NO this, NO that…What CAN you send to school for lunch?

I know that many parents struggle to find school lunch ideas, even without restrictions.  For some, finding themselves in a nut-free school or allergen free classroom is a huge inconvenience.  Although my daughter’s school is not nut or allergen free, I know that many of the other parents make an effort to send in lunches that are safe for her so she can sit with friends without worrying about their food or hands touching her.  For the record, I am not suggesting that everyone should pack allergy free lunches.  I just like to share some of the things we pack in hopes that others might see something they like and can use.  I have been asked many times what I send for lunch and I feel like the options are extensive, despite being dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nut free.  Below is my post from last year with all of the lunchtime details.  I promised to add more to it, so here they are.  I have photographed lunches these first two weeks of preschool so you can see what I send.  Notice that there are two in several of the pictures.  My non-allergic daughter goes to school a few days each week and she eats the same lunch as my allergic daughter.  It’s not “special” food.  It’s just FOOD.

School Lunch:  Keeping it Simple (The original lunch post)


Turkey rolls, tomatoes, steamed green beans, berries, and popcorn.


Quinoa salad, turkey rolls, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, fruit smashie pouch, and juice.


Turkey rolls, steamed green beans, carrots, tomatoes, mixed berries, hummus, crackers, fruit smashie pouch, and juice.


Nectarine, raisins, and hummus with veggie dippers: green peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes.


Rice cake, turkey rolls, tomatoes, green peppers, and apple slices.


Turkey rolls, green beans, tomatoes, apples, crackers, and hummus.


Apples, green beans, red grapes, green olives, somersaults sunflower seed snacks, tomatoes, and turkey.


Tomatoes, red grapes, frozen peas*, frosted mini wheats, raspberries, sweet potato sticks, Triscuits, and hummus.


Hummus, crackers, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, blueberries, and carrots.


Fruit smashie pouch, honeydew, strawberries, mini banana muffins*, kidney beans, carrots, green beans.

A few notes:

*1) I pack the frozen peas straight from the freezer.  I don’t thaw at all.  If I pack the night before, they thaw by lunch time.  If I pack the morning of, my girls eat them frozen.  They actually love them frozen as much as thawed, if not more.

*2) I made a double batch of mini vegan banana muffins before school started and popped them in the freezer (wrapped in sets of 4).  I take out a pack of 4 the night before I want to pack them and put them in the fridge.  They are thawed by morning.

3)  You will notice I pack a lot of hummus.  I have learned to include a spoon because no matter how many dippers I give, the fingers will end up in the hummus by the end if there is no spoon.

If your kids really love their nut butter sandwiches, fear not.  There is an option even if your school is nut free.  We are big fans of WOW Butter.  It is school safe and has the texture of real peanut butter.  The flavor is great too.  There are a lot of alternatives on the market, but after trying many of them, this is our favorite.


If you peel back the label, there are even little sticker labels to put on the sandwich wrapper so you can be sure it won’t be mistaken for peanut butter.

*All views expressed in this blog are my own…until I change my mind, at least 😉

10 thoughts on “NO this, NO that…What CAN you send to school for lunch?

  1. Hi, Emily! We met the other day in Target at the checkout line and you told me and my teen son about YoDish and your blog. I am excited that I finally got around to looking at your blog and reading a bit more about your story. We’ve reached the re-introduction of foods part of our journey and already know that we have an egg sensitivity. I have a feeling gluten and dairy are going to be problems, too, but we will see. Your blog is going to be great, I’m sure, in helping me figure out some of how to handle all this! I’m looking forward to using YoDish while we are out of town and having to eat out! I hope the iPad Mini glitch has been fixed! 😉 Thanks again for your telling me about the blog and YoDish. It was SO nice to meet you!

    • Hi! I was hoping I would be hearing from you. It’s always exciting to me to see someone else buying allergen friendly products. I’m sure the re-introduction must be exciting and scary all at the same time. I’m glad you’re getting some answers though. Hopefully in the end, your list of foods to avoid will be a short one. As for the app, I figured out the problem. If you search for YoDish (as you did) in the App Store, it will come up as an app for iPhone. Just select ‘install’ on the iPhone app anyway, even though you’re on an iPad or iPad mini. It should work even though it says it’s for iPhone. It will look like the iPhone app, so it won’t fill the whole screen, but it will work. Gluten, egg, and dairy are all options for setting your specific restrictions in your profile. If by the end of your process, you find that you need to avoid foods that are not profile options, just send me a message and we will add them. I hope you’re able to add some dish reviews while you’re traveling and, most of all, that you have a fun and safe trip! Thanks so much for the message!

  2. I noticed the WOW butter. That is a great alternative for nut free; however, my daughter is about as allergic to soy as peanuts. She has had a few episodes with breathing issues with soy; it is not nearly as severe as with peanuts, but just the same she cannot have soy. If your child can have almonds, I highly recommend BARNEY butter. It is made in a dedicated peanut free and gluten free facility. It tastes wonderful and is the best i have had. It is hard to find where I live but I am sure if you live in the Charlotte area, you will have no problem. I know that WHOLE FOODS and FRESH MARKET sell it. You can also order it online. The consistency is so close to peanut butter that my daughter even has a hard time eating it…just because it reminds her of the horrors of peanuts. I get so aggravated with companies thinking that everything they produce has to come in some form or flavor with peanut butter.
    I have used the BARNEY almond butter as a substitute in recipes. Works great.

    • That sounds fantastic. Unfortunately, my daughter is also allergic to tree nuts, egg, and dairy. I have often wished we could use almond products, especially for dairy substitutes. I don’t like to depend too much on soy, but WowButter is the exception for us. It’s our best alternative. You raise a great point though. There could be allergies to anything in a given classroom, so it’s important to know what allergies exist in your child’s class and how severe they are. At least you can make an informed decision that way about what you choose to send. We could do away with the soynut butter in a heartbeat if it threatened another students safety. There are so many safe foods out there. Thanks for the info on Barney Almond Butter. Hopefully someone else reading will be able to give it a try!

      • Hi BertieorBirdie! If you mean making healthy, allergen free lunches, yes it is so simple! You just have to know which brands to look for and think outside of the “sandwich and chips” box. Check out my Facebook page for many many more lunch ideas. I post a photo most school days, so there are many you can look through if you need ideas. Thanks for reading and for the comment 🙂

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