When you find out you or someone in your family needs to have a gluten-free diet, the challenge to find delicious meal options can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, the gluten-free industry has grown tremendously over the past decade along with the community of people who share their knowledge and experience. If you aren’t sure where to start in creating delicious, healthy, enjoyable gluten-free dining experiences – this is for you!
Breakfast is often proclaimed as being the most important meal of the day. This may be true, but many of the quickest morning meals to prepare are not usually gluten-free. For example, cereal is a staple for many busy moms who simply don’t have the time to cook a full meal every morning. Gluten free granola is an amazing and delicious option that is also quick and healthy.
For those who have a bit more time on their hands, the following breakfast staples can be converted into delicious breakfasts: eggs, sausage, bacon, fresh and frozen fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, cooked quinoa, honey, and maple syrup. These can be combined to create dozens of different meals.
Quinoa is a good staple to cook over the weekend and use throughout the week due to its versatility and naturally gluten-free status. It can be used as a base to create muffins with the addition of egg, fruit, and a sweetener, turned into pancakes, or added to scrambled eggs and vegetables for a filling morning breakfast bowl.
Lunches can be especially tricky for those who won’t be near their own stove for the meal when noontime hits. This means ensuring you have a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry to prepare quick and easy meals that will travel well and taste delicious throughout the week. Who would be intimidated by that task?
This is where leftovers and a solid meal plan will really shine. Intentionally planning to have leftovers from the previous night’s meal can significantly reduce the time it takes to pack a healthy and filling gluten-free lunch. Leftover meats can be shredded into salad or added to sandwiches with gluten-free breads. Coleslaw, cold salads, chili, stews, and soups also make great lunchtime treats.
If you don’t have leftovers it is important to have a wide selection of options in the pantry and refrigerator to ensure no one feels deprived. Pre-cut fruit and vegetables are a must in the refrigerator. A variety of nuts and dried fruit in the pantry is also recommended, meanwhile salads are one of the easiest quick lunches for adults. A handful of greens, dried fruit, precut vegetables, nuts and seeds, and dressing on the side works well for several days out of the week. The variety of salads and the ease with which they can be put together makes them a super star for those looking for a fast gluten-free lunch option.
With all of the gluten-free products available in stores, it is easier than ever to prepare a gluten-free dinner. Most main course selections are naturally gluten free as are the side dishes that are vegetable based. However, to make sure your meals are also quick takes additional effort.
Anything that can be made ahead of time is a great place to start. This could include gluten free breads, desserts, casseroles, or even stews and soups that are allowed to simmer all day.
Another great way to reduce the time it takes to prepare dinner is to cook a large amount once or twice during the week and use portions of the food for the rest of the week. One of the most effective tools for creating an easy gluten-free dinner is the crockpot. It allows you to come home at the end of the day with a ready to eat meal and minimal evening effort.
In many ways, gluten-free meal planning is the same as planning meals for those without dietary restrictions. Once you have identified the options you enjoy most it is simply a matter of creating a plan and consistently following through with it at every stage along the way.
Meal planning in general is imperative. This primarily means once-a-week shopping trips to ensure you have what you need on hand rather than having to stop at the store at the last minute. Combined with preparing as much as possible on the weekends to prevent feelings of overwhelm during the week, the stress of creating the perfect meal later will be greatly reduced if not eliminated all together.
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