You may have to say farewell to PB&J's, but you don't have to lose your sanity.
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

It's becoming more and more common for schools to have a nut-free policy to protect students and staff who may suffer from severe allergies. If you grew up with a PB&J sandwich as your go-to packed lunch, you may be left scratching your head about packing nut-free options for picky eaters. We've rounded up a collection of tips for making planning easier and a small list of our favorite nut-free lunch ideas to make the processor simpler. 

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

Opt for Other Butters

Nuts aren't the only foods that can be turned into a delightfully thick and creamy spread. Options like sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter are great replacers for peanut butter in a sandwich or dip. 

Get Creative with Crunch

Anywhere you'd add nuts to a crunchy topping, like on a hearty salad or sprinkled over a comforting bowl of curry, replace it with an equally crispy option like roasted chickpeas, sunflower seeds, or lightly crushed pretzels. Just make sure to opt for low-sodium versions of these products or recipes to avoid serving a salt-heavy lunch. 

Double-Check Ingredient Labels

Nuts can sneak into some products without being an obvious ingredient, so always be sure to read through the label before packing something for lunch at school. Some items to really keep an eye on are gluten-free snacks (which often contain nut-based flours), fried foods (that may be cooked in peanut oil), or sauces (mole, pesto, and other favorites are sometimes prepared using nuts). 

Nut-Free Lunch Ideas

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Mini Mozzarella-and-Kale Pita Pizzas

We split the pitas in half before toasting so that the “crust” for the pizzas can get extra crisp. Baby kale is a fantastic all-purpose green: hearty yet tender, delicious fresh or sautéed. It’s a great introduction to greens other than lettuce or spinach.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Zucchini and Bean Burritos

The bean mixture acts as a barrier between the tortilla and the zucchini, so the burritos stay crisp.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Homemade Chicken Fingers

Sorry drive-through: This version of the kid favorite is better than yours.

Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio

Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wraps

Fresh, flavorful, veggie-packed, and ready in a 10-minute snap—now that’s a meal we can stand behind! Hummus delivers a winning combo of protein and healthy fat for staying power, while fresh bell peppers and spinach provide a satisfying crunch.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Tomato-Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

This grilled cheese and tomato soup dynamic duo just got a major upgrade from the shelf-stable stuff. Enjoy a classic, creamy favorite in just 30-minutes. Pack the soup in a thermos and the croutons in a separate bag to ensure they don't get soggy before lunch time.