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6 Tips + 75 GF School Lunch Ideas = Happy Kids

October 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles, Gluten Free Tips

6 Tips for Gluten Free Lunches

  1. Buy a fun lunch box for smaller kids
  2. Invest in a good thermos and lunch size cooler to keep things hot and cold
  3. Let them plan their own lunches to be sure they will enjoy what’s in it
  4. Substitute Sunbutter for peanut butter if your child is in a nut free class. It’s made with sunflower seeds, but tastes just as good
  5. Remind small kids not to trade any food with friends and not to try anything from anyone else
  6. Pack a treat – Even if it’s bite sized. It’s hard work being gluten free at school!

75 Gluten Free School Lunch Ideas

  1. Breads that work well for PBJ’s – Canyon Bakehouse, O’Doughs, Udi’s
  2. Grilled cheese sandwiches – try cutting in half then in 3’s to make finger sandwiches
  3. Gluten Free Deli Meats – Hormel, Boar’s Head
  4. Sandwich Petals, corn or rice tortillas for quesadilla’s
  5. Sandwich Petals for Wraps
  6. Leftovers from dinner
  7. Frito Pie – GF Chili, Fritos, cheese
  8. Hard Boiled Eggs
  9. Deviled Eggs
  10. Hot dogs (Many brands GF. Check labels)
  11. Ian’s Corn dogs
  12. Ian’s Fish Sticks
  13. Chicken Nuggets – Ian’s or homemade
  14. Pasta Salads full of veggies/seeds with Italian Dressing or Pesto
  15. Mac and Cheese- homemade or Amy’s or Glutino
  16. GF soups in a thermos- Amy’s, Kettle Cuisine, Some Progresso (check labels)
  17. GF Sushi – our Asian friends bring this to school all the time!
  18. Salads
  19. English Muffin Pizzas – love Joan’s and Food for Life English Muffins
  20. Tuna Salad or chicken salad
  21. Potato salad – great with Italian dressing instead of mayo
  22. Delimex taquitos and tamales – click for specifics
  23. Nachos
  24. Fried Rice with veggies
  25. Burritos – GlutenFreeda or Amy’s Kitchen
  26. Fresh Fruit- Grapes, apples, bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, etc
  27. Dried Fruit- Raisins, Cranberries, Pineapple, Apples, etc.
  28. Freeze Dried Fruits – Sensible Foods (available at Costco sometimes)
  29. General Mills Fruit Roll Ups & Fruit Gushers
  30. Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Apple Clusters
  31. Trader Joe’s Sunflower Crepes
  32. Popcorn
  33. Mini popcorn balls (make your own, bite sized version)
  34. GF Chex Muddy Buddies
  35. Chex Mix – infinite variations. Here’s one.
  36. Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham crackers
  37. 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!)
  38. Banana Dog – GF Hot Dog Bun with banana, Sunbutter and honey
  39. Home Made Trail Mix – Chex cereals, M&Ms, Nuts, pretzels, seeds, dried fruits
  40. Granola – Bakery on Main, Udi’s, Glutino, EnerG
  41. Cookies – Pamela’s, Kinni-Toos, WOW Baking Co, Glow Gluten Free, Nana’s, Glutino
  42. Cookies – homemade (check the dessert section for lots of choices), Joan’s Frozen or Jules Mix, French Meadow Bakery Frozen Dough
  43. Brownies – GF Betty Crocker, WOW Baking Co, The GF Cookie Jar
  44. Krispie Treats made with GF Rice cereal, Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles or Chex cereal
  45. Banana or Zucchini Bread
  46. Udi’s Muffins (1/4  or ½ of an Udi’s muffin may be enough!)
  47. Muffins – homemade
  48. Mini cupcakes – use a GF mix or a good recipe
  49. Chips – Many Frito Lay, Lundberg’s Rice Chips
  50. Salsa, Hummus
  51. Celery with Sunbutter and raisins, or cheese
  52. Sliced cucumber or jicama
  53. Cherry or grape tomatoes
  54. Carrots with dressing
  55. Nuts, Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  56. String Cheese
  57. GoGurt
  58. Yogurt (Confirm label for ingredients)
  59. Lara Bars
  60. Glutino Bars
  61. Rice Cakes – plain, flavored, or spread with peanutbutter, Sunbutter or cream cheese (Many rice cake brands/flavors are GF. Check labels)
  62. GF Pretzels (Plain, or Glutino Chocolate or Yogurt covered)
  63. Fruit Cups
  64. Applesauce
  65. Jell-O cups
  66. Jell-O Pudding cups- most are GF
  67. GF Crackers – Blue Diamond Nut Thins, Crunchmaster, Mary’s Gone Crackers
  68. Homemade Copy Cat Cheez-its – these are amazingly addictive!
  69. Bagel with cream cheese or strawberry cream cheese – Udi’s or Joan’s bagels
  70. Baked Sweet potato chips – slice thin and bake until Crispy. Top with sea salt or cinnamon/sugar
  71. Kinnikinnick GF Animal Crackers – KinniKritters
  72. Kinnikinnick Donuts
  73. M&Ms, or other GF candy bars
  74. Pies in a jar (Make any flavor of pie you like and use any GF pie crust mix)
  75. 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.


25 Responses to “6 Tips + 75 GF School Lunch Ideas = Happy Kids”
  1. allie says:

    Thanks for the tips! It requires creativity to pack 2 snacks and lunch for my daughter everyday.

  2. Mindie VanBoxel says:

    I pack gf lunches for my 5 school aged kids (and feed the 2 at home gf as well). Currently, I am packing 23 lunches a week. I pack them a rice cake, and they get a choice of toppings; pnut butter and jelly, pizza sauce w/ turkey pepperoni and mozz cheese, flavored cream cheese, refried beans and cheese, chicken or tuna salad. Also, packing vanilla yogurt in bowls is a good idea, and I send them with homemade granola to top it with. Home made rice pudding is a hit. I prepare most of their lunch stuff over the weekend. I put carrot sticks and cut up cheese cubes into baggies, and dish out yogurt or puddings into dishes and stack them in the fridge. I do as much prep as possible (even putting ricecake toppings into little dishes), so there is no morning rush.

  3. Ann Seaman says:

    Mindie, do your kids get tired of the rice cakes everyday? Can you publish your rice pudding recipe? Your ideas are awesome! Thanks. The morning rush is what gets us!! What kind of small containers do you us?

  4. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the great ideas, Mindie. It’s obvious that you are quite the organized and wonderful mom!

  5. Shannon says:

    Great article, would love to link back to it if I may. I write a bento lunch blog and keep referring questions about gluten-free bentos to a couple of guest posts from friends of mine who are GF (we aren’t and I have no clue how to answer)!

  6. Alicia says:

    Sent mine with roasted red bell pepper hummus and brown rice crackers today… I brought some for my lunch as well. Super Yummy!

    We use lunchboxes from laptop lunches and love them. I just need to figure out how to send warm/hot items from time to time as well.

  7. Nancy says:

    Shannon- Feel free to link! Your lunch ideas are adorable! You have to be an artist and a mom to pack a lunch these days :)

  8. Wow – this is a FANTASTIC list!! I am the allergic one in the fam now (wheat & dairy), so this list will be copied and adjusted for me. VERY helpful!!

  9. Amy says:

    My husband & I pack 3 gluten free lunches a day + 2 snacks. We used to run a gluten free daycare. We haven’t been gluten free a year yet, but we’ve been solely focused on making this necessary change in our diet healthy and fun for the kids. Hubby makes meat and cheese “sushi” by layering a variety of meats and cheese, pressing together, then cutting into shapes. We use small reusable/disposable storage countainers to send hummus (or tuna salad, egg salad, etc.) w/ corn chips, peanutbutter w/apple slices, loaded baked potato in a thermos, use leftover breakfast waffles to make sandwiches with scrambled egg and a slice of american (micro, then wrap tightly in foil), cashews, dried fruits, cheese sticks, carrot sticks, individual servings of cottage cheese, yogurt. Good luck, be creative – give them hearty breakfast before they leave if possible. I make a list on my fridge on possible lunchbox ideas and combos to keep things balanced. I also keep lots of items on hand so that I have lots of options and don’t get stressed.

  10. Nancy says:

    More great ideas! Thanks Amy. We could easily move this list to 100 ideas now~

  11. Hi Nancy,
    GREAT list! Thanks for including SunButter. And as a fellow lunch-packing mom (x3!), I’m grateful for your excellent, easy-to-read list. If you’re interested, our online recipe box is here:

  12. Jessi says:

    Great tips. I just wanted to add that gopicnic has gluten free boxed lunches. They are just as cool looking as lunchables and you can order them online. They also have kosher and vegetarian meals. Just a tip.

  13. Krys says:

    Great ideas! My three kids are gluten, casein & egg free. So, it’s extremely hard to find things to pack for their lunches and snacks. Some of these we can use! Thanks for the tips!

  14. rebecca says:

    Self Diagnosed my daughter in 3rd grade (with my brother’s help who just finished diagnosing himself on another continent) . Trader Joes Popped Potatoes were a great Nutrition period snack as is popcorn. Lunch was a struggle. Towards the end, I discovered crock pot cog a vin! Easily 5 serves of cut up chicken into little “ziploc” “tubberware” type containers. Small baggie of shredded cheese, cucumber slices or other side – her PE teacher during the nutrition unit for 2yrs comments that she has the healthiest lunch! It’s super easy for me because I have 5 containers of chicken, 5 cheese pouches, toss it in the LANDS END lunch sack with icepacks… We recently changed it up. Baked Nacho scoops in a bigger container… Chicken and cheese in sep. baggies or small containers for luncheon nachos which are the envy of the other 5th grade girls! Nutrition period is now a THERMOS funcontainer (put it in the night before) with a fruit salad and a small container of GLutino pretzels & token amt of sark choc. chips. Middle School – that will be a challenge next year.. Hopefully, the new nutrition guidelines for school lunches will make more options avaialable for those with gluten, nut, and other intolerances/allergies

  15. rebecca says:

    I too put in a note from Mom or Dad or visiting family member

  16. My daughter is a high schooler who packs her own gluten free lunch every day. It started as a challenge, but the longer we eat gluten free, the easier it becomes.

    Our staples are hard boiled eggs (we use those little plastic “eggie” hard boiled egg cookers – and love them), rice pasta from the Asian market (super cheap), cut vegetables with hummus or dairy-free dip, and lots of nuts. Lots of nuts.

    Great tips – I absolutely love your site!!

    ~ Tiffany

    Transfer of Health
    Healthy Recipes and Wellness tips

  17. Nancy says:

    Thanks Tiffany! And great ideas from you. too!

  18. Dora says:

    My daughter is in High school so she can use the microwave. I send a lot of leftovers for her. Meatloaf with carrots, potatoes, greenbeans, meatballs with green bean wraps. Chicken salad with capers, carrots and dip. Sometimes she just wants deli meats, apple sauce cups and veggies or a salad. She has a nice lunch bag with a cold pack to keep it in. She also has to have snacks and a water bottle to carry with her because she is underweight also. We have been doing it for over a yr. now and have definately learned to be creative. Biggest struggle was making sure it did not get cross contaminated. Found some vented lid bowls she uses in the school microwave. Really nice, she does not have to remove the lid to warm it up!

  19. Andrea says:

    Thank you Soooooooooooooooo much for this list! Only six months since DD diagnosed w celiac disease. I am just getting the hang of GF for breakfast and dinner, but lunch has been a nightmare. I am encouraged by this resource and so very grateful to have found it. Thx again.

  20. Nancy says:

    Hi Andrea-

    So glad you found the lunch ideas helpful. There’s a newer list that I posted with 100 ideas. There are a few different ones here that may help, too. Best wishes!

  21. DANIELLE says:

    Hi these were all great ideas we have one 11 year old boy (gf) who is growing like crazy and always hungry! We are transitioning into public school after some time of being home. I came here to find ideas as the school he will be attending doesn’t have a kitchen any ideas for making him feel full with completely cold ff lunches? We also have a 13 years old girl who will take mostly gr lunch and a 6yr.old boy with glycogen storage disease who will take basically the same lunch as our 11 yr.old….any ideas would be great please email me at

  22. DANIELLE says:

    Love when my kindle changes my words!!! Grrrr. Sorry that gf and gluten free:)


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