Yummy Kid Friendly Lunch Ideas Beyond PB&J

Heather Chaet

Kiddo just got her camp list!  Yup, she's heading to day camp this summer at the same place where she goes to preschool. The kicker about camp is she brings her lunch (we scored a great dino lunch box and a Hello Kitty thermos, natch). Kiddo is allergic to nuts, so lunch time can be dicey, but her school is nut-free (and seed-free), so this mama can rest easy.

I am used to finding good, fun, nut-free lunches -- but many moms of her camp-mates have asked for ideas on what they can pack since their kids eat a peanut butter sandwich almost every day at home.

The "try something new factor" is a toughie, especially when you aren't around to prod/bribe/coerce them to eat it. So how do you make sure the lunch box will come back empty and your kiddo's tummy will be full? The key: it's all in the presentation.

Think beyond the square -- Whether you are serving turkey or ham or plain cheese sandwich, it helps to invest in some cool cookie cutters -- we have a dinosaur, a flower, a cat, a butterfly, a star. Even a basic circle instead of the usual sandwich square or rectangle can do the trick to get a little guy to eat something new versus his usual PB&J.

Roll 'em, roll 'em, roll 'em -- Tortillas aren't just for enchiladas. Grab a whole wheat one or two. There are a gazillion fun, nut-free fillings you can use to get some protein in there -- beans, avocado, shredded cheese, jelly, cream cheese, beans ... okay, don't do all of those together, but you get the idea. Roll 'em up and chunk 'em in the bag. I press down on it a bit and it usually stays rolled -- or tie them up with a thin strip of tortilla.

Pick some pockets -- Think pita. Fill it with egg/chicken/tuna salad, whatever your kiddo likes. Or cut them into triangles and toast them and send them along with a little bit of hummus for a fun, dunk-and-munch (nut-free) lunch.

Skip the bread -- Who said a lunch box had to have bread? Roll up turkey and cheese slices without the tortilla and include some mustard or ranch dressing in a little container for dipping. Plop some shelled edamame into a bowl along with some brown rice. Slice some cheese, toss in some crackers and let your kiddo assemble her own little cracker sandwiches.

Once you have these, just add a drink and maybe some fruit and you are done. These ideas can work for any lunch box, a nut-free one or not. The main thing for your nut-free lunch is reading the labels. Some breads and crackers are processed on equipment that also manufactures nut products, so be sure to steer clear of those.

Do pack your kiddo a nut-free lunch?


Image via HeatherHeatherHeather/Flickr

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