Safe Lunches Can Be Creative

By Heather Legg

Now that schools are getting back in full swing; it’s time to make those lunch box lunches! I know it gets sort of mundane if you are packing the same things over and over, so it pays to get a little creative, not only for your children but for you as well! It’s even more of a challenge when your children have allergies and your foods are already limited. With these tips and sources, maybe this year will be one of more variety at lunchtime.

• Go for color. A little color in your lunchbox can go a long way in upping the excitement. My daughter’s favorite lunch to take is a cream cheese and jelly sandwich but I can have fun with her sides. Instead of carrots, try sliced red bell pepper, edamame or cucumber slices. You can be creative in your shapes, too. Go for thin slices on one day, thick chunks the next. Believe it or not, that can liven things up.
• Try something new. I made a colorful pasta salad the other day for my girls with whole wheat pasta and Asian vegetables. You can use wheat free pasta, of course and substitute any vegetables. I use a sweet chili sauce and lime juice as the sauce so there was no salad dressing or mayo to worry with temperatures while lunchboxes sat in the classroom. You can simply toss things your child likes together, whether it’s beans and rice or pasta and veggies.
• Substitute! Instead of peanut butter, use soy butter, hummus or cream cheese. Instead of bread, use tortillas for rolling or veggie sticks for dipping. Kids like to use their hands, remember.
• Use your thermos. Thermoses aren’t just for soup (which is a great lunch whether store bought or homemade), but you can also fill it with your child’s favorite hot dish, like mac and cheese, spaghetti or a casserole. The thermos will maintain the temperature well if you heat it right before putting it in.

Kids with allergies can get bored of lunches just like any other kid and their choices are already limited. Keep in mind your child’s favorites and think of ways to let them have it, or shake it up a bit. Maybe just some yogurt and fruit with a side of allergy free crackers is all they need or don’t be afraid to pack a salad with some dressing on the side, or even dry cereal with milk or soymilk in the thermos to add. They may not need a whole big meal and you can save on waste, too. Think healthy, tasty and allergy free and you will come up with some new lunches for your repertoire.

Check out these sites for more inspiration.
www.kidswithfoodallergies.org
www.laptoplunches.com

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