Friday, March 11, 2011

Sample Gluten-Free Meal Plan

When I started eating gluten-free, I already had a fair amount of gluten-free dinner plans under my belt, but I had a more difficult time finding things to eat for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is especially challenging, particularly if you are also eating dairy-free. And if you grew up like I did, you may be used to eating cold cereal every morning.

I allowed myself to eat cereal with oats at first, so I didn't have to eliminate my Trader Joe's O's, Honey Nut Cheerios, and other such things right away. When I got more serious and removed oats from my diet, I was pretty much stuck with Chex, Chex, and... more Chex. Blah. I will admit that a few things like Trix and Cocoa Puffs (which are not labeled gluten-free but don't specifically contain gluten ingredients) occasionally passed through our doors, simply because I was so sick of the monotony. (I still eat these on some rare occasions... shhh!) But yeah... if you want cold cereal that is specifically gluten-free -- and actually contain some valid nutrition -- your choices are extremely limited.

When I became pregnant with my third, I realized that a couple bowls of Chex in the morning was not going to hold me over till lunch. So, even though it meant losing the convenience of being able to make and eat breakfast in a span of 5 minutes, I began to expand my horizons. And I am glad I did. I don't normally plan my breakfasts out like the menu below or vary my choices this much in a single week, but what is below pretty much sums up my breakfast options.

As for lunch, I most often eat leftovers from a dinner the night or two before, but I will occasionally eat one of the meals below, and I often feed one of these to my kids. Of course, they would be happy to eat hot dogs and chicken nuggets for practically every meal, but that's another story...

Day 1
Breakfast: Eggs
--Scrambled, boiled, fried... whatever we are in the mood for.

Lunch: "Snack plate"
--My mom used to give us these all the time. Usually consists of lunch meat (I use Hormel, which is preservative-free and gluten-free) and a sampling of 2-3 of the following: frozen vegetables (cooked), baby carrots, pickles, apple slices, grapes, almonds, gluten-free pretzels, etc.

Day 2
Breakfast: Muffins

Lunch: Sandwiches
--I use Pamela's or Udi's bread with Hormel lunch meat or peanut / almond butter and 100% fruit jelly.

Dinner: Tacos (with homemade seasoning)

Day 3
Breakfast: Quinoa or oatmeal
--I buy organic quinoa in a 4-lb. bag at Costco (can't remember the exact price, but I think it is around $12). It is pretty plain when cooked with water, but tasty with chicken broth.

Lunch: Hot dogs
--I like to make sure I get hot dogs that are nitrate-free. (You can read about why to avoid nitrates elsewhere.) Trader Joe's has great hot dogs (about $4), and there are some other good brands, such as Applegate Farms, available at health food stores. But the cheapest and most commonly available are Oscar Mayer Selects. (My favorite is the hardwood smoked turkey variety.) They sell for around $3-$3.50 at many local grocery stores.

Dinner: Julie's chicken*

Day 4
Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles
--Both these can be made with Pamela's mix, but I often use Trader Joe's frozen waffles if I'm in a hurry.

Dinner: Turkey chili

Day 5
Breakfast: Egg salad on toast

Lunch: Spaghetti

Dinner: Chicken roaster

Day 6
Breakfast: Sausage frittata

Dinner: Meatloaf*

Day 7
Breakfast: Homemade granola*
--Excellent over cow or goat yogurt, with berries on top, if you are not too sensitive to dairy.

Dinner: Chicken pot pie*

Oh, and for a quick snack, I am particularly fond of Nature Valley's new gluten-free nut bars, available in almond and peanut varieties.

*Recipe to come shortly.

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