When you are on the go with a kid with food allergies you have to plan and prepare.My daughter Kai is allergic to all of the Top 8: Eggs, Peanuts/ Treenuts, Wheat, Soy, Fish/ Shellfish, Diary.
If were going to be away from home any longer than 2-3 hours I always pack a lunch and snacks for Kai. It really saves me from being in a situation where we are gone for too long and my child does not have food that is safe to eat. It also saves me money because we always bring our own snacks. So if you are simply looking for a way to save $$$ It’s a Win, Win!
I know packing meals everyday sounds like a lot but I have a few tips to make it super simple for you!
Tip #1 : The Preparation
The length of our trip and where we are going, determines the type of food I pack. For example, if we are just running errands that will run into her lunch time I will only pack a snack or a lunch. If our destination is a family member’s house and we will be there a couple of hours then I will usually pack two meals. If it is a long or over trip and I know there will be an accessible microwave I will pack a sandwich (for lunch) along with a more filling dinner option such as chicken wings, chicken legs, meatballs, etc. If we are leaving early morning and returning in the evening I will pack breakfast for the car and lunch along with lots of snacks. I try my best to wake up before Kai, dress myself first, then I prep her food.
Tip #2: The Lunchbox
You need the right lunchbox. I prefer a lunchbox with a strap for convenient carrying. I also like a bag that has an outside pocket to hold my daughter’s water bottle. We use this Samsonite lunchbox, I found at TJ Maxx for $12.99. I love it! It is spacious and keeps things cold with a freezer pack for 8-10 hours. My daughter drinks rice milk that I usually store in these Dr. Brown Bottles because they have a screw on lid and they fit perfectly in this lunchbox and remain very cold. This lunchbox also has a front pocket that I like to use to store my daughters food items that I prefer to kept at room temperature such as her Sun Butter Sandwiches.
Tip #3: The Food
Easy Finger Foods that do not require reheating are always a GO-TO for us. I love a balanced meal so I always pack a Protein, Whole Grain or Starch, Fruit, and a Fun Snack. Below are a few that we use weekly.
Breakfast Protein: Bacon, Sausage, Pancakes, Sun Butter and Banana Toast, Avocado Toast
Lunch/Dinner Protein: Black Beans, Sun Butter Sandwich, Avocado Toast, Turkey Avocado Sandwich, Homemade Chicken Tenders
Whole Grain or Starch: Homemade French Fries, Baby Gold Potatoes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Rice Cakes, Ener-G gluten- free Brown Rice Loaf
Fruit/Veggies: Avocado, Bananas, Grapes, Strawberries, Blueberries, Pears, Pineapple, Craisins, Baby Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Tangerines/ Mandarin Oranges
Fun Snacks: Lays Potato Chips, Veggie Straws, Ruffles (Plain), Air Popped Popcorn
Tip #4: Food Storage
I like sturdy containers. Our lunchbox will do a lot of moving around and it sometimes gets shaken up. I prefer to keep the food separated (Who likes soggy food? LOL). Since a lot of our “on the go meals” are eaten in the car I aim for containers that are easy for her to open on her own. I really love these Sistema Containers. We have had these for about 2 years and they are still holding up well! You can find these containers at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Target, or Amazon. The only con to them is that they do not store well in the cabinet because they do stack one inside another.
I always keep a spoon, fork, and knife in the pocket the lunch box. We do not use restaurant utensils due to possible cross contamination. I think it is better safe than sorry. If I forget these utensils then I will request plastic utensils.
Also, I carry a back pack with Kai’s EpiPen and a bottle of Benadryl as a just in case measure. That way I am prepared if anything does happen.
Tip #5: Patience
My final tip is patience. It requires a lot patience to be a parent and even more patience to meal prep and pack a lunch daily. However, the benefits outweigh the time put into it. It guarantees your child an allergy safe meal no matter where you go and for parents with kiddos with no allergies, it saves money on impulse buys!
Thank you for reading! 🙂
Sending Love, Sasha Small