These days so many schools have nut-free tables or classrooms, or are even entirely nut-free! I know when I was first required to pack nut-free lunches for my daughters, I was pretty worried about this uncharted territory. I really had to focus on every.little.thing I was packing to make sure there was no cross contamination or broken rules.
I eventually got used to it of course, but for all those who are still figuring out how to pack an allergy-friendly school lunch this year or are even looking for ideas for a kid of your own that has a nut allergy, then this is for you!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite School Lunch Supplies and the School Lunch FAQs.
175 Nut-Free School Lunch Ideas
Below you will find 175 nut-free school lunches (that I’ve sent my kids) that you can use for inspiration. You can narrow the results with the drop down filter or search bar…for example, hot lunches only or search for lunches that use an ingredient you have on hand.
- Tomato bisque with whole wheat noodles
- Pita panini with roasted bell peppers/pesto/cheese
- Whole grain pumpkin muffin
- Asian lettuce wrap
- Whole grain pumpkin muffin
- Pique Tea crystal packet to add to water
69 thoughts on “Nut-Free School Lunch Ideas”
Just stating a small fact that may have been over looked . Peas are in the same family as peanuts they can and often do cause reactions that are blamed on peanuts. My child is allergic to all nuts including peas anything in the legume family can trigger a reaction.
Thank you so much for writing this piece. My son is allergic to peanuts, and it is always a scary thing to send him off to school everyday. Sometimes, I am just happy to have him come home every day without any dreadful phone calls. I would like to reiterate that this allergy is life-threatening. I can understand people without food allergies feeling inconvenienced, but none of us want to inconvenience others. We just want our kids safe and secure in school, and to come home alive. Just as a little tip, MANY chocolates that appear to be nut or peanut free, are actually NOT. Manufacturers are not required to list any possible cross contamination of major allergens if they do not want to. Therefore, MOST chocolates (chocolate chips, chocolate bars etc.) are not nut free. A good source of nut free/peanut free/dairy free chocolate is from Enjoy Life. It actually tastes pretty good too. Thank you for helping people navigate through nut free living. It truly is a lifesaver.
Finally! Ideas for nut-free lunches that my kid might actually eat! My son is starting school in the fall and I’ve been looking at loads of lunch ideas but most of them look like way too much work, or they include dishes that appeal to adults but not children.
Your ideas are great. Now I feel like I can manage to put together a good variety of nut-free school lunches.
Thanks so much for putting this together.
Thanks for this page. As a fellow nut allergy mom I too agree it feels like a job sometimes to work around nut allergies. I am thankful for all the options we have nowadays. For parents without allergies, I understand your frustration but please understand that a child’s life is on the line where the possibility is death. This is not something we choose to have, it chose us. I hope that Lisa’s site can continue to bring you ideas so your child(ren) may have options as well.
There is another alternative to nut-butters. It’s called wow-butter. It’s made from non-GMO soybeans and it tastes quite a lot like peanut butter. Any kid I’ve given it to can’t tell the difference. My son is allergic to peanuts and we use wow-butter instead of sunflower butter because we think it tastes a lot better :) Just thought I would let you know!
I first visited your website to find other recipes for healthy school lunch ideas. My daughters’ school is completely nut free and my oldest daughter is now gluten-free to aid her digestion. Your new website is very helpful in searching for options. I hope you will add more recipes that meet these combined restrictions, especially ones that contain enough protein to keep them fueled for the rest of the school day. I also find the pictures helpful as packing the foods in a environmentally friendly manner is always a challenge.
Thank-you for your time and effort. I am a mother with a nut allergy child and it is a 24 hour 7 days a week 365 days a year every meal job. I to find it hard to pack a healthy lunch that she will eat. I have found this site very helpful.
YAY!! Inspiration has returned! My daughter, although not a nut allergy kiddo, has friends that she sits with at lunch who do have nut allergies. She is very conscientious of those allergies and wont bring anything with nuts in it for lunch so she can enjoy time with her friends. This has become a whole new world for me since I’m fortunate enough to not have any allergies in my home. Given that she packs lunch each day, coming up with new/creative/not the same ol’ same ol’ lunch ideas has been, well rather taxing. THANK YOU for posting the pics and ideas!! I feel like lunchtime has been saved….for me!!!
Thank you for these ideas, since because we are in a peanut free classroom, the only thing I can get my child to eat is an egg. Not happy that my child doesn’t get to eat because his only food he will eat are eggs and nut butters, granola, nut bars, etc. Frustrating.
This should be your next book! Ideas are the hardest part of packing a lunch, at least for me.
I love all of these ideas for lunch. I currently work in a school that is nut-free and am always trying to come up with something more creative than – salad. I’m also a vegetarian who depends on nuts and legumes for protein. You have given me so many great ideas! Where did you find that great stainless steel container with the multiple compartments?
Hi Amy. It is a planet box. You can find it here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/09/product-review-lunchboxes/. ~Amy
My son will be starting kindergarden in the fall. I am concerned that for any dessert, the school only allows pre-packaged cookies and muffins and any other kind of deserts with the Peanut-Free logo on the packages.
I feel that this forces me to feed my child processed food. I went to my local organic food store and they didn’t have any snacks that were garanteed to be peanut free. I am dissappointed. I was looking forward to baking banana bread or apple sauce cake (cake sweetened with apple sauce as opposed to sugar; my kids loves it!)Does anyone have any suggestions as to what to pack that would be somewhat healthy?
Hi Angela. Are you able to send in fresh fruit?
I can’t seem to find the Barbara’s Shredded Wheat Squares on their website. Are they just 1 ingredient like the Shredded Wheat Biscuits?
I love the effort that you put in each lunch. It is so heartwarming to see.
I have been on your website for over an hour. I am totally intrigued by this concept that I could actually get my family to eat non-processed foods! LOL! My son has some severe food allergies and I loved looking through all of your nut free school lunch ideas. I will admit that I want to do this but I am concerned about time and everything with school and work. I am definitely going to do the 10 day challenge! Love the website!!!
Thank-you! Love the ideas! As a mom of a severely allergic child thank you for taking it so seriously and mentioning cross contamination!
I love the mexican one with quesadillas, tortilla soup and sour cream!
These are wonderful ideas. I often struggle with coming up with creative ideas for my daughter’s lunch. She’s a great eater and loves most foods…although getting her to eat the simples like carrots and broccoli is often a struggle!! I can’t tell you how much this post is going to help me. With two kids, a full time career and over an hour travel every day, it’s also nice to see some things that aren’t going to take up too much time. Thank you!!
I LOVE these! I think my son would gobble these right up! I’m bookmarking this to come back to get some new ideas when I’m trying to put something together! Thanks! Great job!
These are awesome! I think I’m going to prepare these for myself too! Also, I love how you’ve incorporated both veggies AND fruits in the meals- bet your child loves them!
Thanks for all of the great ideas on your website! I love all the great info and beautiful photos. Our family would love to switch to whole foods completely, but we have major challenges because our son has severe food allergies to peanut, dairy and egg and a wheat intolerance. Could you give suggestions, or even do a post for families with such food restrictions?
Hi there Shellie. We have a couple posts on food allergies and how to eat real in spite of them: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/06/28/food-allergies/ and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/31/food-allergies-dairy/. Beyond these, make the adaptations that are necessary but may not be perfect and just do your best. :) ~Amy
My daughter who is thirteen would starve if I only fed her those portion sizes. Sure would be nice if you gave some ideas for older kids ( teens ) that would be more substantial and not break the bank. My 10 yr old son is a light eater and would be happy with those portion sizes but is a VERY picky eater. He eats cheese, carrot sticks or strawberries and tortilla chips, crackers or pretzels every day. While the chips/pretzels/crackers aren’t considered whole food, I am fine with it. His lunch is still balanced and healthy.
JJ- just double up on some of the item suggestions. I make homemade uncrustables for my 5 kiddos. The 2 big eaters get 2 in their lunch. Sometimes they get 2 apples, 2 WW waffles, muffins etc.
My kids also love leftover burgers(no buns) for lunch. We do them like lunchables with the cheese, pickles, ketchup on the side. Super filling.:)
Thank you very much for posting these ideas. I have nut allergies, so we are slowly trying different types of nuts with our young children (3 y.o. and 1 y.o. twins), but we mostly eat nut-free. I appreciate when schools and other facilities are conscious of nut allergies. Please continue to post nut-free ideas and products.
Hi! I’m in awe of all of these ideas/photos! Question: how do you keep pears and apples from browning? (I assume lemon juice, but maybe you have a better trick?)
Hi Lauren. Lisa typically doesn’t use anything. Her girls don’t mind a little browning. Personally, I find lemon juice to work best. ~Amy
These are awesome lunch ideas, but I have to say – do you feed birdies? My son is 7 and in our area we have 2 ‘nutrition breaks’. I assume one is meant to be more of a snack, but my son pretty much treats it as 2 lunches … those lunches shown would pretty much have to be doubled for him!!! He’s resorted on one occasion to visiting his sisters Kindergarten class to scavenge off her lunch extras :)
Hi Inge. Lisa’s kids also have a morning snack at school which is usually hot oatmeal. I promise they are well nourished. ;) All of our kids are going to have different appetites. I have one who licks his lunch bag clean and another who would rather socialize than eat. :) ~Amy
wow! These lunch ideas are great, thank you for sharing.
Great blog, some other bloggers and I start a link up called Real Food Fridays. It is to help others go organic, I would love it if you would post this there.
This is such a great post. With so many kids that are allergic to nuts, this give parents some great ideas
Hi! Thank you for posting these ideas. I have 4 kids ages 7,5,4 and 2. Do your kids ever ask for more food? I feed my kids whole food and they eat A LOT! They are active and are not obese. Curious to know if anyone’s kids eat more food then this. We would love to cut down on our food cost since we do mostly organic and whole/real food. Thank you for your help or any feedback!
Hi Sue. Lisa’s girls are satisfied by their lunches. They do have a morning snack at school (usually oatmeal) and a snack after school (often a smoothie). All appetites are going to vary and you have to plan your lunches based on your own kids. :) ~Amy
I just posted that these seem like petite lunches as well. We have 2 ‘nutrition breaks’ at schools in our area. My son (7) would need at least 2 of those – one for each break. He too is very active and solid, but slim (if that makes sense). He is certainly not carrying extra weight, but can eat more than my husband on occasion! My daughter (5) is a lighter eater, but unfortunately carries more weight – poor girl.
You’re definitely not the only one who would have to beef up those lunches ;-)
Yogurt is great for lunch! Also hummus or white bean dip. Mini lentil loaves.
My daughter has been in nut-free classrooms for 3 years now, she doesn’t eat meat and we are primarily gluten-free (b/c I can’t eat it), but we always manage. Honestly, I miss the convenience of throwing in a few nuts or a home-baked goodie (I use almond flour a bit) but it is only one 1 meal and 1 snack/day. She can eat all the nuts she wants at home.
I think my favorite is the banana pancake cream cheese sandwich!
I’m always running out of ideas for nut-free lunches – at home and for school (we have a nut allergy in our home, too). These are great ideas – thanks for sharing!
Your ideas are great. I have tried most of these with my youngest but she won’t eat anything shown but the cheese and crackers and chocolate. If she doesn’t eat at school she gets really cranky, so I give her Almond Butter on a pita. She doesn’t like fruit or veggies and even most crackers.
Does she have sensory issues? If so, that’s something totally different and out of my league.
Can the 2 of you brain storm some ideas that she would like and get her involved in making or packing? If she will eat almond butter and pita, will she eat sunflower butter and pita? Plain yogurt with some applesauce, jam, honey or maple syrup is another possibility.
Unless she is eating primarily nuts at home, surely there are other nut-free dishes you can pack for her?
When my daughter was in pre-school, she and I sat down and she had to name 5-7 vegetables she was willing to eat and 5-7 fruits. (She actually loves fruits, so that one was easy for us.) She likes carrots, so sometimes I crinkle cut carrots or steam them to make them more interesting. Frozen peas were on her list, so were edamame, cucumber and red bell pepper. (She is in grade 1 now, but I still remember!) Our agreement was that for lunch, I would only pack healthy things that she likes. At dinner, there would always be one veg that she liked and one that she had to try. Now she eats quite a variety of veggies.
Great post! My daughter is HIGHLY allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and we have been making better food decisions recently cutting out lots of processed foods. I was just noticing how many of your meals show nuts in me. Thanks for considering all of those kids allergic to nuts! It is appreciated :)
This is the first year she hasn’t been in the nut free classroom … I think if you go back to older posts you’d see a lot more nut free! My son is PN/TN/Legume allergic … :( I am also going to need a lot of help with easy allergy-free healthy meals when he’s school age!
Thanks, Laura. I will check out the older posts :)
It certainly can be challenging to satisfy picky eaters in nut free classrooms! The girls I babysit have both been in that situation, and the oldest especially LOVES peanut butter sandwiches! Luckily neither has a nut free classroom this year, and they’re both packing their own lunches with light guidance from me (6th and 3rd grade) so it’s been easier to pack balanced, healthy meals that actually get eaten. I wish I had seen some of these ideas a few years ago, it would have helped a lot! Filing it all away for future use though
I think there are many great ideas here, but eating most of these items cold doesn’t appeal to me at all. Wondering how many kids are ok with it.
my son gets most of his lunches cold- I actually used the thermos for the first time today. He just turned 6, and doesn’t mind. He often eats cold leftovers at home, as do I…. It drives my mother crazy, but it doesn’t bother either one of us :)
We use a thermos for soups and cheesy noodles. Otherwise it is cold/room temp and it’s fine. Every kid is different though – I found that if I explain that either cold or she needs to choose a different lunch, she deals with it. My daughter is 6.
My child has a life-threatening peanut allergy and is in a “nut-free” classroom but the kids in her class are still allowed to pack peanut butter or peanut products for lunch. Thank you for these ideas. I wish more moms were this understanding of allergies even if their kids don’t have them.
How can it be a nut free classroom if nuts are allowed?!
My child does have a food allergy, but I would never expect other parents to leave out certain foods just because of him. As long as he eats only his lunch, he can not have a reaction. It is impossible to react to a food unless it is ingested. These are great lunch ideas but we shouldn’t spread fear of allergies.
This is simply not true. Many allergies, especially severe food allergies, are air-borne. You can have a reaction by smelling, touching, or being touched by the food.
Please read some MEDICAL. Information, so those myths are not perpetuated. Even the President of the Canadian Allergy & Immunology association does NOT support the practice of banning nuts from classrooms, because of these facts.
It’s called hyper-sensitivity. And whether you choose to believe it or not, I have first hand experience that food allergies can be air-borne. Think dust from nut shells, steam from fish or seafood, etc.
There’s more than one opinion or authority on a particular subject, including medical. So unless you have anaphylaxis and are hyper-sensitive, it’s just that….your opinion.
This is in no way my opinion, or a Doctor’s opinion, just plain medical fact. I have had an anaphylactic reaction to seafood, but in no way can the steam or smell affect me. The ‘hypersensitivity’ is usually a panic type reaction on the part of the allergic individual. The people who deal in facts do not deal in allergic fear mongering, and do not want other people to change their eating habits because of a personal allergy. Teach personal responsibility.
As a mom of a child with a peanut allergy…thank you! Thanks for the ideas for myself and thank you for sharing ideas for other parents to see :)
This is awesome! I’m not allowed to send anything with nuts or seeds. I’m going to show my 8 year old and see what she thinks. :)
great ideas for lunch, love all the variety