Originally posted on Gluten Free UAE in November 2012
The first few weeks of being a gluten free family can be very daunting, especially when it comes to making lunch boxes for kids, even more so if you are used to sending sandwiches every day. It can take some time to get used to gluten free bread, and a gluten free bread slice often doesn’t do so well in a lunch box because of crumbling. After a year and a half of being gluten free I am sure I am close to being an expert now. It has become almost a ‘sport’ to see how many days I can go without sending bread! My older child used to be nightmare when it came to eating at school, we have used every trick in the book to get him to eat.
- Forget bread. Don’t miss it, don’t think about it. You don’t need bread for a lunchbox. If the lunch is appealing enough, your kids wont even ask for bread.
- Decide in advance how many foods you are sending and what they should be. By having ‘rules’, making the lunch will be faster and easier, as you are always following the same ‘rules’. I send 4-5 foods for my older child, and 3-4 for my younger. Each child has a vegetable or fruit food, a ‘main’ food, a dairy food, and a snack.
- Sending one big portion of something often means it goes uneaten. Smaller portions are less daunting for a fussy child, and usually there will be less waste. If your child doesn’t eat, send less foods (less choice) for a week and you may be surprised.
- Let your child choose within the food rules that you have set. ‘Do you want yogurt or cheese sticks today?’, ‘Do you want pasta or pancakes today?’, ‘Cucumber with hummus or an apple?’ etc.
- Prepare some foods in advance. While I always do the fruits and most veggies fresh on the day, many of the ‘main foods’ can be prepared in advance and kept for a few days in storage containers in the fridge.
- Experiment! Don’t be afraid to try new crazy things, get the kids involved too. Very often the crazy stuff is what works.
- Become best friends with your muffin tin. Really. Im serious. Its amazing what you can do in it, and its just the right size for a child! Try Spanish Omelette, baked eggs, pancakes, quinoa bakes, pasta bakes, crustless quiche etc etc.
- Try to stay away from pre packaged gluten free stuff, more often then not its not very nutritious, and it probably cost more then dinner in a fancy restaurant too! Make things yourself if you can, or use mainstream products that are naturally gluten free.
- Don’t give the same food every day, even if your child requests it. The last thing you want is for your child to stop eating the one thing he always eats! Its also not very good from a nutritional stand point. A varied diet is usually better (unless you have managed to get your kid to eat a superfood of some kind).
- Keep an emergency (non perishable) lunch box with the teacher! You don’t want your child to go without food if his lunch box becomes contaminated, dropped on the floor etc. Our emergency box has 2 muesli bars, some raisins and gluten free crackers. It’s sealed shut, with my child’s name and gluten free stickers all over. Its kept with the teacher and I check the box regularly to see if it needs updating.
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