Even though I’m a pro at the allergy mom life, I felt a moment of panic when I learned at preschool orientation that the school was nut free.
I’m no newbie to the custom-eating allergy-friendly world. I’ve been gluten free for years. My family has been eating mostly dairy free for nearly four years for our youngest daughter. She has a dairy intolerance and suspected leaky gut.
I feel like at this point, I’m a pro at creative substitutions to make allergy friendly lunches.
And then my dairy-free preschooler starting attending a nut-free school.
That meant no almond milk. No almond milk yogurt. No more almond cheese! What could I send with my kid for a nut free lunch?
I figured if even I started madly googling for “nut free lunch box ideas” and scouring the aisles at our grocery store, there were probably other people (seasoned allergy parents or not) who may need some resources if their dairy free kids go to a nut free school.
So many of our go-to dairy substitutes had nuts, in them before, so we had to change the way we shopped for groceries so that I don’t accidentally send her to school with something that has nuts in it.
Now we are nut-free lunch packing pros!
Now we are lunch-packing pros. We even have some allergy-friendly lunch boxes that fold flat into a placemat and are machine washable. Yep. Every week I can throw the entire lunchbox in the washer. They are also insulated, and super easy to use. That way I never have to worry about what was on the table before my kids sit down.
I use coconut milk or flax milk for all of our baking, and for my daughter’s morning cereal so that if I make muffins, I can send them in my daughter’s nut free lunches.
Keep reading below for some of my favorite allergy friendly lunch ideas and products. You can also check out all of the lunch recipes I’ve ever posted.
After a year in a nut-free preschool, I gathered all of our favorite nut free school lunch ideas and put them in one easy list for you. I have a few nut free lunch recipes as well as lots of our favorite products that we almost always have on hand.
A note on Soy-Free Nut-Free lunches
As a personal preference, I try to avoid too many dairy free subs that are soy based. We get so much soy in our diets, I don’t want to add too it with a bunch of soy based milks and yogurts. Soy can mess with estrogen levels, and as a mom of two little girls I just try to limit it so we don’t have way too much. We still enjoy plenty of soy-based products. I just don’t want to rely on soy for all of our milk substitutes.
There are some products listed that are soy based. I tried to mark when they were made with soy. (I did not read labels in-depth for a soy allergy, I was looking for things that were mainly soy, like soy yogurt and soy milk.)
Many of the products and recipes listed below are soy-free, all except one are dairy-free (one brand of nut-free bars that I love so much, I had to mention) and all of them are gluten-free.
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Nut-Free Sandwich Ideas
This is an easy one! I've worked with Sunbutter in the past, and my family loves Sunbutter. Wherever we would use a peanut butter sandwich, we use SunButter. We also really like Don't Go Nuts Soybutter.
Homemade Gluten Free Uncrustables
I've been making these since my kids started kindergarten! My friend Amanda just put together a video showing just how easy it is.
Before school started, I prepped a bunch of Sunbutter and Jelly sandwiches to keep in the freezer. Since my daughter is only dairy free, and not gluten free, I purchased a loaf of wheat bread and made a bunch of uncrustables by spreading Sunbutter and jelly in the center and cutting it out with an upside down cup OR the lid of the Sunbutter container(or you can use an uncrustables cutter, like what Amanda used.).
I labeled each sandwich "Sunbutter" so her school doesn't toss them and keep them in the freezer. When I'm packing lunch in a rush, I just pull one out and add a nut free granola
Here are our favorite peanut-free spreads, we use them everywhere you use peanut butter.
Don't Go Nuts Roasted Soybean Spread,
Don't Go Nuts' soybean spread come in lots of yummy flavors! And, they are dairy free! If you are looking for a dairy free Nutella alternative, their Chocolate Spread may be what you are looking for.
You can buy a Variety 4 pack on Amazon that includes Simply Cinnamon, Chocolate, Slightly Sweet and Sea Salted.
They do contain soy, obviously.
Dairy-Free Nut-Free Granola Bars
This is one area where the nut free options are not lacking! Also, many of our favorite bars are available online. I've even got an easy 4 ingredient homemade Sunbutter Granola Bar recipe for you!
FreeYumm Allergen Free Granola Bars
All of FreeYumm's Bars and Cookies are dairy free and nut-free. They are also made with purity-protocol gluten free oats. They've been a lunch box staple for our family the past year!
We love their cookies too. They are similar to the bars, just round like cookies and they don't have honey in them, which makes them vegan.
Enjoy Life Grain & Seed Bars
My family loves Enjoy Life Food's Grain and Seed Bars. There is a Variety pack with all four flavors on Amazon, or you can buy flavors individually.
Enjoy Life was the allergy-friendly pioneer and they have tons of great products.
Enjoy Life Chewy Bars
These are the OG. The Grain & Seed bars were added in the past few year, but these chewy bars have been around much longer. You can purchase a variety pack with 3 flavors (Sunseed Crunch, Caramel Apple, and Cocoa Loco) on Amazon but there are 6 flavors in all. Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed and Caramel Blondie are my fave! I also really love Carrot Cake, all it is missing is some dairy free cream cheese frosting.
MadeGood Granola Bars/Minis
MadeGood Granola Bars and mini bites are a hug hit with the kids, and with me. They have hidden veggies in them! Shhh....don't tell my kids.
You can get a Variety Pack with 7 boxes on Amazon, and they have more products too. We really love their Rice Cereal Treats.
MadeGood is certified gluten-free, but I don't think they are made with purity protocol oats anymore.
Don't Go Nuts Nut-Free Organic Snack Bars
Don't go nuts are all nut-free and gluten free, but they aren't dairy free. I thought they were still worth mentioning, but just remember they won't work if you are 100% dairy free. I send these to school with my daughter who can have dairy.
Dairy-Free Nut-Free Milk
No kid wants to feel left out! I don't pack these dairy-free nut-free milks every day, they make a really special treat. I also have the school keep some on hand so that on days when they have milk with snack, my daughter isn't left out.
Dairy-Free Nut-Free Snacks
I've already mentioned some bars we like, but here are some of our favorite non-bar snacks that are nut-free.
We like to make nut free energy bites at home with Sunbutter, vital proteins collagen, gluten free oats (purity protocol), honey, and chia seeds. I'm working on perfecting our recipe to share with you!
Nut-Free Dairy-Free Yogurt
Before going to a nut-free school, my daughter ate a lot of almond milk. We avoid soy when we can, so that meant we were limited in which dairy free yogurts we could have, since most are nut or soy based.
So Delicious Coconut Dairy Free Yogurt Alternatives
So Delicious' Coconut Milk is usually the easiest for us to find, and my daughter loves it.
Dairy-Free Nut-Free Cheese Substitutes
Nut-Free Dairy-Free cheese was really hard for us at first. Some brands have almonds in them.
Over the years, we've tried many cheeses and these are the ones that are most readily available, and that we love and buy every week.
Vegan Cheese | Follow Your Heart®
Follow Your Heart is our very favorite dairy free cheese. It melts really well, and the flavor is pretty good. We usually have a package of American or Provolone Singles, and a bag of shreds we use for quesadillas for lunches.
Plant-Based Deluxe Cheeze Sticks | Daiya Foods, Deliciously Dairy Free
Daiya is one of the most recognizable dairy free brands, and many of their products are pantry staples for us.
Not only do they have shreds and slices, Daiya also makes small blocks or wedges, and now cheese sticks! We bought these to keep on hand at my daughter's school so that when they have cheese sticks for snack, she can eat something similar to her friends that is safe for her.