Parents have it tough. Not only do we have to nourish and enrich our children’s lives with healthy food to help them grow strong, give them clothing to protect their bodies, and provide them with toys and books to enrich their minds, but we also have to protect them from harm, show them right from wrong, teach them to be brave, emotionally strong, self-sufficient and sure of themselves, and we have to educate them on the ways in which to interact with others – to show empathy and sympathy, mercy, grace, and respect – and to constantly be thinking how they can help the world to be a better place. Its a lot of responsibility, and its something that as I continue in my parenting journey I realize that its hard, and that its something that is always evolving and changing.
Chances are more and more likely that you, your children, or someone in your family will have food allergies. Its kind of worrisome that these allergies seem to be getting more and more prevalent. But even if you are lucky enough to never have to worry about life-threatening allergies, food elimination diets, or food intolerance, its just as important to know that even if you aren’t affected by someone with this, someone around you probably is.
One day this past summer, we went to the park for picnic with a friend and her kiddos. We set out our blankets, we corralled 5 small children in one area, we unpacked our food, and we started to have our lunch. Shortly after we got there, another family came to the park and sat a little ways away from us, also there to enjoy a family picnic before playing. We noticed that the young kids in this family were having a really hard time sitting down and eating – they were too interested in playing and climbing and running around, and it wasn’t long before these children talked their mom into letting them take their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the playground with them. This is where things got interesting – because my friend has super severe peanut allergies, and now instead of a fun and relaxing afternoon at the park, she was having to worry about where that peanut butter was being smeared and whether she or her kids would come into contact with it. Just by her children touching a swing with peanut butter on it, and then touching her, she could have died. Now this is absolutely not a critique on this mother at all – we are all doing our best, here, and we need to support each other in that endeavor. She just didn’t know.
With my oldest daughter starting kindergarten this fall and taking cold lunches with her, I am constantly thinking about the items that we pack into her lunchbox – not only do I want to make sure she has a healthy, tasty, and interesting lunch that she will enjoy, but I also want to make sure that it will be a healthy and safe experience for her classmates, as well.
I have an awesomely helpful and totally free printable for you – CLICK HERE to download it! Print it off, throw it in a page protector and then let your kids use it to help you pack lunches everyday! Getting your children involved in preparing their own lunches not only helps you out time-wise, but it also helps them to be more responsible, to understand healthy food choices, and be more likely to eat the food that is packed of them.
Whether or not you need allergen friendly lunch ideas, here are some awesome, tasty, healthy and safe options that everyone can enjoy!
- salami stacks
- ham or turkey and cheese roll-ups
- chicken salad made with greek yogurt and crackers
- sun butter and jelly sandwiches
- homemade white bean dip with veggies and/or pita chips
- sliced cooked sausage or bratwurst
- meatballs in a thermos
- warmed soup in a thermos
- sunbutter and jelly with pretzel dippers
- hardboiled eggs
- leftover chicken or turkey meat, cut into cubes
- Serve whole or sliced
- Serve with a dipper like dessert hummus, sun-butter mixed with honey, or cream cheese dip
- In skewers mixed with other fruit
- cut into cute shapes using small cutters
- applesauce (can also find other fruits or veggies mixed with these)
- baby carrots, sliced peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes with homemade ranch using greek yogurt
- black bean salsa with corn chips
- homemade black bean dip with carrots, sliced peppers, or pita chips
- cold pasta salad
- plain popcorn
- cheesy crackers
- gluten free-pretzels
- Cheese sticks
- organic yogurt tubes
- Cream cheese spread to dip into fruit
- trail mixes
- mini muffins
- dried fruit
- chocolate popcorn trail mix
- fruit salsa with cinnamon pita chips
- 1.5 cups gluten free pretzel twists (like Snyder's)
- 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate allergen-free EnjoyLife morsels
- 1/2 cup white chocolate dairy free chips
- 4 cups chocolate dusted popcorn
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Store in an airtight container and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 877 Total Fat: 47g Saturated Fat: 28g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 30mg Sodium: 331mg Carbohydrates: 102g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 76g Protein: 12g