As a parent of a child with a food allergy it can be very scary sending them back to school. You have to hope that they will not be fed anything or become exposed to the allergen. Hopefully I can give you some tips to help you survive packing school lunches with food allergies!
My oldest has a Tree nut allergy and learning how to adjust to reading all labels all the time was a huge undertaking. One of the major adjustments that had to be made for us was that the school district he was in could NOT guarantee us that the food served at lunch did not have tree nuts or was not made on equipment that processed the tree nuts. This left us with only having the option to pack a lunch everyday!You can only eat a ham and cheese sandwich for so many days before you completely get tired of them so I had to become creative and come up with more options for him to eat everyday.
I have come up with a list of ways that you can make lunch time more fun if you are having to pack for a food allergy!
- Make Sandwiches Fun. Instead of packing the same old sandwich everyday I started taking special bread cutters or cookie cutters and cutting the sandwiches into different shapes. It was still a sandwich but he loved seeing what shape it would be in everyday.
- Think outside the box for meals. I purchased a thermos so that we could pack “hot” lunches too. This was huge because he was then able to have things like Mac-n-Cheese, Soups, Pastas, etc. and it would still be warm by lunch just as if he had purchased a lunch from the school. I would get a lunch menu and try and match what the school was serving but use our own recipes and ingredients so that he could eat the same thing as all his friends but it would be completely safe. I would also buy crackers, cheese, and lunch meats to make homemade lunchables.
- Make the lunch appealing. How you organize and place the food in the lunchbox makes a huge difference on if the kids will eat or not. I like to do things like cut the veggies or fruits in different shapes and doing things like making a smiley face with the jelly on the sandwich also makes lunch more fun for the kids.
- Find Products that are Safe. Be sure to look for products that are Allergy Friendly. They are out there! I Promise! ! SkinnyPop has gluten-free popcorn that is a great snack for kid’s lunches! I spent several years finding products that my child could pack for their lunches or even for a quick snack that did not have the major allergens in them and did not taste like cardboard! 🙂
The most important thing to help your child out that is facing a food allergy is just to be creative and use your imagination on how to make lunch more fun! What do you do to make lunch more fun for your child? I would love to hear from you!!