This year, Monkey is in a peanut-free classroom. Ironically, this year is the one where I have seen an abundance of posts on blogs and social media about the peanut-free restrictions in schools. Some of the reactions are a bit crazy, if you ask me. I read two great posts on BlogHer that I completely agreed with. You can read them by clicking on these links: Your Kid’s Peanut Allergy Is an Inconvenience and Open Letter to the Mom Who Said Parents Should Relax About Kids’ Food Allergy.
Basically, I know how much I worry sending my kids off to school every day. I can’t imagine having the immensely huge worry of a severe allergic reaction added to that. Moms of children with severe allergies never stop worrying when they’re child is out of their sight, and that’s a pretty tough life to live. So instead of complaining that we can’t send a PB&J sandwich to school, why can’t we all have a little compassion for other mothers and stretch outside our comfortable (lunch)box. And now, I’ll get off my soapbox and share some ideas with you for what you can plan for peanut-free lunches.
Peanut Free School Lunch Ideas
1. Pinwheels. These are super easy and my kids love them. Simply take a tortilla, spread cream cheese or mayo (or I like to mix a bit of the two together), add sliced lunchmeat and cheese slices, then roll it up. I like to refrigerate for a bit so everything holds together well. Then slice into about 1-1 1/2 inch thick slices.
2. Soup or SpaghettiO’s. My trick for keeping soup or SpaghettiO’s warm in a thermos until lunch time takes a few extra minutes, but works well. Boil some water and pour it into the thermos. Put the lid on and let it sit while you heat the soup or SpaghettiO’s until boiling. Then dump the water out of the thermos, and add the soup or SpaghettiO’s right away. I think preheating the thermos and making sure whatever you put in it is good and hot helps keep it warm for the four or five hours until lunch.
3. Mini-pizzas. My kids love anything they can assemble themselves. You can use either a bagel or an English muffin for the crust. Then pack small containers of pizza sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings your kiddos like. They can assemble themselves at lunchtime.
4. Salad. This is a new one for my guys. They previously were not salad eaters, but all of sudden they have decided it’s not bad. You can either do a lettuce salad, and in side containers add some protein such as cheese, meat, and/or egg, another container with extra veggies like carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers, and a small container of dressing. My guys also love croutons. Or you can make a pasta salad with meat, cheese, and veggies mixed in.
5. Bento box (or homemade lunchable). We have a couple lunch containers for Gerber that I love for making homemade “lunchable” type lunches. There are nice compartments and a cute spot for notes. I usually pack lunchmeat and cheese (sometimes on fancy toothpicks), crackers, a fruit, a veggie, and a treat. Silicone muffin liners make it really easy to separate different foods, as well. Other options can include hardboiled eggs, cheese quesadillas, grilled chicken strips, or chicken nuggets. And you can pack whatever fruits and veggies you have on hand.
6. Egg or Tuna Salad in a pita pocket. This is especially perfect right after Easter when you are wondering what to do with all those dyed hard-boiled eggs! Simply make up some egg (or tuna) salad, and fill a pita pocket. More interesting and something different than a plain old sandwich.
7. Fruit and Yogurt. Yogurt can be a great source of protein. I like to use the larger “adult” size yogurt cups, instead of the child sized ones, so I know my kiddos will be full. Add some granola for some crispies. And a few fruits like strawberries and bananas. Graham crackers are a nice addition to this lunch, as well.
8. Sandwiches. I almost didn’t include this because my kids are not really crazy about the old meat and cheese sandwiches. They usually want either PB&J or grilled cheese, neither of which work for lunch boxes this year. But another option is to use cream cheese for the protein. You can either do cream cheese and shredded carrot, cucumbers, black olives, and other veggies. Or you can use cream cheese and jelly. You can experiment with flavored cream cheese to make interesting combos, or stick with the plain old variety.
9. Kabobs. This is really almost like a sandwich on a stick, but my kids think it is fun because it’s on a stick. You can use bread cubes, lunch meat, and cheese. You can also add in things like cherry tomatoes, apple chunks, or grapes. The combo I like is Italian bread, salami, mozzerella cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Another good one is Whole wheat bread, turkey, cheddar, and apple chunks. You can do a whole kabob lunch by adding in a fruit kabob and a veggie kabob.
10. School Lunch. Yep – I had to include this. My kids get to pick up to two school lunches a week. There are some they love and it makes for an easier day for us when we don’t have to pack. There are some I’m glad they don’t pick, and some I have to just let it go and tell myself they get healthy food the rest of the day.
On to my menu! Starting to be glad I’ve got a few meals stowed away in the freezer, and am working on adding a few more. Anytime I make something like mac & cheese, soup, chili, chicken tacos, or sometimes beef tacos, I make an extra big batch and freeze some for later dinners. I’ve now got some mac & cheese, taco meat, and soup in the freezer, and will be adding chili this week. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big, Piggy in Polka Dots, Wednesday Extravaganza, Marvelous Mondays, and Wonderful Food Wednesday. Or check out and follow my Yummy board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my post on meal planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:
Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• In my quest to get Monkey to fill his belly up before school, I’ve added banana smoothies into our rotation. He seems to like them and I get about a half a banana and some good protein from the milk in him before he heads off.
• Roo: Monday – PB&J (Ironic that I wrote a whole post about how to avoid this! Haha!); Tuesday – Lunchable; Wednesday – School lunch; Thursday – Lunchable; Friday – School lunch
• Monkey: Monday – PB&J (no school so he’s at the sitter’s); Tuesday – Lunchable; Wednesday – Lunchable; Thursday – School lunch; Friday – Mac & Cheese
• Me: Monday – work lunch; Tuesday – leftovers; Wednesday – leftovers; Thursday – leftovers or salad; Friday – leftovers or Sandwich
• Monday – Lazy Day Casserole
• Tuesday – Mac & Cheese, hot dogs, green beans
• Wednesday – Leftover Buffet or Rotisserie Chicken (depending on how much leftovers we have)
• Thursday – Sandwiches, pretzels, apple slices
• Friday – Game night
• Saturday – Sweet Garlic Chicken, rice, broccoli
• Sunday – Chili, cornbread
What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!
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