School season is baaaaaack!
Whether you’re kids go to school full time, or you’re a homeschooling mom like me, one thing we all have in common is the need for easy school lunches – bonus points if they’re NOT sandwiches.
Especially since, if you’re gluten-free, sandwiches are a little more involved than simply slapping some pb&j on two pieces of bread short of making your own awesome gluten-free sandwich bread.
You all know that I’m a big fan of always keeping our meals (especially lunch) simple, but that is even more true during the school year. There a lot of things vying for your time when you’re spending big chunks of time sitting at a desk with your kids, and lunch doesn’t need to take up any more of that precious time than necessary.
So yep, these ideas work whether you’re carrying them in a lunch box to school, or pulling them straight from your fridge to eat at the kitchen table. Add these to your list of 101 Frugal, Gluten-Free Recipes.
10 Cheap, gluten-free school lunch Ideas
Boiled eggs with ranch dressing dip
My kids don’t like egg salad, but for some reason, they go gaga for hardboiled eggs but into quarters lengthwise (like little spears) that they can dip in ranch dressing. These mix perfectly with vegetable sticks that can also be dipped in ranch – rainbow carrots are my kids’ favorites, but they also like sugar snap peas, and broccoli.
Bean and cheese quesadillas
Just layer some beans and shredded cheese on a corn tortilla, top with a second tortilla, and toast on a griddle. I was surprised the first time my kids suggested these as a packed lunch. I explained that they would be cold, and that the cheese would no longer be melty, but they didn’t care! Turns out, cold quesadillas are pretty good!
Pro tip: Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with a small container of salsa. (this one is a favorite for both of my kids!)
Tuna or egg salad wraps on paleo tortillas
We discovered these low-carb tortillas on our whole 30 adventure earlier this year, and they’re super yum! Super easy to make, and very flexible. I recommend making a batch the evening before, or even making a big batch to have on hand in the freezer!
I used to get so jealous when my classmates in 1st grade would pop open a hot thermos of soup. There are really endless possibilities from black bean chili to vegetable soup or chowder that you can throw in the slow cooker the day before to make an almost effort-free lunch. This one is a particularly easy, filling lunch for kids! You can also send some crackers or homemade cornbread along for those kids who, like my husband, don’t feel satisfied without something solid to go with it.
Tuna with cottage cheese, pickles, and crackers
For a big protein hit, we like to make tuna salad using cottage cheese instead of mayo. Add some crackers, or wrap in a tortilla for carbs, and send along some fruit to wash it down. (this one is my favorite – minus the crackers.)
Baked beans with hamburger
Adding browned, crumbled hamburger to homemade baked beans takes it from side dish, to main dish superstar! Just add a vegetable, and you’re good to go.
These are perfect to make the night before and pack into lunch boxes. You can microwave to heat them up, or eat them cold! You can also use This calzone recipe to make ham and cheese pockets, and many other calzone varieties.
Cubes of cheddar, ham (or other meat), carrot sticks, fruit, and crackers make for a fun, and ridiculously easy lunch for younger kids.
These are so easy, flavorful, and full of great protein. You can make these up to a couple of days ahead of time to lunch easy on yourself! Add some spinach or broccoli to make them almost a complete meal.
Here’s another easy-to-serve lunchbox meal that you can make ahead of time, and even freeze for making grab-and-go lunches. And who doesn’t love pizza?!
These are 10 Cheap, gluten-free school lunch ideas, that you can mix and match, and create endless varieties of to keep school lunches interesting nearly all year long. But always try to keep in mind when you start to feel like your lunches aren’t creative enough that your kids don’t need Pinterest Perfect lunch boxes – they just need nutritious, filling meals to get them through school so they can come home happy and energetic.
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