Paleo Kids Lunch Box Ideas (Nut Free)

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Kids need good fuel to get them through the day. That means their school lunches should be made up of real fresh foods that are nutrient dense, rich in protein and healthy fats, and low in processed sugar for even energy levels throughout the day and better focus during class.

Every year when the school year starts, moms and dads face the daily challenge of coming up with varied, balanced and quick lunch box meals for their little ones. This can be particularly hard for parents trying to feed their kids a diet free of processed foods, grains, gluten or dairy. Whatever your choice of eating, things can get tricky if you’re not prepared! To help things out, we’ve gathered a few of our favourite healthy whole food lunches to get you inspired.

All recipes are paleo/primal, gluten free, and nut free to make sure that kids can bring them to school. We know that for many parents school mornings are busy – so we’ve got some ideas for foods you can prepare in advance to make getting out the door in the mornings faster. We’ve also chosen foods that are easy to pack and will travel well.

Healthy lunch box basics

The Healthy Kids Association of Australia (HKA) has a great guide to packing a healthy lunch box. It recommends sticking to the “Core 4 + 1” when packing a balanced lunch box.

Core 4:
1.      Main lunch item
2.      Nutritious snack
3.      A piece of fresh seasonal fruit
4.      Drink – always include a water bottle
Plus 1:
1.      Optional – add an extra snack for active and fast growing kids

While the HKA advocate including grains and dairy,  for those following a paleo diet this might mean protein, healthy fats and vegetables – the basic principle of the Core 4 + 1 is a good starting point when making your child’s lunch, just adjust the foods to meet your diet.

Which lunch box?

Before we get into the foods, let’s talk lunch boxes. We try to avoid storing food in plastic containers and instead opt for glass at home, or at least pick BPA-free options. But it’s not very practical to send your little one off to school with a heavy glass container. A stainless steel lunch box is the perfect solution – they are lightweight, unbreakable and don’t leach chemicals like plastic.

To keep foods cool, pack the lunch box in an insulated lunch bag along with an ice pack. To keep hot foods like soups or stews warm, use an insulated thermal container. LunchBots and PlanetBox have a great range of stainless steel lunch boxes, including bento style and insulated containers in all shapes and sizes, water bottles, and lunch bags. In Australia, check out Shop Naturally website for sustainable lunch box options. Lunch Bots has an international resellers list as well. It’s also a good idea to have a few little containers to pack things like sauces, dips and foods that need to be kept separate.

MAIN LUNCH ITEMS

Meal in a muffin

A muffin shaped meal made of any combination of veggies and protein (like meat, fish or egg) is a perfect sandwich replacement for the lunch box. They transport well and taste good cold. You can prepare a big batch at the start of the week to save time in the mornings. They will keep in the fridge for a few days, and some you can even freeze. The combinations really are endless, but here are some recipes we think your kids will love:

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• Egg muffins from Show Me The Yummy
• Spicy tuna cakes from Nom Nom Paleo (adjust the spice depending on your child’s preference)
• Meat muffins from The Healthy Foodie
• Meat loaf muffins from Paleo Comfort Foods as featured on Nom Nom Paleo

Meatballs, burgers and meatloaf slices

A serve of meaty goodness combined with some cherry tomatoes and celery sticks make a great main lunch item. You can make a large batch of your child’s favourite and keep in the freezer ready to pop in their lunch box in the morning. A tasty, high protein, budget friendly and quick option. For some inspiration check out these 20 Awesome Paleo Burger Recipes, 10 Mouthwatering Paleo Meatball Recipes, and these 40 Paleo Meatloaf Recipes.

Good old nourishing eggs

Hard boiled eggs are perfectly portable making them a great option for taking to school. Combined with some veggies, lettuce wraps, or a small salad, eggs make a perfect meal full of protein, fats, and nutrients for busy kids. A batch of hard boiled eggs will keep in the fridge for up to one week – another time saver on school mornings. And then of course, you can make devilled eggs – check out my three ways to make tasty devilled eggs here – or mayo curried egg salad in small cupcake casings.

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For something a little more elaborate, check out my caramelised onion and carrot omelette roll up, which I think kids will love, or do it in reverse and wrap some egg omelette pancakes inside turkey or ham slices.

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Paleo sandwiches

Bake a loaf of grain free, nut free bread and keep it pre-sliced in the freezer so you can grab a serve when you need it. My Jalapeno Coconut Bread is a great option because it is totally nut free. It’s not too spicy but if your little one isn’t into the spice from the jalapeños, you can leave them out or replace them with some additional grated veggies or green olives. For more paleo bread ideas see our list of The Best Paleo Bread Recipes, which includes some nut free recipes.

Other main meal ideas

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NUTRITIOUS SNACKS

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Want more inspiration?
If you need more inspiration for Paleo and Primal lunch box ideas check out these awesome sites and Instagram accounts:

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We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions! Leave a comment or head on over to EDP Facebook page.

 

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    I never comment on these sorts of things but I just have to say, wow! This post is amazing with so many great ideas. My daughter is starting daycare in a month and I need to come up with portable ( and nut free) ideas. I feel like I don’t need to do too much more research after finding this list! Thank you for being so generous with your time and creativity. (I’m especially diggin’ the egg roll idea!)

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