Being a G-Free parent requires a fair amount of creativity, especially when it comes to packing a sack lunch. Sure, we could send our kids off with the same old G-Free PB everyday, but with a little bit of extra effort, we can make them the envy of the lunchroom. Here are a few ideas to get you started....
Lettuce/Cabbage Wraps - Pretty much anything that you can put in a sandwich can be wrapped up in lettuce. If you use lettuce, I recommend a softer variety, like butter lettuce. To use cabbage simply blanche it for one minute before wrapping. This is also a great way to use leftover taco fillings.
Lunchmeat Rollups - Same concept...use sandwich fillings, just eliminate the bread. I like turkey, honey mustard, lettuce, tomato and swiss cheese. This usually works best with a lunchmeat slice that’s not too thick, if you have a thinner slice, use two or three for each roll.
Kabobs - I’m not sure why, but kids love kabobs. Take a popsicle stick and slide alternating chunks of meat, cheese and veggies. Try chunks of ham, cherry tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Leftover grilled chicken or steak also works well. Don’t forget to add a dipping sauce like ranch, honey mustard or blue cheese.
Corn Tortilla Quesadillas and Taquitos - Here’s another great use for leftovers. Shredded meat, cheese, veggies, and beans all make delicious quesadillas. Take a corn tortilla, layer fillings, and top with another tortilla. Fry in a little bit of olive oil or butter until your tortilla is browned and your fillings are warm and gooey. These can be kept warm in a wide neck thermos (Pottery Barn makes a good one) or eaten at room temperature.
I also like to keep G-Free taquitos in the freezer and when I don’t have time to make lunch, I heat them in the oven while I make coffee, cut them in half and put them in the thermos. Dip quesadillas and taquitos in salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.
Salad - Not all kids eat salad, but if yours does, this is a healthy and easy option. Chinese chicken salad is usual a hit with kids. Pack separate containers of lettuce and almonds, chicken, mandarin oranges and ginger or sesame dressing and then let your child assemble his salad at school. Bento Box kits work really well for this type of lunch. I love the set by Laptop Lunches (I got mine at Whole Foods). You get a bento set with five separate containers, silverware, and a water bottle. All that gear fits into an insulated lunchbox with a pocket for an ice pack. It’s a little pricey, but genius!
Leftovers! - Obviously, I’m a huge advocate of using up leftovers. This really works best with a thermal container, and I like to have a few different sizes on hand depending on what I’m sending. Leftover G-Free pasta dishes, soups, curries (yes, my kids eat curry) make awesome lunches. Best of all, the only prep work involved is putting them in the microwave.
These are my favorite ways to make G-Free lunches delicious and fun. If you’ve got some good ideas, please share them with us! Happy packing!