Kid-Tested Lunch Box Ideas for Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Special Diets

lunchboxesBeing the mother of an elementary school child, I have been experimenting for a couple years on what’s best to put in my daughter’s lunch box that his healthy and delicious. One of the challenges of school lunch is that we parents are not there to supervise and make sure/encourage they eat all of their lunch.  Many of you know it can be tricky. They will eat the same meal at home but then when they are at school the might not. On the other hand, if we give them the foods they love that are not as healthy “just to get them to eat” they avoid all of the healthy stuff and only eat the junk.

For example, if I feed my daughter a sandwich sometimes she will eat just the bread and not the meat/protein. If I put crackers or a sweet treat, she may eat them but not the vegetable and protein. There are a couple ways we handle this, most often I do not make a sandwich (unless it’s a tuna or salmon salad sandwich which she tends to love and eat the protein). I also avoid including the treats, which requires her to eat the healthy choices available. If I do include a treat, I tell her she needs to eat the meat and vegetable or I won’t serve the treat on the next special occasion. This combination of nutrition and parenting techniques works well for her.

What I do most often choose from several categories of food (protein, vegetable, fruit) and put a Paleo style lunch together.  This way we avoid the bread, starches, and sugars and focus on the healthy food.

Here is my list. Soon (in the next few weeks) I will be sharing a downloadable handout:


Lunch meat
Chicken leg
Chicken pancake
Chicken salad
Salmon chunks or salmon salad
Bean Burgers
Epic Meat Bar
Beans and rice
Sandwich with gluten/grain-free bread or wrap


Cherry tomatoes
Kale chips
Peas (frozen or fresh)
Kale salad with raisins
Carrot sticks or slices
Celery sticks
Red pepper slices
Cucumber slices
Frozen carrots, peas, and corn
Nori seaweed
Cauliflower tortilla (for sandwich wrap)
Apple kraut


Pineapple chunks
Small banana
Date pieces
Freeze dried fruit
Dried fruit
Dried mango
Fruit leather
Gelatin gummies
Date balls
Apple sauce (pear or mango sauce)


Freeze dried peas
Sweet potato chips
Carrot chips
Rice cubes
Cold gluten-free pasta salad
Chickpea roasted snack
Quinoa cakes
Non-dairy yogurt squeeze packs (Ruby Rockets)



Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 17 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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