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11 Nut-Free School Lunch Ideas That Are Just as Easy as PB&J

Classroom- and kid-friendly recipes for the school year

nut-free-school-lunch-ideas_carrot-pigs-in-a-blanket_liz-andrew_14
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

Back-to-school season is here, which means we’re all back to planning pint-sized, packable lunches that picky children will actually eat…cold. And no, that peanut butter and jelly you got used to slapping together all summer long is not in the cards (i.e., not allergy-friendly and classroom-safe). Fear not, we have some winning, nut-free school lunch ideas that your kid will be more than happy to eat on repeat and aren’t a huge hassle to make. Read on and watch as your kid sends their lunch box home miraculously empty. (Maybe.)

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Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches nut free school lunch
LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

1. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, no cook 

These tidy little pinwheels are so loaded with deli counter favorites (think: mild provolone and a meat of your kid’s choosing) that they won’t even notice you snuck in a little kale. 

BLT Pasta Salad nut free school lunch
LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

2. BLT Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, make ahead 

The only thing better than a BLT is a packed lunch that boasts all the same mouthwatering ingredients without the soggy sandwich bread. 

Ranch Potato Salad
PHOTO/STYLING: KATHERINE GILLEN

3. Ranch Potato Salad

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, vegetarian, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser 

Potatoes combine with every kid’s favorite veggie dip in this simple twist on a picnic staple. Make a big batch on Sunday and pair it with sammies all week long. 

Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

4. Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <30 minutes, vegetarian 

Fresh herbs, capers, green onions and a dash of dijon provide plenty of palate-pleasing flavor, whilst a creamy and dreamy avocado-yogurt combo significantly cuts down the mayo content in this exciting take on a classic egg salad. The end result will fill you up without weighing you down (even when sandwiched between two hearty slices of bread). 

Charcuterie Board Flatbread nut free school lunch
PHOTO/STYLING: KATHERINE GILLEN

5. Charcuterie Board Flatbread

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, no cook, special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients 

It looks and tastes like something you’d pay good money for at your neighborhood’s fanciest cafe, but the whole thing takes a mere five minutes to assemble and can be customized to feature any kid’s charcuterie board favorites. In other words, even the pickiest member of your brood can look classy at lunchtime. 

nut-free-lunch-ideas-mozzarella-meatball-frittata-recipe
SECRETS OF GREAT SECOND MEALS

6.  Mozzarella Meatball Frittata

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, low carb, keto-friendly, high protein

Your spaghetti night leftovers deserve a second life. Feel free to drizzle each slice with tomato sauce and don’t skimp on the cheese.

Everything Bagel-Crusted Chicken Tenders nut free school lunch
PHOTO: CAROLINE DORN/STYLING: KATIE WAYNE

7. Everything Bagel-Crusted Chicken Tenders

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, high protein, kid-friendly 

The everything bagel seasoning craze is still going strong. Cook up these flavor-packed tenders for a high-protein lunch that’s tasty enough to enjoy cold and you’ll be on board with it, too. 

Mini Quesadillas
LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

8. Mini Quesadillas

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser 

Wonton wrappers are the brilliant hack behind these bite-sized and oh-so cheesy quesadillas, which get an extra nutrient and protein boost from canned refried black beans. (Yep, you don’t even have to do the refrying yourself.) 

Slow Cooker Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls
LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

9. Slow Cooker Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls

  • Time Commitment: 7 hours 15 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: slow cooker recipe, make ahead, high protein 

Another Mexican-inspired recipe—this deconstructed burrito, featuring all the favorite fillings and a tangy crema topping, is a make-ahead home run that’s basically begging to be in the lunch box rotation. (Just leave out the cilantro and go easy on the lettuce if your kid turns green at the sight of anything green.)

nut-free-lunch-ideas-lunch-kebabs
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

10. Lunch Kebabs with Mortadella, Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

Because what kid doesn’t want to eat lunch off a stick? This recipe calls for sweet sun-dried tomatoes, soft mortadella and salty olives but you can basically mix and match any ingredients you like (cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and sliced turkey would work nicely).

Carrot Pigs in a Blanket
PHOTO: LIZ ANDREW/STYLING: ERIN MCDOWELL

11. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes 
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian 

No, you don’t need to put an actual pig in that salty, soft pretzel dough blanket. It turns out you can tuck damn near anything in there—including the roasted carrots your kid snubbed at dinner time—and lunch will be a success. 


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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...