Allergy-Friendly Meal Series: Lunch

Posted 2.16.12 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Empty Lunchbox
The topic for today’s post in our allergy-friendly meal idea series is lunch! Just like with breakfast, a lot of the go-to lunch options for most children aren’t suitable for children on a diet that has allergy restrictions. Here are some lunch ideas that might help you add variety. As always, check with your little one’s health care team to make sure they are appropriate.

Neocate-Only Lunch Ideas

For children whose diets are strictly limited to amino acid-based formula, the same formula one lunch after another can become very routine. One great option Nutricia offers is the multiple flavors of Neocate’s E028 Splash. Many children find restrictive diets less of a struggle if they have a say in the flavor. On top of this, Splash is packaged in kid-friendly drink boxes so that nobody knows their drinking a special medical formula. Another option is to send your little one to school with a great Neocate-only pudding recipe such as Chocolaty Nutra Pudding. But why stop with chocolate pudding? Experiment with mixing the different flavors of Neocate Junior and Splash with Neocate Nutra to come up with different flavors. My favorites are Grape Splash with Junior Chocolate (“chocolate covered raisin”) and Tropical Fruit Splash with Junior Vanilla (“Dreamsicle”).

Top Eight Allergen-Free Lunch Ideas

If your child is on an elimination diet for eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or is avoiding all of the eight major allergens, you can offer some different food options along with one of the Neocate formulas. It may seem difficult at first, but you can still put together a lunch that looks pretty normal, even without the top 8 allergens. A few months ago we posted a week’s worth of ideas for allergen free lunches. Bear in mind that while most processed foods have ingredients derived from the top 8 allergens, dining on whole foods makes the top 8 much easier to avoid. You may even be able to find convenience foods in natural or organic food stores that are free of the top 8, such as soups or frozen items. Even though we first shared a lunch post from Allergy Moms in 2008, it’s still relevant and has some great ideas!

Less Restrictive Lunch Ideas

For children who avoid dairy and only one or two other allergens, we have some great lunch suggestions in our online Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook, a compilation of recipes submitted by families. Mallory posted her top five lunch ideas from the cookbook, many of which use wheat, in a previous blog. One great thing about a lot of these recipes is that many can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated for later use. The Turkey Meatloaf on page twelve would definitely be in my top five! We’ve also had a few lunch recipes appear in blog posts, such as Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Chicken Pasta Salad.

As always, we recommend that you check any recipes on our websites or from other food allergy resources to be sure that the ingredients are safe for your child and ensure that the health care team is on board.

Do you have any allergy-friendly lunches that have helped you that you’d like to share with other families?


Read Comments (2)

  • 2012-02-16 | Karen Neill

    One thing which took me a long time to find for my daughter was suitable bread. She can’t have dairy, soy or egg, so almost all commercially available breads are out. For some reason they don’t advertise, all plain Cobbs breads are dairy, egg and soy free- since we discovered that, lunch has been a lot easier! Of course, this doesn’t apply to their pizza breads and so forth. They will also print out an ingredient list on the spot- right there at the cashier.

  • 2012-02-21 | Rob

    Thanks so much for sharing, Karen! For those of you who live in Canada, you can use the COBS website ( to see if there’s a bakery near you!

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.