Allergen-Free Packed Lunch Ideas

Packed lunches are a healthy and affordable alternative to dining out. They are also an easy way to avoid cross-contamination that can accidentally happen at cafeterias and restaurants.

Sliced apple stacked on top of itself.

Though not all brown bagged staples are appropriate for all allergies, below are some suggestions for accommodating specific allergies by making substitutions for popular lunch items. When preparing packed lunches, it is also important to carefully read ingredient labels to see if products contain or were processed with the same equipment as an allergen.

Packed Lunch Substitutions

Popular Lunch Item Potential Allergy Substitution
PB&J Sandwich
  • Wheat
  • Peanut
  • Egg
  • Alternative nut butter with banana slices
  • Veggie sandwich: leafy greens, hummus, cucumber and tomato
Trail Mix
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, granola, pumpkin seeds
Pre-packaged Convenience Items, i.e. fruit snacks, crackers, and chips
  • Wheat
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Sulfites and Additives
  • Vegetables: Carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sliced bell pepper
  • Fruits: banana, apple, orange, stone-fruits like peaches, cherries and plums.
  • Applesauce, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt cups

The economical and health benefits associated with packed lunches should not be lost to a food allergy or intolerance. Create a healthy, balanced lunch with these tips in mind to ensure a safe meal.

Did you Know?

Leftovers make quick and easy lunches, so try making extra dinner that can be saved for your lunch tomorrow!

Packed lunches are often healthier than restaurant meals since restaurants tend to offer larger portion sizes and sides that contain added fat, like fries and chips.