Ideas for Peanut-Free Lunches for Kids

Schools across the nation are adopting peanut-free lunch tables, peanut-free classrooms and even entire peanut-free campuses. For students who have peanut allergies, coming in contact with even the tiniest amount of peanuts can cause reactions ranging from mild skin irritations and rashes to a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. However, skipping the peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunch doesn't have to leave your child hungry. With a little creative planning, your child might welcome a change of pace from the normal lunch bag cuisine.

  1. Sandwiches

    • Skipping the peanut butter doesn't mean throwing out the bread, too. Vary your child's sandwich choices with lunch meats, cheese, tuna fish, egg salad, chicken salad, grilled cheese or a hummus sandwich with some vegetables on top. Complete the lunch by adding an apple, orange or grapes.


    • Whether your child likes pizza with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, pineapples, black olives, mushrooms or just cheese, wrap up a slice or two for lunch. For kids that don't care for pizza with tomato sauce, try a barbeque chicken pizza made with barbecue sauce or a chicken Alfredo pizza made with Alfredo sauce.

    Cereals and Fruits

    • Extend the reach of cereals beyond the breakfast table and add a cup of your child's favorite cereal to the lunchbox. All you need is a plastic container with a lid to hold a cup of cereal. Have your child pick up a cold carton of milk at the lunchroom and pour it over the cereal. Toss in an apple, banana or orange to round out the meal in style.

    Mexican Food

    • Add a little excitement to your child's lunch by serving up tacos, burritos or nachos. Make soft-shelled flour or corn tacos by adding ground beef or ground turkey, lettuce and cheese inside a tortilla shell, and then wrapping it all with plastic wrap. If your child doesn't care for ground beef or turkey, make tacos with a black or pinto bean base instead. Make burritos by adding any combination of ground beef, chicken, beans, rice, salsa, sour cream and cheese to a tortilla shell. Roll up the burritos and wrap in plastic wrap. Serve up nachos by placing tortilla chips in a plastic sandwich bag. Use a small plastic container to pack a serving of your child's favorite salsa. Place shredded cheese in another container, and your child will have fun building nachos at school.


    • Pastas, such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce or simply buttered spaghetti noodles with Parmesan cheese, make another filling lunch option for kids. Heat the pasta lunches at home, and then place them in a thermos to keep warm until lunchtime. Other warm pasta choices include fettuccine Alfredo, ravioli or pasta primavera with peas. On the cold side of the pasta choices, you might pack a chicken Caesar salad with spiral noodles or a Greek pasta salad made with penne noodles, vegetables and feta cheese.

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  • Photo Credit ham on pita image by Liz Van Steenburgh from

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