Gluten-free Lunches on the Go

As the year winds down, packing lunches seems more and more daunting each day. Some of you may already have finished school for the year, but up here in the Boston area we still have a couple more weeks to go. Then (we hope!) the 2nd wind comes in to continue to pack lunches for camp or family picnics or the office.

Having a child with celiac disease, when we go on road trips or day trips, I often have to pack lunch because we cannot trust that we will find a place that has gluten-free meals. I like to use leftovers when I can and have lists of what my options are for lunches to help take the stress out of it. Here are some ideas for you:

Leftovers can be delicious! Make these Apricot Wings for dinner or appetizers then enjoy them for lunch the next day!

Quesadillas are the perfect on-the-go lunch. I use Rubbermaid Lunch Blocks containers most days for the kids school lunches and on road trips.

Leftover barbecue chicken makes a great lunch. The crackers pictured are one of my favorite gluten-free crackers – Van’s Lots of Everything Crackers.

Wegman’s has snack size yogurts, which fit perfectly into the kids’ lunch boxes. Throw in some lunch meat and Lance’s cheese crackers and the kids are happy 🙂

My children often want a variety in their lunch. If I give them one thing, like leftover pasta in a thermos, they like it but say that they need more than one item to eat 😉 Kielbasa, blueberries, my favorite crackers and a common accompaniment some carrots or peppers and hummus, give them enough to choose from.

As a sweet treat on the road or to bring with my son to a birthday party, I use Ziploc round screw top containers to carry a cupcake. I try to make a batch regularly and keep them in the freezer to pull out when needed, but in a pinch Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both carry delicious gluten-free cupcakes.

What are your favorite on the go lunches and sweet treats?

Back to reality, work and school…

I finally feel like I am coming out of the storm that was in my head after my son’s celiac diagnosis. I have my cooking groove back. We even made a trip out to the midwest and hosted friends at our house without any incident. I feel more grounded, more myself. I grilled pizza for the first time in a long time! One gluten free and one not. No cross contamination! Yay! Now I just need to figure out who to make my own gluten free pizza dough and how to make my gluten filled pizza dough without feeling like I have to scrub down the entire kitchen so no flour cross contaminates anything! We also met with my son’s nutritionist at Children’s, who made me feel good, like we are on the right track. Woo hoo! Let’s just hope his blood tests in the fall come back showing that the diet is working! Fingers crossed.

Anyway, back to the food! End of summer and early fall still leaves plenty of time to grill. I love to grill pizza, sausages, steak, chicken, pork, salmon, shrimp, corn, green beans, zucchini and I could keep going. To make our grill gluten free, I scrubbed it down and then turned all the burners on and let everything just cook off for about 30 minutes. When I grill something with gluten, like pizza, I usually cover that section of the grill with foil and go through the heating process before the next time I grill. I’m probably going a little overboard, but better safe than sorry!

I’m starting to see my favorite fall foods in the grocery stores…butternut squash, acorn squash, I can’t wait! That however means its also back to school and for me back to work! My kids will all be in school full day so that means three lunches to make, everyday. I have to also send a snack for my 1st grader and donate bulk for the class for the twins and make sure Paul has a selection of gluten free snacks at school. My entire Friday was basically spent at 2 different grocery stores and I still didn’t get everything! Luckily the 2nd store (Big Y) has a Kid’s club, where the kids are happy to play the Wii while I shop, but of course make the sitter buzz me while I’m in the middle of checking out because they have to the go the bathroom 🙂

Here is what my menu plan looks like for back to school week, starting with tomorrow, Tuesday (the first day of school!):

Tuesday

Breakfast – oatmeal and fruit (if I find the energy tomorrow I will make THIS one in the crock pot over night, if not it is Chex gluten free oatmeal packets. (Oats are inherently gluten free, but are often grown and/or processed with wheat, so you have to make sure it is gluten free if you need that).

Lunch – Leftover asian noodles (used rice noodles and gf soy sauce with leftover grilled chicken for dinner on Monday night),  hummus with carrots and fruit

Dinner – Grilled cheese and french onion soup in the crock pot. I have adapted the recipe linked from my earlier blog post and just throw everything in the crockpot (substitute white balsamic for the beer) for 6-8 hours on low.

Snacks – yogurt, grapes

Wednesday

Breakfast – hard boiled eggs with fruit

Lunch – ham and cheese or sun butter (hopefully the kids like it! I have never used it before) and jelly sandwiches with fruit. (I use Udi’s bread for Paul)

Dinner – pancakes [King Arthur Flour’s GF pancake mix or Bisquik’s GF pancake mix are the best I’ve found so far, until I make my own blend :)] and sausage with fruit

Snacks – cheese and crackers, bananas

Thursday

Breakfast – cereal and fruit

Lunch – turkey and cream cheese roll ups, celery, sunbutter and craisin  “ants on a log” and pretzels

Dinner – Pasta with meatballs (going to try ronzoni gluten free) and the meatballs are Mama Mancini’s Gluten Free from the fridge section in Shaw’s. I add some fresh ricotta and basil. Yum.

Snacks – yogurt, plums

Friday

Breakfast – Toast with peanut butter and honey and fruit

Lunch – ham and cheese or sunbutter and jelly sandwiches with fruit OR Leftovers

Dinner – Pizza (I usually use Udi’s GF crust for the kids and whole foods or trader joe’s pizza dough for Tim and I) served with salad  or carrots and hummus and fruit.

Snacks – celery, cream cheese and craisin “ants on a snow covered log”, pirates booty

Coming up…if the cold weather starts to set in, chili with zucchini cheddar corn bread and my butternut squash soup! all in the crock pot 🙂 Stay tuned! I’m writing down my ingredients now so will actually have measurements for recipes!

Good luck with the new school year everyone! You can always ask Mamma if you need any new ideas or have a question about what to make! Just email me at mammascooking@gmail.com.