Gluten free meal planning takes more effort, and the choices are limited if you're relying on processed foods. Grocery stores are becoming more aware of the need to stock gluten free meals, but the foods available are often confined to just a few shelves unless there's a huge demand in your area. You have to be creative and you may have to do some of your shopping online to get the ingredients you need to make your meals. Here's what you need to know about the diet and tips for meal planning.
Gluten Free Diet
If you're on a gluten free diet, you have to abstain from wheat, rye, oats and barley. These foods contain the wheat protein called gluten that can be detrimental your health if you have certain underlying conditions, such as celiac disease. Many canned foods and other processed foods also contain gluten, and the United States Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers and distributors to notify consumers on the label. When you're on this diet, you have to become an expert at reading labels so that you can avoid gluten when you're meal planning. Look for "Contains Wheat" or "Not Gluten Free" to be on the safe side.
List of Gluten Free Foods
Before you start meal planning, make a list of gluten foods that you or someone else in your home that you're cooking, for likes to eat. It's especially important to make a list if you're dealing with a picky eater. For example, a common symptom of children struggling with autism is picky eating. If you're cooking gluten free meals for a picky eater, then you'll want the separate the foods that you know they'll eat from new foods that you want to introduce. It also makes meal planning easier if you develop a list so that you can plug in meals for various days.
List of Breakfast Foods
Breakfast is the easiest meal to plan. Here are some ideas for gluten free breakfast foods that you can add to your list:
- Granola made with gluten free oats
- Cold cereals, such as rice cereals
- Pancakes and muffins made with rice flour
Check the labels for other ingredients, because you may also have to eliminate or reduce the amount of additives in your foods to eat healthy.
List of Lunch Foods
Meal planning for lunches gets more difficult unless you really love salads. Here are some ideas for gluten free lunch foods:
- Meat and rice
- Breads made from tapioca, quinoa or other gluten free flour with deli meats
You can find recipes for making your own bread, or buy a gluten free bread mix at the supermarket or online.
List of Dinner Meals
Some ideas for dinner meals are no different from non-gluten free meal planning. It's just that the ingredients used to make the foods are different. These include:
- Spaghetti and meatballs, using brown rice flour for the pasta
- Beef stew
- Meatloaf and salad
You can buy these pre-made or cook your own from scratch.
When you first get started with gluten free meal planning, it can be frustrating. It's even harder in some cases if you're making your own meals from scratch, but you'll save more money.