The gluten-free kids' lunch box

If your child has coeliac disease you'll need to rethink some everyday tasks like making lunch. To help you along, here are some useful tips and tricks to make the change to gluten-free as tasty and kid-friendly as possible.

What is gluten and why can’t some people eat it?

Time to put our science hats on! Gluten is made up of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin and is found in wheat, barley and rye. For some people, when gluten is absorbed, it causes upset tummies, rashes, bloating, and pain.

Depending on the person, the reaction can be different and more or less severe.

The gluten-free lunchbox: Bread

If you’re worried about packing a gluten-free lunchbox for your kids, fear not, as there are loads of delicious gluten-free foods out there that will keep the little ones happy. Bread is the big one, so let’s start with that.

There are loads of gluten-free breads available but always check the label as some packaged gluten-free breads can be full of sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. Keep an eye out or all that sugar will have your little ones bouncing off the walls. Sorry, teacher!

If you’re not happy with the ingredients in the gluten-free bread in your local shop, you can take a look at some gluten-free food blogs and find a recipe for homemade gluten-free bread. Your kids will love helping you bake their own special bread.

If you don’t have the time to make your own bread, take a look at our ‘Free From’ range, which has plenty of healthy gluten-free breads to choose from.

 

The gluten-free lunchbox: Meat

So you’ve got your gluten-free bread sorted, but what about the filler? Unfortunately lots of processed meat contains gluten.  A great alternative to processed meat is to cook your own fresh meat. At the start of the week you could cook up some chicken fillets or ham and use as a sandwich filler for the week. Check out our beginners guide to food prep for more info on bulk cooking! 

The gluten-free lunchbox: Sweet Treats

While biscuits and chocolate might have been a popular lunchbox filler when we were in school, many schools now have rules where chocolate and sugary-treats are only allowed on treat day.

Going gluten-free can make treat day difficult. 

If his/her friends all have their favourite sweets, your little one might feel left out, though many supermarkets now stock tasty gluten-free chocolate.  

If the teacher gives out sweets as a treat or a reward for acing the spelling test or their sums, you can have a word with her and ask her to stock up on gluten-free chocolate instead, or drop in bags of gluten-free treats when you know an event like a school tour is coming up.

Rice cakes, fruit, and gluten-free biscuits are also a solid option for filling your little one’s lunchbox alongside their sarnies or roll.

Kid-friendly lunch ideas

Going gluten-free doesn’t mean your kids have to miss out on their favourite things.

If you think your kids might be reluctant about their new diet, you can get them involved in the planning stage. A safe bet is always to make the new food look as tasty as possible so they’ll look at it and want to gobble it all down. Cheese, fruit ‘kebabs’, and meat and fish are all healthy, gluten-free options that even fussy eaters will enjoy.

If you’re stuck for what to pack for lunch, here are a couple of quick and easy ideas. A note: the linked ingredients are all gluten-free.

1. Gluten-free pizza

As a special treat, you can prepare gluten-free pizza for dinner. Either use a gluten-free dough base or an adventurous cauliflower base. Top with tomato puree, cheese, and whatever your child likes. Keep a couple of slices as leftovers for lunch. Add a fruit of choice and you’re good to go.

2. Ciabatta rolls

Butter the gluten-free ciabatta rolls and add the filling. Chicken or ham and some salad are always a popular go-to. Add a banana or orange, and a gluten-free chocolate brownie for treat day.

3. Fancy crackers with ham or cheese

Grab some gluten-free crispbread and add ham or cheese, Nutella, or a couple of berries. Tuck some fruit into the lunchbox, and finish off with rice cakes

As you can see from our quick lunches, gluten-free doesn’t have to mean boring or food that your kids will turn their nose up at. If you make any of our lunches, send us a pic on Facebook or Twitter.