Lunch time is a busy time in this household and a well-loved meal time for my kids. I was worried when they started school that they would stop loving lunch as much as they did because making a hot lunch would be more challenging. Not only that, but I worried that gluten-free lunches would not keep well in their lunch boxes or be fast enough for me to make in the mornings or during the day at home when I am doing a million things at once. Their taste is changing and I want them to love food — to look forward to it — and to make it different when it goes into their lunch box for school.
I don’t want lunch prep to take forever and having three kids to make something for, I want it something universally loved or at least tolerated once a week and relatively healthy — relatively because sometimes a kid wants a hot dog and that’s okay.
If you’re on the hunt for some quick (like 15-20 minutes quick) lunches that are gluten-free here are some great picks:
1. Pepperoni & Crackers
If you have a particularly picky eater — this one could be a top choice. It’s quick and easy to make and if you’re child is a fan of pizza sauce or cheese, they would work well for mini cold pizzas.
The favourite cracker? Sea Salt crackers from Glutino
Who says you can only have pancakes for breakfast? They’re quick to make from scratch, but I prefer a no-go-wrong batter that I can whip up in no time. Paired with fruit and maybe some yogurt, this is a great lunch option as well.
The favourite pancake mix? Kinnikinnick Pancake and Waffle Mix
3. Pizza Hearts
Kids love pizza and they are even more appealing to kids when they’re cut into shapes.Not necessary, but it always makes their lunch extra fun. I’ve found using frozen gluten-free pizza crusts, you cut back on time and you can use cookie cutters to cut the shapes (my kids love when they’re in hearts).
The favourite frozen pizza crust? Udi Pizza Crust
4. Ham Rolls
If you don’t care for gluten-free bread, find it to be too expensive for everyday lunch, or just want a change, ham rollups are perfect. You can rollup different things like cream cheese, mustard, lettuce, or other veggies to make bread-free sandwiches.
You can’t go wrong with a quesadilla! You can make it healthier by putting in lots of small chopped veggies or you can keep it simple with refried beans and some cheese. Either way, it’s a quick lunch that will go great with some fruit or veggies on the side and can be put into your kids’ lunch boxes as well.
The favourite quesadilla wrap? Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas
6. Hot Dogs
Like I said, sometimes a kid just wants a hot dog and that’s okay! You have to make sure the hot dog you’re feeding your gluten-free child is gluten-free, but there are some great options out there now. Paired with a bun or without, hot dogs are fast to prepare and as long as you’re eating them on occasion, but with some fresh vegetables (a salad!), it’s a great lunch choice.
The favourite hot dog? Maple Leaf Food’s Natural Selections Pork Hot Dog
The favourite hot dog bun? Udi Gluten-Free Hot Dog Buns
7. Cucumber sandwiches
Who says you need bread or crackers for sandwiches? Sliced cucumbers work great as a substitute for crackers and they can be topped with all sorts of things. Stay vegan and use hummus and some sliced red peppers or go dairy with cucumber slices topped with herb and garlic cream cheese. They’re light, but surprisingly filling.
8. Fun-shaped Sandwiches
It’s funny how much a fun shape takes your kid’s boring peanut butter (or peanut substitution) sandwich to the next level. Kids can’t seem to get enough of the fun new looks and with so many cookie and sandwich cutters available, you’re set with endless possibilities.
The favourite nut-free peanut butter substitution? WOWButter Creamy
9. Vegetable Omelet
Eggs pack a punch that keeps you full, gives you energy, and the big bonus: they take only minutes to cook. An omelet allows you to customize how many eggs are in the meal plus you can add things in like cheese, onion, mushroom, and peppers.
10. Fish Sticks
While making your own fish sticks isn’t too difficult, sometimes the fast convenience of frozen breaded fish sticks is what you need to make sure your kids are fed and you’re kept sane. Pair them with some fresh vegetables and you’ve got a healthy, filling lunch there for your kids.
The favorite frozen fish sticks? Ian’s Fish Sticks
Photo credit: adapted from Brandon Grasley | Flickr