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My three-year-old son is starting a summer camp, and we need to pack him a lunch. He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (PB&J), so we were all set for that to be a staple of his summer lunch diet, but unfortunately another child in the camp has a peanut allergy. So, PB&J is off the table (so to speak).

I'm wondering if there's some close substitute for peanut butter that would still work well in a sandwich with jelly, but is safe for those with allergies. (Analogous to soy milk for those who're lactose intolerant, I suppose.)

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Wow, are they really telling you not to send peanuts because one other kid in the class has nut allergies? I'm kinda shocked. – cabbey Jun 1 '11 at 16:49
@cabbey: It's fairly common to have rules like this, and at this age (3-ish) kind of understandable since it's hard to explain to the kids not to eat or not to share. Some kids with peanut allergies are really allergic. – lgritz Jun 3 '11 at 5:38
Ah, I missed the age range, I suppose it makes more sense then. – cabbey Jun 3 '11 at 20:10
@cabbey some people also have so severe allergies that being around peanuts can be dangerous. In addition, think of crumbs and other spills - even for older kids. – Ida Aug 27 '15 at 21:14
up vote 1 down vote accepted

There is also non-nut butters avaialable, like pea butter or soy butter (both made from lentils). This usually works fine, except when caregivers assume it's peanut butter because it looks similar - so you may have to label it to be on the safe side.

Also you could try banana and honey sandwiches, or egg salad to get some protien, or tuna salad (not quite as easy but still quick and less likely to fall apart then meat with lettuce). Also grilled cheese (which will cool in the bag) is still yummy hours after making it.

happy lunching.

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Sunflower seed butter is a non-nut butter that is close to peanut butter. My son's daycare is nut free, and this is what they use. – Ida Aug 27 '15 at 21:15

Use sunbutter or wowbutter and jelly. They are peanut butter substitutes that are supposed to taste exactly like peanut butter, but are both 100% peanut free! I have a peanut allergy and I eat it all the time.

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Hi Jojo, and welcome to Personal experience is so helpful. Thanks! – anongoodnurse Aug 31 '15 at 2:26

Depends on the kinds of foods your child likes, these days at least in the US pretty much most schools say don't even bother sending in anything with Peanuts - nut allergies seem to be on the increase. Some options we give to our kids:

  • Honey and Banana sandwiches
  • Maki Rolls, my wife makes vegetable maki rolls for the kids, one of them loves roasted eel and gets that sometimes
  • Bread Rolls, we buy some from the asian bakeries that have fillings, they do hot dog rolls too
  • If your kids don't mind cooled hot dogs, you could wrap them in biscuit dough or something similar and send them off
  • Hot foods in a thermos, well not hot burning, but warm so they'll still eat it

Never seen a good enough peanut substitute since anything similar, like Almond Butter, still sort of falls under the no nut rule some schools institute.

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"most schools say don't even bother sending in anything with Peanuts - nut allergies seem to be on the increase" they may be causing each other – bjb568 Aug 26 '15 at 21:58

Humous makes for an awesome sandwich spread. If he likes veggies you can make all sorts of interesting combos... humous and sprouts, humous and zucchini slices, etc. Try also with raisins or crasins (I'm not sure how far around the world those have spread yet, they're raisins made from cranberries... very awesome, though sometimes over-sugared.)

Another option is a cheese sandwich or quesadilla, grilled or melted ahead of time. Even cold those tend to be quite nice, combined with a small thermos of tomato soup to dip them in and you can almost ignore them being cold.

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Sunflower seed butter!

Seriously, I was also in the "what do you mean my kid can't have peanut butter" camp, but no kidding, this stuff is a very reasonable substitute, I even make sandwiches with it myself.

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Sunflower seeds can trigger the allergies for some people with tree nut allergies, so it might not be such a good substitute. – Beofett Jun 3 '11 at 19:52
All I know is that in my son's school, it's "no peanuts or tree nuts", and since sunflowers aren't trees this is allowed by the rules. – lgritz Jun 5 '11 at 5:08
+1 this stuff's pretty decent, (it's usually branded as "Sun Butter") and while sunflower allergies can be severe, they're a lot rarer than peanut, sesame, etc. – Jaydles Jul 17 '14 at 19:56

We used Almond Butter, it looks and tastes comparable but contains no peanuts.

But the camp might have problems with that too, although they are generally made specifically as peanut-butter substitute and are thus safe for peanut allergies.

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My son's camp is the same way. A friend recommended SoyNut Butter.

We haven't tried it yet, but so far no peanut butter substitute has been palatable to him. We'll probably try this one, but I don't have high hopes.

For nut free lunches, we've opted for cold cuts mainly. You could also try cream cheese and jelly, or just jelly, although that's not a super healthy or filling option.

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