Dairy free lunch box ideas

If you’re just getting started with making dairy free lunch boxes or are running short on ideas, I’m here to help! Whether it’s for school, nursery or days out, I’ve got lots of dairy free packed lunch inspiration for you. I’m also sharing the kit we love; our favourite lunch box, insulated flask, water bottle and more.

These lunch box ideas are not just dairy free, they are free from egg & soy as well. Plus, I have made sure nothing contains nuts as so many schools are now nut free.

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The most useful kit for an easier lunch box experience!

We’ve tried out plenty of packed lunch paraphernalia – and wasted lots of money on leaky bottles and flimsy lunchboxes. But I have finally settled on some excellent products! Here are my favourite bits of kit to help make your packed lunch life easier.

Yumbox Panino Bento lunch boxes* – these are our favourites! We’ve had them for years and absolutely love them. They have a bento style insert which helps keep different elements separate; you can even put in yogurt . The kids have been able to cope with opening them on their own since Reception age, but younger kids might need a hand.

Insulated flask by Sho* – I’ve found that it’s useful to have the option to send something hot as a packed lunch; especially if you want to make use of dinner leftovers! The Sho flask keeps the food hot until lunch time, and the lid can be used as a little bowl. We use the 530ml size. It’s not too large or heavy to carry, and very comfortably fits a child sized portion of pasta, stew or soup.

Reusable pouches for yogurt and smoothies* – A lot of people give yogurt or smoothie pouches as part of a packed lunch. Unfortunately dairy free versions of these can be tricky to find – and expensive! Instead we use reusable pouches for homemade smoothies, or for portioning out yoghurt from a big pot,

My favourite by far are Nom Nom pouches. You can get them in a cute animal design* in 140ml size, or larger 250ml capacity pouches* which are good for older kids. The side opening means they are very easy to fill and clean.

Allergy stickers and key rings* – Allergy Pen Pals have a great range of allergy alert stickers, key rings and badges, some of which can be personalised. These can be used on your child’s bag, lunch box and bottle.

The great thing about these is that they feature kid friendly characters, rather than looking very medical. Your child will be delighted with their fun sticker, while you get extra peace of mind that you’ve got an additional way to make their allergy clear to all the adults around them.

Sports spout bottles by b.box *- I have purchased many, many kids water bottles in my time. These are by far my favourite. You can most certainly find cheaper bottles, these are more expensive than average. But for me, I was having to replace the cheaper ones so often that these have been a good investment. 

Insulated lunch box bag – The easiest way to keep food chilled or hot until lunch time is to get an insulated lunch box bag. To keep food extra cold I also like to pop a small freezer block*.

Dairy free lunch box filler ideas

Below are lots of ideas for lunch box fillers, both hot and cold options. As well as being dairy free, they are all free from eggs and soy. Additionally, none of the ideas shared here contain nuts; so many schools and nurseries now require nut free. However, always double check ingredients as they can – and do – change without warning. Some of these products carry a ‘may contain’ warning.

Cold dairy free lunch box ideas:

These are all designed with a Yumbox* bento lunch box in mind, so have got 4 elements – one for each section! Of course you can also do this without a bento style lunch box, you’ll just need to use separate containers or individually wrapped packets.

  1. Creamy spinach pinwheels, carrot sticks, hummus for dipping, Soreen bar. Mango smoothie in a pouch*.
  1. Pizza slice topped with dairy free cheese and chicken, tuna or ham. Plus a courgette muffin, dairy free yogurt, orange segments or apple slices  
  1. Sandwich (using a dairy & soy free bread and a vegan spread), cucumber sticks, vegan babybel, oat bar (e.g. by Angelic* or Organix). Sandwich filling options include hummus, ham and cucumber, vegan cheese, tomato and pickle, or tuna and sweetcorn mixed with vegan mayo,  
  1. Rice & tuna salad with chopped peppers, Ritz crackers, sliced grapes, vegan cookie, a dairy free smoothie in a pouch* on the side.
  1. Sweet potato biscuits, cold ham or cooked chicken, grated carrot & raisins, crisps (e.g. Eat Real hummus crisps, ready salted pom bears or hula hoops)  

You might also like to check out my post sharing some ideas for free-from shop bought snacks to fill up that lunch box. 

Hot dairy free packed lunch ideas

dairy free lunch box ideas - hot food

If you have an insulated flask* to be able to send in a hot lunch, the following options work well:

  1. Pasta dishes
  2. Shredded smokey chicken and rice (all mixed together)
  3. Stir fries
  4. Butternut squash vegan mac & cheese
  5. Soup, with bread to dip in wrapped separately

When I do a hot packed lunch, it is nearly always leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Doing this will make your life a lot easier! Just make sure to always reheat until piping hot all the way through.

My top tip is to fill your flask with boiling water and leave for a few minutes to heat up. Then empty it out and put the hot food in. This helps the food stay hotter for longer.

Tips to make life easier

Having to make packed lunches can really be a time drain – especially on top of everything else we have to do as allergy parents. Here are a few tips I’ve learnt over the years which speed up the process:

  • Keep a freezer stash of lunch box friendly food; things you can simply get out of the freezer in the evening which will be defrosted & ready to go the next day. Pinwheels, oat cookies, sweet potato breadsticks and vegan courgette muffins all work well for this. You can even freeze sandwiches! 
  • Slice up a load of veggies at the start of the week e.g. carrots, cucumbers and peppers. Then just take out daily portions as needed.
  • Make use of dinner leftovers whenever you can, particularly if you’ve got an insulated flask to serve hot food. Leftover cold meats are always handy as a lunchbox filler.
  • Mix up the home made and the shop bought elements to keep variety up and costs down.

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