First Week of School Lunches Gluten Free

There she goes. My Bunky, scooting off to school. Pre-K. Full-time.

It’s been a crazy week. I’m totally, utterly, over-the-top exhausted. Between the early morning chaos of getting a spirited preschooler breakfasted and dressed, and simultaneously making her a healthy lunch with 2 snacks, while attempting to feed the poor neglected Little Guy (strapped in his high chair, I practically throw chunks of food at him) and guzzling coffee, totally forgetting to eat, dress, or brush my own teeth. Then rushing out the door carrying her backpack and jogging alongside her as she scoots her way to pre-K.

I’m a little more tired having written all that.

Besides worrying about separation anxiety and all the zillions of school forms we had to fill out, my biggest stress was about food. As my dad would say, so new? Okay, fine, it’s true. I’m pretty much always stressed about food, but packing lunch and snacks for my picky celiac kiddo every day was really upping the anxiety levels. On top of that, I also had to vet all our food for the no peanut rule, which also includes made in a facility with nuts. Totally get it, but it added another layer of vigilance.

Ultimately though, I prevailed. With only one cut on my finger (this morning), I did it. 5 days, 5 food compartments, 2 snacks per day.

My tools of the lunch trade (so far): Planet Box  and Laptop Lunches.

I am perhaps a little too in love with my (um, I mean Bunky’s) Planet Box. I bought the Rover System (smaller kid’s size, the Launch is for bigger kids or even grown ups), the purple carrying case and two sets of magnet to be put on top of the stainless steel box: fairies and unicorn rainbows. (There is a nice variety of magnets to choose from.)

When it came in the mail, I opened the box like a kid on Christmas (or Chanukah in my house).

The magnets go on the outside of the stainless steel box, but I put one on the carrying case just to show you what it looks like. Each magnet set comes with 5 magnets and one has a spot to write your child’s name.

I used Planet Box all week, but when B’s new Laptop Lunch box came yesterday, we tried it out Friday morning. It’s really nice, and is BPA free plastic versus stainless sleel, so weighs considerably less, but also has one less compartment. Still awesome though. If you buy the set it comes with a high quality spoon and fork. The purple square you see is a napkin I bought as an extra. I’m a total sucker, it’s true.

Laptop Lunch box. Isn’t it so pretty? (Yes, I’m insane.)

Finally, here is what you’ve been waiting for – less talk, more action. 5 days of lunch ideas, plus snacks (not pictured, but described).

Day 1: Monday’s Menu – grilled cheese (cooled before putting it in), strawberries, edamame, carrots and cut up cheese stick, popcorn, and one Enjoy Life (nut free, dairy free, gluten free) chocolate cookie in the small center square. In the big snack circle (called the Big Dipper, you know, it’s a space theme) were apple cut up with a small flower cookie cutter and topped with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to deal with browning. She refused to eat them because they were brown. Sigh. But I tried them and they were delicious. The Little Dipper has a hard boiled egg. She ate that at least. Edamame was sadly ignored but everything else disappeared. Score one for Team Mama.

Day 1

Day 2: Tuesday’s Menu – Cheese quesadilla, cheddar rice crackers, watermelon and cucumbers cut with mini animal cookie cutters, fresh mango slices and raisins in the center. Truth be told, Bunky gagged on the mango when she tried it before leaving. She is VERY sensitive to texture. Sigh again. So I replaced it with Pirate’s Booty.

Day 2

About snacks… the truth is I have NO IDEA. I meant to write them down, but clearly forgot. Snacks were my biggest challenge because after putting all my brain power into lunch (which is already 3-4 “snacks” because of the Bento-esque compartments) I was burnt out. I got a bit better mid-week, picking one fruit and one carb/protein. For example today ‘s snacks are a banana and hummus with carrots. Yesterday’s was a whole apple (which = no browning) and fresh mozzarella cut into mini circles.

Day 3: Wednesday’s Menu – Hump day did not work well for me, though I at least remembered to take a picture of one snack (cheddar cheese cut into small circles with a red decorative heart added for love). The cheese and turkey sandwich made on Udi’s bread, no crusts, was semi successful, but the raspberries were deemed “gross and mushy” by my expressive 4-year-old. Fortunately, there were also strawberries. The corn tortilla chips were a hit, the avocado – which turned brown – was not. In the center are dried cranberries.

Day 3

Does this photo make you dizzy like it does to me? My photography is getting worse each day. We are barely on time for school. Mornings are insane, it’s like a food bomb hit the kitchen, between my frantic lunch preparations and tossing banana pieces and rice puffs at Little Guy.

Day 4: Thursday’s Menu – Since my girl was leaving a lot of her bread behind (sad, sad is the state of GF bread, even good old Udi’s doesn’t always travel well) I decided to do turkey roll-ups and cheddar cheese cut into flower shapes. Carrots and celery (barely eaten, too stringy), grapes with one watermelon flower in the middle, Glutino pretzels, and a mixture of cranberries and raisins in the center.

Day 4

Day 5: Friday’s Menu – This lunch was packed in the Laptop Lunch box which has one less compartment, a good thing because by today I was out of ideas and nearly out of food. I burnt my last piece of Udi’s bread this morning after slicing my finger trimming the crusts, so I used a half a bagel for turkey and cheese. Strawberries (since the poor raspberries got the boot earlier in the week), popcorn, and cooked green beans… we’ll see how those do! A banana for snack that I packed along with carrots and hummus.

Day 5

If the menu sounds a little redundant, it’s because my kid seems to like redundancy. I will try to be creative and throw in a green bean wild card or two, but ultimately I want her to eat, so for now I’ll try to stick with her favorites. Unless I get some great ideas from you. Please. Help a mama out, would you? I’m too tired to even think about what to pack for next week. It’s all I can do to make my own lunch now. Oh, yeah, and take care of my sweet Little Guy who is currently on the floor trying to eat shoes. Yes, I feed him, he just prefers to gnaw on his sister’s dirty Crocs.

Final picture though, I can’t resist… my Pinktastic Girl this morning. All smiles and speed.

Thank you to for inviting me to the wonderful Gluten Free Fridays Recipe link up! Check out the other great recipes by clicking the button below.

20 thoughts on “First Week of School Lunches Gluten Free

  1. Your ingenuity was exhausting to read about…you get the amazing lunch parent award. For whatever reason both my girls, celiac and non-celiac, don’t like sandwiches. A lot of lunches are leftovers from dinner in a thermos. If you pour very hot water into the thermos and let it sit for a few minutes before you put the heated up food in, it will keep the food warmer. Another bread less tip: make circles with a biscuit cutter of deli turkey and sliced cheese and make little stacks of these circles.

    • Hi Laura! I’m totally insane, I know. I should really find a new hobby or something 🙂 I think I must be trying to overcompensate, and my husband has asked me to chill out a bit going forward, which I plan on doing. Thanks for the thermos idea and the cool bread-less tip. She loves circles of food, so it’s pretty perfect!

  2. How cool are those lunch boxes?! I don’t usually like my food touching so I load my purse with stacks of Tupperware. I will definitely be investigating them.

    • Hi Danielle, thanks for your comment! It makes me feel less crazy when other people appreciate the lunch boxes 🙂

      I’m not sure what I like more, the name of your blog or your email!

      Hope you visit again,

  3. Thank you for commenting on my blog posts! 🙂 Glad to have found your site through them. My daughter being gluten and nut free due to alleriges it is tough, but for us, is life so it becomes second nature. 🙂 Looking forward to following your posts!

    • Hi Keeley, I’ve been a fan of your awesome Bento lunch site for a while now, and am honored to have you following my blog 🙂 Yes, it totally does become second nature. I remember thinking how hard grocery shopping first was newly gluten free, but now it’s no big deal.

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  5. I completely empathize with you! When I took my son off of wheat and then gluten a short time after, school lunches were not an option (not like they were a great option to begin with). Being creative and keeping his interest became a challenge. After having tackled lunches similarly to what you’ve done, this year (4th grade), he just wants to be normal. He’s chosen PBJ on Udi’s, apple slices or grapes, some nut chips and a milk. I usually throw in some carrots or broccoli for snack as well as some almonds for protein as they are allowed to snack in class. It’s definitely a challenge. Thanks for sharing your journey

    • Hi Suzanne, thank you for your kind and empathetic note. It IS a challenge to keep the creativity going! I just discovered the wonder of “kebobs” which means I stick a bunch of cheese and/or fruit/veg cubes on these plastic stirrers I found at the dollar store (they are safer than actual kebob sticks because they have a round ball at the end versus sharp point). That helped for a few days! Thank goodness for Udi’s, too. I’ve been using a flower cookie cutter to make her sandwiches look more fun. Hope you visit again!

  6. Good for you! You made it through a week of lovely lunches. The box is really groovy, I must say. Would have been great … mine is 11 now and is a little easier to please with food. His father is gluten free, so he is sometimes 😉

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I feel more relaxed now, a month in, but the lunch boxes help keep everything organized, which is nice. Glad to have found your blog. Come again for some GF inspiration for your guys 🙂

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  10. the joys of packing lunches! My youngest son just started grade 12, so my lunch box days are almost over. He packs his own lunch by now, but i (still) sneak peaks to make sure he is packing good stuff….

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