Packing Gluten Free Lunches

Believe it or not, I pack my lunch every single day.

Now, you’re probably thinking “Sarah if you bring your lunch everyday you must have all the time in the world.” Um, no. Don’t forget that I work all day too. I don’t sit at home stirring a pot all day or spend 2 – 3 hours on one meal. No way! (although I absolutely LOVE spending time in the kitchen).

I also can’t rely on those glutenful staples that are often associated with lunches. But somehow, I still manage to eat some food at lunch. But how Sarah, HOW?  It’s about living it, experimentation and developing strategy. It can take time to get into a grove but you can do it.

For myself, lunches tend to be either eaten in small increments over time or 4 – 5 mini meals between breakfast and dinner because I’m either on transit or you guys see me over my lunch time – which is awesome – but that means I eat spread over time so I don’t get indigestion. Depending on your schedule, where your exercise is in your day and what you prefer you can do this differently.

Here are my favourite go-to gluten-free quick and versatile to your liking and fridge status flexible lunches. Sorry all you gluten lovers, but it’s actually more work for my brain to figure out how to incorporate gluten into a meal since it’s been almost a decade, maybe add some glutenful crackers? But why would you do that when Mary’s Crackers are awesome 🙂

Utensil Free Gluten Free Lunches

(ie. not a lot of bulk to the food, only takes a few bites, digests easily)

  • Smoothie – I often do this if I’ll be on the TTC or walking somewhere – load it up with protein powder + almond milk + avocado/nut butters + ground flaxseed + fresh or frozen fruit + greens (kale, spinach, zucchini, etc) + full fat coconut milk or yogurt if you can have dairy. The combinations are endless, I just use what I have so many multiple variations each week.
  • Rice paper wraps – they don’t break like gluten free flour based wraps or get soggy. Follow these instructions for how to roll and fill them – but add more than just veg like some chicken, or bean dip or shrimp – the insides are up to you and your fridge! A dipping sauce is optional but fun and encouraged 🙂
  • Frittata muffins – I use this recipe or this recipe and bake them in muffins tins instead. A mini muffin tin gives awesome one bite servings
  • Sometimes I bring these pancakes for lunch. ‘Cause why not? They aren’t your typical white flour, zero protein, zero fiber, high glycemic pancakes – and paired with some veggies and dip.

Leftover Mix n’ Match Gluten Free Lunches

(no recipe required just add what you have and throw it together)

  • Grain Salad – Leftover quinoa/brown rice + raw spinach + cucumber + tomato + avocado + hempseeds + edamame + lemon juice + olive oil or dressing of choice (or any vegetable combo really)
  • Picnic Style – Mary’s crackers + hummus + a couple boiled eggs + cucumber/carrots/whatever
  • Good ol’ Salad – leafy greens + other veg if you have it + handful of nuts/seeds + leftover chicken/fish/boiled eggs + dried or fresh fruit + dressing or good ol’ extra virgin olive oil + vinegar + maybe some beets or sweet potatoes if you have it
  • Soups – if you’ve made a side soup for the week or have a GF one on hand it’s easy to make it into a whole meal – just throw in some spinach/kale/zucchini/whatever you have around open an organic can of beans/lentils or if you have leftover chicken/steak or shrimp or edamame in your freezer and pour some extra virgin olive oil into it for some extra healthy fats or mix with a few dollops of coconut milk (so yummy with carrot or squash soups instead of cream) and even throw in some leftover brown rice or quinoa or sweet potatoes. Now you have a nice thick and hearty soup! Eat hot or cold.
  • Leftover hot dinner – you know those meals that are whole chickens & root veg one-pot meals? Or everything on the BBQ meals? Ya, that can be a lunch too! I don’t mind cold leftovers, so if you don’t either dive right in and eat that deliciousness. It’s usually way better the next day anyways because flavours have sat for awhile.

*You could easily make gluten free sandwiches but as I’ve mentioned a lot gluten free bread is a pet peeve of mine because I really hate if it crumbles, I prefer it toasted, and I hate it soggy. This is more of an at-home thing for me.

*You can add fresh fruit and even more raw vegetables to any and all of these. They take the least preparation so really, what’s the excuse there?

My Tricks for Easy Lunch Flavours

  • Always have a sauce/dressing on hand – whether homemade or store bought and gluten free safe it can easily be added to grain salads, green salads or used as a marinade or dipping sauce
  • Add tons of herbs and spices to chicken/fish/whatever because that will add a flavour pop no matter where you add it! Try my jerk seasoning spice rub
  • Cook grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, teff) in GF broth and onions – although I do recommend keeping some portions plain so you can really play around with it. You never know when you want a warm quinoa porridge in the morning instead. Not sure how broth and onions would taste with cinnamon and fruit. Hmmm.
  • Never underestimate the power of lemon juice or vinegar + oils (olive oil, nut oils, flax oils, or blended avocado). Usually people enjoy 1/3 vinegar/lemon and 2/3 oil/fat – but I love the half and half! More of a kick.
  • Pesto. Enough said. Just slather than when you are cooking chicken, or mix it with quinoa and vegetables, or use it as a dipping sauce. Very versatile!
  • Salsa – make sure to buy a fresh one in the fridge section or make your own because it’s oh so much tastier with fresh tomato and onions. Yum!

I think that’s enough ideas to get you through September! 🙂

If you have never ever made your lunch – start by bringing your lunch on Monday. That’s usually a nicely stocked fridge day and potentially some Sunday dinner leftovers so it’s the most reasonable to start. Begin with one day, see how it goes. Do you feel better? Next time if you’re feeling crazy, try two days! You can do it 🙂

TIP – stock up on eco-friendly plastic free storage containers like these or these

About Sarah Maughan

Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, ON and has been consulting since 2009. Her website aims to educate you, make you laugh, help you live and inspire you to eat whole food! To stay up to date sign up for free blog and recipe updates! In the meantime, empower your body with food!
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