Peanut-free Lunches and Snacks

kids eating lunch at school

Looking for peanut-free lunches and snacks to pack for school? Take a look at our ideas below. If your child has a peanut allergy, follow our tips to help teach your child about his allergy, how to keep the school allergy-safe, and how to avoid cross-contamination.

Peanut Free Ideas For the Lunchbox

Aim to have a food from at least three of the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.  Ask your child to pick his or her top five favourite lunch menus, and then rotate them through the week.  Be sure to read the labels on all pre-packaged foods you purchase each time.

Here are some ideas to get you started.


  • Mini whole wheat pitas stuffed with shredded lean meat and grated cheese; an apple, and water.
  • Whole wheat tortilla wrap with romaine lettuce and hummus or lean meat; red pepper strips and milk. 
  • Cheese sandwich on oatmeal bread; baby carrots with dip, and orange juice. 
  • Bagel with canned salmon; sliced orange sections, and milk.


  • Pasta salad with strips of grilled chicken, green peppers and corn kernels; chocolate milk. 
  • Spaghetti and meatballs; a pear and milk. 
  • Beans and rice; orange juice and yogurt. 
  • Homemade chili with a small whole wheat bun; sliced kiwi, and fortified soy beverage.  
  • Beef and vegetable stir fry with noodles; milk.

Fun finger foods

  • Whole grain bread sticks, hummus dip, berries and a yogurt tube.
  • Homemade banana muffin, a peeled hard cooked egg, a cheese string, grapes and water.
  • Tuna salad on crackers; cantaloupe wedges and milk. 
  • Baked chicken drumstick, raisin bread cut in squares, cheese cubes, cucumber rounds and apple juice.

Check out Packing Healthy School Lunches and Snacks FAQ for a chart that mixes and matches healthy food ideas.

Healthy peanut free snacks for recess and treats for school parties

It is recommended that you use the 3 check rule when purchasing pre-packaged foods:

  1. Read the label before you purchase the product in the store.
  2. Read it again once when you are putting it away at home.
  3. Read it a third time before you serve/prepare it for the allergic individual.

These foods generally do not contain peanuts or peanut products. Always read food labels to be sure.

  • Fresh fruit, fruit cups 
  • Dried fruit (raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries), 100% fruit leathers 
  • 100% fruit juices 
  • Fresh veggies 
  • Milk and chocolate milk 
  • Plain low fat cheese 
  • Low sodium pretzels 
  • Plain popcorn 
  • Whole grain crackers  
  • Homemade trail mix (without peanuts or other nuts) 
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit juice popsicles
  • Homemade muffins or baked goods made without peanuts or peanut oil

Foods to avoid that contain peanuts

Avoid packing or using these foods because they contain or may contain peanuts. This is not a complete list! Always read labels every time you go shopping since recipes and product information may change. Stricter Canadian guidelines require that peanut-containing products are clearly labelled.  The ingredient list will say “contains: peanut” if it contains this ingredient.

  • Asian foods made with peanut sauce or Szechuan sauce 
  • Baking mixes 
  • Bulk foods (there are no ingredients lists, and peanut cross-contamination can easily happen) 
  • Chili con carne (peanut butter may be used to thicken the chili) 
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein (used in vegetarian meat substitutes) 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Peanut oil 
  • Potato chips (some may be made with peanut oil) 
  • Salad dressings that just list “oil” (it may be made with peanut oil)

Find a list of foods that commonly contain peanuts here.

Be aware of Sabrina’s Law

Sabrina’s Law — An Act to Protect Anaphylactic Pupils, came into force January 1, 2006.

Sabrina’s Law requires every school board to establish and maintain an anaphylaxis policy and every school principal to develop individual plans for pupils with an anaphylactic allergy.

For more information about Sabrina’s Law, visit the updated e-learning module. It includes avoidance strategies, emergency procedures and online videos on how to administer medication through the use of the epinephrine auto-injectors.

Keep the school allergy-safe 

  • According to Sabrina’s law, it is the obligation of the pupil’s parent or guardian and the pupil to ensure that the information in the pupil’s file is kept up-to-date with the medication that the pupil is taking.
  • Ask the teacher to inform parents that foods and snacks brought into the classroom must safe for all students if that is the policy of the school.
  • Ask the teacher to remind the students not to share or trade their food.
  • Volunteer to bring in snacks for classroom parties.

Teach your child about peanut allergies

Explain some of the symptoms and what she may feel when she is experiencing a reaction to peanuts. See our article Peanut Allergies FAQs for a list of symptoms as well as how children might describe these symptoms.

  • Ask your child not to trade/share their food with anyone or eat other kids’ food.
  • Teach your child how to read food labels and ingredients on packages.
  • Make sure your child knows whom to ask for help if she has a reaction.  Teach them to speak up so they can make others aware of their allergies.
  • Make sure they wear MedicAlert identification and carry an epinephrine auto injector (ie. EpiPen or Twinject) with them at all times.

How to avoid cross-contamination at home and when eating out

Cross-contamination happens when a food comes in contact with peanuts or peanut products. For example, if you cut your peanut butter sandwich on a cutting board, and then use the same cutting board to cut an apple for your child’s lunch. It is possible that the apple and cutting board will contain traces of peanut protein.

At home, carefully wash utensils that have touched peanut products before using them again with other foods. Use a different dish cloth to wash utensils that have touched peanuts and peanut products.

For more information:

Peanut Allergies FAQs

Food Allergy Canada

Last Update – April 26, 2018

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