We’re half way through our 30 days of allergy-friendly lunch boxes. Hopefully you’ve seen some ideas that will help you pack easy, nutritious and delicious meals.
You probably have noticed by now that beyond restricting allergic and problem foods, we have also cut out a lot of processed foods. We make choices that are organic when possible, free of dyes, MSG and strange ingredient names. I try to balance their meals with a mix of protein, healthy fats, fruit, veg and a treat keeping it low sugar –this keeps them full through the day and sharp for class with plenty of energy to play hard without any sugar crashes.
Planning ahead is the best way to keep your mornings running smoothly and your lunches easy to pack. I shop on the weekend, clean and chop vegetables ahead when possible and plan some dinners with lunches in mind for the left-overs.
I try to make choices for lunches based on what my kids like. Most young kids are picky eaters, but you might be surprised at all the foods your child actually likes if you write them down. I add new allergy-friendly foods all the time and use this list to plan my week and get ideas when I go shopping.
I encourage the kids to shop with me and pick out their own vegetables, fruits and proteins. I also ask them to help me in the kitchen. With their restricted diets, I feel it’s really important for my kids to learn to cook their own food. As they get older, they will be able to navigate a kitchen and know how to feed themselves.
Here’s my son making his own trail mix for the week.
This is a fun activity – set out dried fruit like apples, strawberries, cranberries, raisins, mango, banana chips and fruit leather, seeds like sunflower or pumpkin, little chocolate chips, jerky and dried coconut. Let your kids make their own mix with the foods they like. My son had fun breaking up the banana chips with a little hammer. Using spoons or little scoops they can fill a large jar with a tight fitting lid and label it as their own. This is great in lunches or they can go to the jar on their own to get a scoop. You can put little dixie cups nearby for serving themselves. Just keep a vacuum nearby, this gets messy — we lost nearly half a bag of chocolate chips to the floor.
The other make-ahead we made last week was fruit leather. This was made from juiced fresh strawberries, vanilla and honey heated up on the stove until thick and jammy, about 10 minutes and poured onto a tray lined with parchment paper. I baked 2 trays at 170 for about 8 hours – this was a bit too much actually, so it was a little tough to chew, but the kids still liked it. Cut into strips and rolled in parchment, this makes a cheap and easy snack as well. Comparable organic fruit leather in the store costs about $.65 each, we made about 30 of these from about 1/2 a flat of strawberries purchased for $5, that’s a big savings. Look around for cheap fruit, especially right now as it is so abundant at farmers’ markets and fruit stands this time of year.
Here’s a round up of last week’s lunches for both of my kids – there is a larger lunch and a smaller one for my son who only attends half days.
Kinder snack: Smoked turkey, fruit and veg – those are purple carrots picked out by my daughter at the fruit stand.
Smoked turkey, fruit, veg, strawberry gummies – she insisted on the cauliflower, then decided she liked it better cooked. Maybe a quick blanch and a dip will help next time.
Kinder snack: dried mango, carrots, cukes, salami
Above: Dried mango, strawberry gummies, carrots, melon in a leak-proof container, salmon salad in a cucumber boat. I make my salmon salad with a bit of full-fat coconut milk instead of mayo and some fermented pickle kraut. I haven’t found a mayo on the market that is free of soy, canola oil and egg and this works surprisingly well. I wrapped each “boat” in parchment to keep them separate and help absorb any juice.
Wednesday’s lunch was cucumbers, chicken apple sausage, blueberries, clementines, strawberry gummies, carrots and a little container of our homemade dried strawberries.
Wednesday’s kinder lunch is bigger than normal because they have a bit longer day: Fruit, chicken apple sausage, gummies and his own trail mix in an airtight container. I’ll snap off the end of a plastic fork so it fits in the lunch box.
Kinder snack above is all my son’s favorites.
This lunch as some left-over pork tenderloin from dinner the night before. This turned out really good. I baked it with some fig jam, orange juice and apples.
Until next time, Lisa