Nut-Free Lunch Ideas For Picky Kids


Lunchtime can be hard for both the parent and a child when a school is requesting food to be nut free. While my child has to live nut free every day and it’s a little easier for me to come up with ideas, other parents of children with no food allergies can often find themselves frustrated and stumped on what to send in their child’s lunchbox.

First, let me say one thing. Thank You.

I know it’s hard to pack a nut free  lunch for a child who loves to eat peanut butter and jelly. It’s hard for parents who have children with nut allergies to come up with nut free lunches, not just at school but at home and at every single meal. Peanut allergies are life threatening and we appreciate the care that you help take to keep all children safe at school.

Nut-Free Lunch Ideas For Picky Kids

This is Andrew, my peanut and tree nut allergy child. He started his first day of school yesterday and his number one fear, was not meeting new kids or the teacher, it was “Will someone bring peanuts to school and make me go to the hospital?” This is heart breaking as a parent. It’s hard on both ends when it comes to requesting a school to be nut free.

Andrew just went off to his second day at school, so the school lunch thing is fairly new to me too. It makes things even harder when you don’t have a microwave or oven to help prepare the lunch.

Though this is a new territory for me, having a child with a nut allergy in school, I wanted to share some of the ideas that we have come up with to send in his lunchbox.

If you have ideas of your own, please leave a comment below! My goal with this post is to help as many parents as possible with preparing nut free lunches for the picky child.

Nut-Free Lunch Ideas For Picky Kids

Nut-Free  Lunch Ideas:

  • Hotdogs – cook them in the morning and put it into a thermos. They will stay nice and warm until lunch time
  • Lunchables – Most of these are safe, with the exception of ones with candy like Reese’s
  • Spaghetti O’s – Just this morning, I heated the Spaghetti O’s up and put them into a thermos.
  • Mac N Cheese – Same thing, cook it in the morning or heat up some left overs and put it into a thermos
  • SunButter and SoyButter – Both of these are great alternatives to peanut butter.
  • Sandwich Wraps – These are great and my child loves them! Meat and Cheese sandwiches, lettuce, red pepper.. whatever your child loves
  • Pepperoni – Some days we do a big variety at lunch, pepperoni’s, cheese sticks, yogurt, carrot sticks with ranch, grapes, strawberries, raisins.
  • Spaghetti – Same as the Spaghetti O’s – cook it the night before, warm it up in the morning and put it into a thermos
  • Bagels – Bagels with cream cheese or even jelly, make a bagel into a sandwich with meat and cheese
  • Cottage Cheese – This may or may not be on a picky kid’s wish list. Some days Andrew will eat and some he will not. Mix fruit into the cottage cheese and you will have a nice protein packed lunch.
  • Bacon – My kids LOVE turkey bacon
  • Chicken Nuggets – I haven’t tried this yet. But I would think that you could prepare chicken nuggets and send them in a thermos.


Nut Free Lunch Sides:

  • Fruits – Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Watermelon, Strawberries
  • Vegetables – Carrot Sticks, Cucumbers, Red Peppers
  • String Cheese
  • Baybel Cheese Wedges
  • Nutri Grain Bars
  • Chips
  • Animal Crackers
  • Cheezits
  • Quaker School Days Granola Bars
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Goldfish
  • Raisins  – Plain only – Yogurt Covered Raisins are mostly manufactured in a plant with nuts

Nut Free Dessert Ideas:

  • Hershey Kisses
  • Pudding
  • Oreos
  • Tootsie Rolls

In yesterdays lunch, I sent cut up deli meat, cheddar cheese slices, applesauce, grapes and raisins. Today we sent a thermos of Spaghetti, grapes, package of oreo bites. Andrew is loving school lunches!

While this is a guide to help you with nut-free lunch ideas, please always check the labels when purchasing food for your children. What is safe today, might not always be safe tomorrow.


5 thoughts on “Nut-Free Lunch Ideas For Picky Kids

  • July 28, 2017 at 8:53 am
    Thanks for posting! & Thank you to the other mom's for their ideas. I've taken some notes here. My daughter has been at a nut-free school already, but it was a little more lax than the new one will be - like it was ok to bring snacks that did not explicitly say they were made in a nut-free facility. They also had a refrigerator and a micro-wave! So I could send rice and beans or spaghetti without a thermos. The new school is nut-free and has no refrigeration or microwave. Now in addition to that, my five year old girl won't eat sandwiches, cold cuts or cheese. I've tried hard boiled eggs and thanks to your blog I will try wraps to see if maybe I can get her interested in something else. I'm not a fan of wraps myself tho - so it'll be on dad to make these look yummy! Fingers crossed. Reply
    • July 30, 2017 at 9:37 pm
      I've had to get creative with my kids! Usually by the end of the school year it's lunchables LOL My daughter loves the nacho lunchable, pepperoni one too, it's always hit and miss. You will find something that works, she won't let herself go hungry :) At least that's what I tell myself! Reply
  • August 17, 2016 at 10:24 am
    Thank you for posting this! While I have one older child with a peanut allergy, his is not severe and it was not until this year that the school went nut free and I'm struggling with my other three children who often request peanut butter daily. My peanut allergy child is a picky eater and will do soynut butter almost every day over anything else, but my other children like variety, so it's great to see some ideas that I know they will eat. Other ideas that I have tried, but picky eaters won't like so much is tuna salad (tuna, cut apples, craisins, cut up cucumbers, a little mayo and a dash of mustard. sometimes I add a bit up sliced grapes too) my non-picky eaters love this with bread or crackers or even just to eat with a spoon. Ham, spread cream cheese, roll it up, cut it into 1/2 inch pieces and serve with crackers. tomato, cucumber and cheese salad. Italian pasta salad, which is cooled (cooked) pasta, italian dressing, pepperoni, cucumber, tomato, cubed cheese and olives if they like them. Served cold. Those are some of the things mine will eat, though some younger ones may not like them. Reply
  • September 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm
    Thank you for picky eater {not allergic to anything} typically will only eat peanut butter and jelly. This week we got a letter home indicating that there is a nut allergy, so I'm on the hunt for ideas!!! His Pepperoni Pizza Quesadilla didn't do the the trick today...I suppose he's going to get VERY hungry before he'll try something new :) Appreciate the ideas though! Reply
  • April 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm
    Thank you for writing this. My son does not have any nut allergies but he is going to attend a school next year where the campus is nut free. He is very picky and typically eats peanut butter and jelly for lunch almost everyday. This will aide me to be creative with packing his snacks and lunches. Reply

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