15 Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Lunch Box Ideas for Pre-Schoolers
My pre-school aged son is currently on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet in an effort to calm his eczema, which has only gotten worse as he’s gotten older. This summer, he attended a little “backyard camp” with the other kids in our neighborhood and I need to pack him a snack and lunch every day (it’s from 9am-1pm on weekdays for two weeks). I can’t just throw a sandwich and some pretzels in his lunchbox and call it a day - so I have had to get a bit more creative!
I also work full-time, so I couldn’t be prepping fancy meals every day. I challenged myself to make a week’s worth of lunch boxes during nap time on Sunday and was able to do it successfully! Yes, he will repeat items, but we can mix and match and keep it fun (and I’m sure there will be some he loves and some he doesn’t, so I can repeat those!)
Here are the results - I packed a full three days, but I’ve got enough of everything put into tupperware and prepped to last the whole week (plus some extra for dinners for Bobby on nights when we aren’t doing a more formal family meal).
As you can see I repeated a lot of the packaged goods - I basically have a handful that I mixed in different combinations for snack time, treats and “sides for lunch”. I know my son will eat these, they all have “hidden” veggies in them and are gluten-free and dairy-free, so I feel good about always having these available to him. I focused on mixing up the “main dish” for lunch - but I’ll repeat these again to get through the week.
Here’s the list broken down into the 15 different things that I mix and match to make his lunch - one shop should last me two full weeks in these combinations.
Shredded Chicken: I bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and cleaned and shredded it as part of my weekly food prep. This is so easy and cost effective (and even less expensive if you are willing to cook it yourself, which I am not!). This will make several lunches and dinner for him and even gave me leftovers to put in healthy gluten-free/dairy-free mac n cheese with chicken I make for him that is so easy and makes a couple good dinners (and side dishes for us - we can’t resist!). It took about 10 minutes to prep and package up.
“Ants on a log”: This is a nut-free take on ants on a log for packing for school. I used watermelon seed butter from 88acres, organic raisins and of course organic celery. So satisfying plus fun to eat.
Banana Muffins: I bake these Simple Mills banana muffins, sub-ing apple sauce for eggs - my son loves them.
You’ll notice the rest is just store bought, not cooked or pre-packaged - this is the slack I cut myself to make it easy to prep a wide variety of foods I know he’ll eat!
I get the Simple Mills muffin mix and a lot of healthy, gluten and dairy free package options at Thrive Market - here’s a link for 25% off your first order and a free trial: