Lunch is one of my biggest struggles. I’ve always struggled with lunches, but even more so now that we are living dairy and egg free.
Pre-made bread, deli meat, cheese, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, canned stuff…all are off limits!
That WAS true. Here’s what I’ve discovered since first writing this post.
Sara Lee Soft and Smooth bread is “safe” for us. It is, however, processed on a line that also processes other milk products. However, the manager I spoke to said the lines are cleaned stringently AND at least one other milk free product is made on the line before this bread. When in doubt, call and speak to someone knowledgeable. SG is very sensitive and we normally avoid anything that is processed on a line that also processes milk products, but this bread is safe for her. I do rub a piece of bread from each new loaf on her cheek and wait before serving it to her… oh, the things us food allergy mamas will do!!!
Hebrew National Beef Franks are “safe” for us!!! I also called about this and listened to the pre-recorded message about food allergens. (By the way, I was impressed that this option was available. They must get these questions a lot.) Now, I know hot dogs are not the healthiest choice, but ya know what? Our diet is limited and mama needs “easy” sometimes.
Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats are “safe” for us. The kind in the brown boxes. I also called the company about this and was reassured these products are safe for my child. Yay! (Note: Purchasing deli meat in the deli at a grocery store is not recommended. Too much risk of cross contamination.)
Talk about a game changer… We can now have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, deli meat sandwiches (No cheese but we add mustard and hummus and just have the meat- sounds weird but it’s good. If I have it, I add fresh tomato to “healthy it up a bit”.)
Here are more options for lunch I relied on before my recent discovery of the above products:
Uncrustables. I’ve recently discovered that I can make my own “uncrustables.” That has been amazing and a “lunch lifesaver.”
Hummus. I’ve only tried one brand, Sabra, and it is safe for SG. (If you’re a food allergy parent, I’d guess you’re probably like me, in that when you find a safe food and brand, you will only buy that brand. I don’t want to try another brand. Too risky.) Anyway, sometimes she eats hummus with safe crackers (we use Ritz), hummus with raw carrots, and most recently, a turkey, hummus, and Ritz crackers lunch. It’s delicious! The hummus serves as the condiment and I truly didn’t even miss the cheese!!! This will become a staple in our rotation.
Fresh fruit. This is a must. I try my hardest to always have at least one fresh fruit in the house, preferably more. I also have those little plastic pre-packaged bowls of fruit as back ups.
Fruit salad. Cut up fresh fruit mixed together. I don’t know why but it’s so much fun to call it fruit salad rather than fruit. 🙂
Homemade chicken fingers. I found this recipe from Once a Month Mom and tried it. I had to adapt it to be dairy free, but it was good and easy. The changes I made were to purchase coconut greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and I also added some seasonings to the Panko bread crumbs. I sprinkled some salt, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder in with the bread crumbs. I didn’t add enough, though, because the chicken was a bit bland. However, it was SO MOIST! The best part was I only had to pop my homemade chicken fingers in the oven for twenty minutes and had a healthy protein for both of us. Add some french fries, steamed veggies or leftover sides from the night before and you have an easy and healthy lunch. I love easy and healthy. Here’s the link: http://onceamonthmom.com/chicken-stix/
Bagel Pizzas/Pizza. I use this super easy homemade pizza sauce recipe from Once A Month Mom. Click here to see how to make it. I either use a Pillsbury multi-grain pizza crust to make a pizza or make bagel pizzas. Once A Month Mom has inspired me to try making bagel pizzas to add to my repertoire of easy lunches. Click here to read the original recipe. As usual, I always adapt the recipe. I omitted the cheese and sprinkled nutritional yeast on the bagels instead. I also used Hormel Natural Choice deli ham (cut up) and jarred pineapples (cut up). I’m on a big Hawaiian pizza kick right now.
For my regular pizzas, I pre-bake the crust as Pillsbury suggests, spread the pizza sauce, sprinkle nutritional yeast, and add my toppings. I’ve realized I need to add LOTS of toppings to make up for no cheese. We also add salt, pepper, and oregano to our pizzas before baking.
Spaghetti. Spaghetti can be labor intensive, but I have that solved! I try to always keep pre-seasoned and pre-cooked ground beef in my freezer. I keep jars of spaghetti sauce and lots of safe pasta on hand. It makes for a speedy lunch! I just heat the meat with the spaghetti sauce and boil some noodles.
Leftovers. We rarely have this for lunch but occasionally do. Ya can’t beat leftovers! No work. Just re-heating.
Soup. I love to freeze extra soup. I found a great chicken noodle soup on allrecipes.com. It freezes beautifully! I tried my hand at creating my own chicken and rice soup, spanish style, and it was a hit! This also freezes well. When I’m in a pinch, I heat up a Campbell’s tomato soup. The kind in those microwaveable bowls. It’s safe for SG. Here’s the link to our favorite chicken noodle soup: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quick-and-easy-chicken-noodle-soup/
Yogurt. Silk yogurts are yummy and safe for us. SG usually has one as part of her breakfast, but if she hasn’t, I give it to her to round out her lunch. We have also recently starting adding coconut yogurt to our diet. I’ve yet to eat it outright. I use it in recipes, but I know SG would eat it.
Food allergy parents, what do you feed your child for lunch? I’m ALWAYS looking for new ideas and recipes. Please share, my friend!
Disclaimer: Please know that what works for us may not work for your family’s needs. Please be diligent in calling companies and making a decision that works for your family and dietary needs. Also, companies change their ingredients so please ALWAYS read the labels. I am not liable or responsible for any harm caused by my suggestions.