In Need of Nut Free Lunch Ideas for School Lunch or Daycare?

nut free lunch ideas for back to school


Whether your kiddo has a nut allergy or goes to a nut-free school, that doesn’t mean lunch has to be a struggle. We’ve rounded up our favorite nut free lunch ideas because there’s got to be more to choose from than classic PB&Js and uncrustables! (Though you can always fall back on Wowbutter for a real PB taste without the allergen!)

How to Build a Balanced Meal

In order to feel full, satisfied, and energized, our bodies need a combination of carbs, protein, and fat! It’s easy to lean heavily on carbs when packing a lunch box. Carbs are definitely needed to give us energy, but we need protein and fat to help us stay satiated. Incorporate several different items to get a variety of nutrients as well as different tastes and textures! Don’t forget the fun food!

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Nut Free Lunch Mains:

Kid Friendly Lunch Box Ideas

  • Nut-free pesto on pasta (did you know you can use breadcrumbs instead of pine nuts?)
  • Black bean burger patty
  • Falafel
  • Cold pizza on naan/English muffin/flatbread/etc
  • Sandwich with deli meat, seed butter and jelly, or BLT
  • Pinwheel wrap with turkey, cucumber, and cream cheese
  • Pita filled with chicken salad or egg salad
  • Refried bean quesadilla
  • Tomato or butternut squash soup in thermos with grilled cheese dippers
  • Greek pasta salad
  • Taco dip cup with chips
  • Egg muffins
  • Chicken nuggets or veggie chicken nuggets
  • Pancakes or waffles* (could also make a sandwich with cream cheese or seed butter)
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Crackers + sliced cheese + ham
  • Caprese skewers (use a colorful straw* as a safer alternative to a pointy skewer)
  • Mac and cheese* bites (use leftover mac and cheese, mix with an egg, and bake in a muffin tin)

Nut Free Lunch Sides:

chocolate kodiak protein muffins

  • Roasted veggies
  • Raw veggies with dip
  • Fruit
  • Cheese stick
  • Chomps meat stick (if age appropriate)
  • Yogurt tube
  • Crackers or chips
  • Hardboiled egg
  • Granola bar or cereal bar
  • Pretzels
  • Cereal
  • Muffin or a slice of quick bread
  • Puffs like Pirates Booty or Hippeas*
  • Trail mix made with seeds and dried or freeze dried fruit
  • Energy bites (use any energy bite recipe, and replace any nut butter with pumpkin seed butter or wow butter)
  • Fun food – cookie, piece of nut-free candy

A Note on Packing:

Food should only be out at room temperature (according to the FDA) for 2 hours. If a food is supposed to be cold, make sure to pack it with cold packs!
If your kiddo prefers their food to be warm, you could fill a good quality thermos with boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes. Dump out the water then fill with the food while it is still hot.
Bentgo* and Yumbox* have some good lunchbox options. I also like to use silicone cupcake liners* for additional dividers.
thermos nut free school lunch

For the Less Adventurous Eaters:

If your child struggles to accept new foods, are selective, or get tired of the same packed foods, you are not alone!

Try offering foods in different ways for a little variety. Use little “cookie” cutters* to change the shapes of the fruits or veggies.


Provide fun utensils to incentivize interacting with the food like toothpicks* and googly eyes*.


Get a little fancy with your sandwiches and turn them into homemade uncrustables! No fancy gadget* needed (though it can be fun to use). Just cut out the circles, fill with anything, and then seal by crimping with a fork.


Packing school lunch can feel like quite the task. It doesn’t need to be pretty. It doesn’t need to be Pinterest or TikTok worthy. It should have foods that are easy to eat, mostly foods that you know are safe and accepted by your kid, and aim for a balance of protein, carb, fat, and fun! 

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.