Keeping lunch boxes varied and nutritionally balanced can be quite a task! And when everything needs to be made without gluten there is an added challenge. But it doesn’t need to be as big a challenge as it seems with the following helpful tips!
Planning and involving the child when making things for the lunch box is a great way to ensure everything is eaten. Lunches provide around one third of a child’s daily nutritional needs, so it is good to include a balance of protein, dairy, good carbohydrates, fruit, and vegetables. Some of the recipes here will include ways of sneaking in extra veg and fruit.
Remember if you are including a food which is new to a child, they will need to taste it several times before liking it so don’t give up if it comes back on the first day!
Most kids love pasta and rice: Cook batch rice or gluten free penne or fusilli (good size pasta pieces for eating in a hurry) on an evening when it is for dinner. Cool the extra pasta/rice thoroughly under cold water, drain it and put into a container and stir through a glug of olive oil. Put lid on and keep it in the fridge. When cooling rice. It must be cooled completely under cold water and strain, keep in the fridge. It must be totally cold right through the rice to avoid the growth of bacteria, which could cause food poisoning. This can be used for the next 3 to 4 days with a combination of the following stirred through.
- Gluten free red pesto and grated cheese with chopped tomatoes
- Grated cheese with chopped grilled rashers (or ham) and sweetcorn
- Cream cheese with chives, leftover cooked broccoli, and cooked chicken
- Tuna, sweetcorn or diced peppers and gluten free mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.
- Leftover roasted vegetables, crumbled feta cheese.
Each day the combination can be put in a small, lidded container and a spoon added to the lunchbox.
Protein is so important for growing kids – try some of the following simple ideas to get some protein in your child’s diet:
- Poultry: Cook plain (or ones seasoned with Cajun spices for the more adventurous child) chicken breasts and have them with any lunch or dinner. Or stir-fry strips of turkey breast in olive oil, lemon and thyme (or any combination your child likes).
- Beef: Thin strips of lean steak like striploin could also be stir-fried with black pepper. These can be cooled and stored in the fridge for 3 days, to use with pasta or salad or for sandwiches. This type of option is less high in salt than processed meats
- Eggs can be hard boiled and stored in the fridge in the shell until needed. Peel and mix with chopped scallions and gluten free mayonnaise or simply cut in wedges and put into a small, lidded box for lunch.