Q: Katherine – I am after some lunch tips for a 7-year-old girl who has just been put on a dairy-free diet. She loves yogurt and cheese, so I’m not sure what to do. Do you have any dairy-free lunch box ideas?
A: Alisa – There are ample dairy-free substitutes available on the market for both yogurt and cheese. So Delicious is the expert in coconut-based yogurt with sweetened, unsweetened and Greek-style options. Silk whips up indulgent, higher protein soy-based yogurts, and Kite Hill is gaining popularity for delicious almond-based yogurts. In terms of cheese alternatives, Daiya is the most allergy-friendly, but Follow Your Heart slices & mini single-serve cuts have dazzled us, and Go Veggie now offers vegan “cream cheese” singles. Since these products can be a scary investment at first, we have cheese alternative product reviews and yogurt product reviews to give you an unbiased taste preview.
However, dairy alternatives may not meet your little one’s expectations at first. Sometimes switching straight from a dairy product to a dairy-free substitute for that product might be a bit too “different” for young or sensitive taste buds. Taking a full “dairy break” can remove a little of that taste memory, so that she can later enjoy these other products in their own right. You can certainly leap into the world of dairy alternatives if you wish, but also consider venturing out into some other kid-friendly foods. Below are numerous dairy-free lunch box resources, recipes and ideas to help!
Instant E-Books for Dairy-Free Lunch Box Recipes & Ideas
- Go Dairy Free: The Guide & Cookbook – Yes, Go Dairy Free is available as an ebook (Kindle, iPad, PDF, etc.) in addition to paperback. See my notes below for the back to school friendliness in this book.
- Smart School Time Recipes – Did you know that I put out a free e-cookbook specifically for healthier breakfasts and lunches? The recipes are a collection from many of my online friends, but I ensured that all are either dairy-free or include a dairy-free option.
- Snackable – This is another free e-cookbook that I created specifically for dairy-free sweet, savory, and sippable recipes. It includes 25 original recipes that happen to be vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free, too, with peanut-free options and an allergy chart.
Go Dairy Free for Back to School:
Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook is my largest compilation of tips, snacks, and recipes for kids and lunch boxes. Within you will find sections entitled, “Kids: Back to School & Celebrations” and “Snack Time,” plus recommendations for quick meals and snacks, grocery shopping guides, and numerous health tips (calcium and protein anyone?). And of course, there are the recipes.
Just a few of the dairy-free lunch box ready recipes in Go Dairy Free include (clockwise from top left) Chewy Granola Bars (easy and versatile), Maple Bran Muffins (one of my favorite pack-along breakfasts), Cashew Creme Cheeze (great for spreading on bagels), and Fudge Brownie Cookies (a special dairy-free lunch box treat). All of these are not only dairy-free, but also made without eggs and peanuts for those peanut-free school zones.
Our Favorite Dairy-Free Lunch Box Recipes Online
These are some delicious dairy-free lunch box ready recipes that have been very popular with moms.
Sweet Treats & Snacks
- Super-Friendly Trail Mix Bars (pictured below)
- Easy DIY Candy Bars
- Dirt Pudding Cups
- Super Banana Oat Bars
- Amazing Apple Fries (pictured below)
- Peanut Butter Protein Balls
- Bavarian Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Dip
- Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Bars
- Vanilla Chia Pudding
- Slow Cooker Tomato Queso Dip
- Chocolate Truffle Snacks
- Butternut Banana Mini Muffins (pictured below)
- Healthy Hummus Pinwheels (pictured below)
- Power Muffins
- Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
- Healthier Ramen with Fresh Veggies
- Mild Curry Chicken Nuggets
- Pepperoni Rolls
- Apple Treasure Chests or Kabobs
- Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Baked Falafel Pitas (pictured below)
- Tahoe Crunch Sandwiches
- Salmon Salad Sandwiches (pictured below)
- Veggie Frittata Bites
- Gnocchi in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
- Ten-Minute Tuna Couscous
- Superfast Tuna Edamame Salad
- Meatloaf Muffins (pictured below)
- Butternut Mac ‘n Peas (pictured below)