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100 Gluten Free School Lunch Ideas!

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles

7 Tips for Gluten Free Lunches

  1. Buy a fun lunch box for smaller kids
  2. Invest in sturdy, reusable containers for less waste
  3. Get a good thermos and lunch size cooler or cooler bag to keep things hot and cold
  4. Let kids help plan their own lunches to be sure they will enjoy what’s in it
  5. Substitute Sunbutter (from sunflower seeds) if your child is in a nut free classroom or Barney Butter (Almond Butter) if they can’t have peanuts for peanut butter. They taste just as good, but are allergy friendly.
  6. Remind small kids not to trade any food with friends and not to try anything from anyone else
  7. Pack a treat – Even if it’s bite sized or an encouraging note or stickers. It’s hard work being gluten free at school!

100 Gluten Free Lunch Box Ideas

Updated for 2013. Some of these require a thermos to keep them warm, and some require an insulated bag or freezer pack to keep them cool.

  1. Sandwich breads that work well for PBJ’s – Canyon Bakehouse, Rudi’s, Udi’s
  2. Use Sunbutter or Barney Butter if you can’t use peanuts – all great substitutes, but your kids won’t really taste a difference.
  3. Grilled cheese sandwiches – try cutting in half then in 3’s to make finger sandwiches
  4. Anything on a Panini (GF grilled bread) – cut in half or bite sized
  5. Mini tea sandwiches on GF bread – cucumber cream cheese, pesto, apple, watercress, etc.
  6. Waffle-wich – Gluten Free Vans Waffles or homemade, ham, sliced green apples with maple syrup for dipping
  7. Stick-wich – GF Bread cubes, grape tomatoes, cheese and meat bites, lettuce – all on a stick, mustard for dipping
  8. Banana Dog – GF Hot Dog Bun with banana, Sunbutter or Barney Butter and honey
  9. Polka Dot Sandwich – Strawberry cream cheese, raisins, banana slices
  10. Gluten Free Deli Meats – Hormel, Boar’s Head, Dietz & Watson, etc.
  11. Rudi’s GF Tortillas, Sandwich Petals, corn or rice tortillas for quesadilla’s
  12. Rudi’s GF Tortillas or Sandwich Petals for Wraps
  13. Lettuce Wraps (using Gluten Free Soy Sauce)
  14. Leftovers from dinner in a thermos
  15. Frito Pie in a thermos – GF Chili, Fritos, cheese
  16. Hard Boiled Eggs
  17. Deviled Eggs
  18. Hot dogs- wrap in foil and slide it in a thermos (Many brands GF. Check labels) Rudi’s and Udi’s both have great GF hot dog buns
  19. Veggie Burgers, such as Sunshine Burgers
  20. Ian’s Corn dogs
  21. Ian’s Fish Sticks
  22. Chicken Nuggets – Ian’s or homemade, with honey mustard for dipping
  23. Assemble your own tacos – choose your own ingredients w/hard shell or corn tortillas
  24. Bean Salads – Here are some options
  25. Quinoa Salad- Tons of options, here’s one.
  26. Pasta Salads full of veggies/seeds with Italian Dressing or Pesto (I find Tinkyada GF pasta holds up best)
  27. Mac and Cheese- homemade or Amy’s or Glutino
  28. Baked Potato in a thermos – add favorite toppings, wrap in foil, and slide it in a thermos.
  29. GF soups in a thermos – Here’s a bunch or try Amy’s, Kettle Cuisine, or homemade
  30. GF Sushi – our Asian friends bring this to school all the time!
  31. Salads
  32. Spinach Salad with fruit and fruity dressing
  33. English Muffin Pizzas – love Joan’s and Food for Life English Muffins
  34. Leftover gluten free pizza
  35. Mini Crustless Quiches
  36. Go Picnic Meals (Similar to Lunchables, but most are gluten free – great for field trips)
  37. Tuna Salad or chicken salad
  38. Potato salad – great with Italian dressing instead of mayo
  39. Delimex taquitos and tamales – click for specifics
  40. Nachos
  41. Fried Rice with veggies
  42. Any Asian style Rice Noodle Stir Fry. Here’s one idea.
  43. Burritos – homemade, GlutenFreeda or Amy’s Kitchen
  44. GlutenFreeda Pizza Wraps (3 cheese and chicken pesto – in the freezer section)
  45. Fresh Fruit- Grapes, apples, bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, Clementine’s etc.
  46. Fruit Kabobs w/ yogurt dipping sauce
  47. Dried Fruit – Raisins, Cranberries, Pineapple, Apples, Craisins, etc.
  48. Dried Vegetables – Carrots, snap peas, roasted chickpeas, etc.
  49. Freeze Dried Fruits – Sensible Foods (available at Costco sometimes)
  50. General Mills Fruit Roll Ups & Fruit Gushers
  51. Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Apple Clusters
  52. Trader Joe’s Sunflower Crepes
  53. Popcorn or Mini-Pops (Popped sorghum), mix with parmesan or cinnamon for more fun
  54. Mini popcorn balls (make your own, bite sized version) Here’s some recipes (Confirm all ingredients are gluten free)
  55. GF Chex Muddy Buddies
  56. Chex Mix – infinite variations. Here’s one.
  57. Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham crackers
  58. Graham cracker squares – Jules GF Graham Cracker Mix (Roll out, cut in 1″ squares and top with cinnamon/sugar before baking. Great bite size snacks! Addictive!)
  59. Home Made Trail Mix – Chex cereals, M&Ms, Nuts, pretzels, seeds, dried fruits
  60. No-bake refrigerator oatmeal in a jar – use oats marked gluten free (lots of recipes here)
  61. Granola – Bakery on Main, Udi’s, Glutino, EnerG
  62. Homemade Nut Butter Energy Bars (Use Sunbutter or Barney Butter in place of peanut)
  63. Cookies – Pamela’s, Kinni-Toos, WOW Baking Co, Glow Gluten Free, Nana’s, Glutino, Lucy’s, EnerG, etc.
  64. Cookies – homemade (check the dessert section for lots of choices), Jules Mix, French Meadow Bakery Frozen Dough, Betty Crocker Mix
  65. Brownies – homemade or GF Betty Crocker Mix, WOW Baking Co, The GF Cookie Jar, French Meadow Bakery (they even sell an individually wrapped version)
  66. Krispie Treats made with Gluten Free Rice Krispies, Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles or GF Chex cereal
  67. Dry cereal – EnviroKids Organic Gorilla Munch, Envirokids Peanut Butter Panda Puffs
  68. Banana or Zucchini Bread
  69. Udi’s Muffins (1/4  or  1/2 of an Udi’s muffin may be enough!)
  70. Muffins – homemade (add in fruit and gluten free whole grains)
  71. Mini cupcakes – use a GF mix or a good recipe
  72. Chips – Many Frito Lay, Lundberg’s Rice Chips, Rice Works, PopCorners, Kettle Chips, Beanitos, Mediterranean Baked Lentil Chips, Chip’ins, etc
  73. Ants on a Log – Celery with Sunbutter or Barney Butter and raisins
  74. Sliced cucumber or jicama
  75. Cherry or grape tomatoes
  76. Carrots with dressing
  77. Dips- Mustard, honey mustard, maple syrup, fruit yogurts, ranch dressing, nut/seed butters, honey, hummus, salsa
  78. Pickles and olives
  79. Nuts, Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  80. String Cheese, cheese cubes, sliced cheese
  81. Buffalo Guys Mild Jerky – No Hormones added, Uncured, Skinless, Fully Cooked, No Preservatives. No MSG, Nitrates, Nitrites, or Fillers added.
  82. GoGurt (Pack it frozen and it’s thawed by lunchtime)
  83. Yogurt (Confirm label for ingredients)
  84. Lara Bars, Glutino Bars, Think Thin Bars, Bakery on Main Bars, Zing, That’s It Bars, etc.
  85. Rice Cakes – plain, flavored, or spread with peanutbutter, Sunbutter, Barney Butter or cream cheese or pizza toppings (Many rice cake brands/flavors are GF. Check labels)
  86. GF Pretzels (Plain, or Glutino Chocolate or Yogurt covered)
  87. Fruit Cups
  88. Applesauce
  89. Jell-O cups
  90. Jell-O Pudding cups- most are GF or Kozy Shack pudding
  91. GF Crackers – Blue Diamond Nut Thins, Crunchmaster, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Van’s
  92. Homemade Copy Cat Cheez-its – these are amazingly addictive!
  93. Bagel with cream cheese or strawberry cream cheese – Udi’s or Joan’s bagels
  94. Baked Sweet potato chips – slice thin and bake until crispy. Top with sea salt or cinnamon/sugar
  95. Kinnikinnick GF Animal Crackers – KinniKritters
  96. Kinnikinnick Donuts
  97. M&Ms, or other GF snack-sized candy bars
  98. Pies in a jar (Make any flavor of pie you like and use any GF pie crust mix)
  99. Can of V8 or bottle of water
  100. Note of encouragement from Mom and Dad

Always check labels to confirm gluten free status of products.

Have any other creative lunch ideas? Add them in the comment section below.

Click here for a PDF version of this list for easier printing.



47 Responses to “100 Gluten Free School Lunch Ideas!”
  1. Maureen deTar says:

    FYI: Barney Butter is still a nut butter and would violate a nut free classroom rule. I am both a teacher and a parent of a nut free child.

  2. Amy Taylor says:

    #6 sliced apples with maple syrup- the ONLY thing we successfully used to bribe our kid to take his medicine today :)

  3. J H B says:

    How about El’s Medleys and Snaps? Great crunchy snacks for your lunchbox.

  4. Awesome list! I will definitely share this…Thanks for compiling!

  5. Kathy Nesler says:

    I love the the single packs of Wild Garden Hummus Dip []. It’s great with corn chips or veggies.

  6. Thank you so much – great list. Just wanted you to know that I point people to it today, September 8th, on my daily list of curated content ( Hope you get some new hits off of it!

  7. Nancy says:

    Thanks so much, Laura! I like your site!

  8. Grazie mille! This list is terrific!
    I remember bringing my embarrassing gluten-free lunches to school in the 1970′s – when it seemed the rest of the world was eating nothing outside of peanut butter & jam on white bread (with the crusts cut off!). We’ve certainly come a long way since then! Thanks so much!! Claudine

  9. Sharon Johnson says:

    Hi can you tell me how Panini is glutyen free? My understanding is it is made with Ciabatta bread which is traditionally wheeat flour??? Would appreciate your advice as this is not good for gluten free diets!

  10. Nancy says:

    Hi Sharon – A panini is a toasted sandwich made on any kind of bread. I like mine best on Kinnikinnick personal pizza crusts – cut diagonally and you have a hearty, restaurant-worthy sandwich. If you prefer Cibata bread, Shar has a nice gluten free version.

  11. Valerie Davenport says:

    Take whole date and make a small, lenghtwise cut in it. Stuff with 1/2 pecan and roll in powdered sugar. Old-fashioned, homemade candy. Store in air-tight container.

  12. Modern Mama says:

    LOVE THIS LIST! Your tips on the top are RIGHT ON! I want to add beanie weanies to this list. I use Bush’s vegetarian baked beans, and it is a weekly favorite. I try to send hot lunch when I can. GF bread, in my opinion, does not taste good by the time they get to it. I am, however, going to try sending a warm grilled cheese in the thermos thanks to your ideas. THANKS SO MUCH!

  13. This is a great list! It’s always great to have more gluten free lunch ideas :)

  14. Becky says:

    My son loves sliced pepperonis, and carrots with hummus. Staples in his school lunch box

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  16. Cristina says:

    Unfortunately, packaged food is still processed food, GF or not. However, I appreciate the non-processed suggestions (lettuce wraps, salads, etc.).

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  18. Malka says:

    Thank you! This is just overwhelmingly fantastic! I cannot tell you how I struggle with lunches and nutrition. I want my kids to eat healthy food and I am ready to research and pull up my sleeves to get them the best! Thanks for helping me in my quest!

    All the best to all the parents out there!

  19. Susy says:

    Thank you for the ideas! I don’t have children in school anymore, but I have just found out I am gluten intolerant and this list helps. I find it amazing that there are actually people who make negative comments, i.e., “processed food.” Why?

  20. Peg says:

    No Nuts golden pea butter is a fantastic substitute for peanut butter. It is made with brown peas and tastes a lot like peanut butter. My kids are OK with peanuts but can’t take them to school and they love it! They actually prefer it to peanut butter. :) Go find it!!!

  21. All the above ideas are truly innovative. I think if I provided lunch box to my kids following the above idea they will be very happy. It’s not only help them for eat some delicious lunch but also help them to get some nutrition from those foods.

  22. Melissa says:

    I love that you took time to make this list. I did notice that several items have dairy in them, most Celiac patients have to live dairy free for 6 to 12 months too and that’s the kicker :( I also think that a lot of these items are foods that most kids will not eat, although not all kids are picky like mine, most won’t eat fresh veggies, dried fruit and such. I also think donuts shouldn’t be an option for a school lunch, I work at the school and the kids that are the most hyper are the ones that are sent lunches that answer just why they are :) With all that being said, I do still thank you for the list, there are a few ideas I can use, and appreciate your time making it!

  23. Lexi says:

    Really helpful! Now I’m really excited about being gluten free!

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  25. Chris says:

    Thank you for this list. My daughter has Cilliac, and it is very difficult to feed her a gluten-free diet. This will help so much with shopping and preparation.

    (And if my kids over had to go nut-free at school, they would be homeschooled, because that is an impossible way to feed kids. Sorry, but if mine has the nut allergy, they would also be homeschooled rather than subject an entire city’s population of kids to such strict eating rules.

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