20 Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas

By Sonja Stewart on 17 January 2011 (Updated 13 January 2012) 13 comments
Photo: Tetra Pak

Taking your lunch to work saves you money, but it's such a hassle when you're living with a gluten allergy. Something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich becomes a nightmare of buying expensive bread or making your own. Although you can make your own gluten-free bread ahead of time for days you want a sandwich, here's a list of 20 non-sandwich lunches for a frugal gluten-free lifestyle. (See also: 25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas)

  1. Gluten-free pizza
  2. Cream cheese wraps with homemade gluten-free tortillas
  3. Deviled eggs
  4. Chef's salad
  5. Gluten-free pasta salad (quinoa pasta is best)
  6. Thai food (rice noodles)
  7. Chili
  8. Nachos
  9. Burritos with gluten-free tortillas
  10. Greek quinoa salad
  11. Veggies with hummus and cottage cheese
  12. Moroccan lentil salad
  13. Hard tacos
  14. Soft tacos with corn tortillas
  15. Lettuce wraps (use gluten-free soy sauce)
  16. Peanut butter and jelly roll-ups with gluten-free tortillas
  17. Pepperoni pizza wraps with gluten-free tortillas
  18. Taco salad with crunchy tortilla chips on top
  19. Fried rice
  20. Quiche muffins (recipe below)

Quiche Muffin Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients:

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW
  • 8-10 eggs
  • ¼ cup frozen, chopped spinach (thawed)
  • ¼ cup green onions diced
  • 2 wedges Happy Cow swiss cheese (or 2 tablespoons cream cheese)
  • 3 slices lunchmeat ham, diced
  • ¼ cup mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • seasoning to taste

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor, or just beat very well with a whisk. Pour them into a greased cupcake pan, about 2/3 full. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool before putting them into plastic storage bags. Freeze or refrigerate. After thawing, place them in microwave on high for about 30 seconds before serving.

Packing Gluten-Free Lunches

Some of these lunches would do well if you have access to a microwave at work. Also, it pays to invest in a small cooler to keep the meats chilled before lunch.

If you're packing lunch for your kids, here are ideas to prepare your gluten-free kids to go to school, with age-appropriate lunch ideas.

Gluten-Free Snacks

Snacks on the side are relatively easy. There are a lot of very gluten-free friendly snacks out there if you read the labels. Some of our family favorites are:

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Kettle chips
  • Tortilla chips
  • Popcorn
  • Pop Chips
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Honey Nut Chex (Buy them on sale and use coupons.  We live by these snacks.)

Also, if you really want a no-brainer and are craving sandwiches in your lunch, just bake double a batch of gluten-free french bread on Sunday, cut each loaf in half, (you should have four) and freeze the loaves. Microwave a half of one the night before work and you have yourself enough bread to make a six inch sub. This makes for an easy lunch that doesn't need a microwave at work (unless you do something really tasty like a tuna melt or a meatball sub).

Making life as simple as possible for the gluten-challenged is what I spend my days doing. I'm always looking for ways to keep it cheap and simple. If you have any gluten-free lunch ideas, I'd love to hear them.

 

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Guest's picture
A

Thank you! Great suggestions. So hard to think straight in the morning, but I'm printing these out to have handy. More, please!

Guest's picture
Melyssa

Good ideas, but I am curious to see peanut butter on the list. Due to more and more kids being allergic to peanuts, I now have to use almond butter instead of peanut butter.

Sonja Stewart's picture

Almond butter is great. So is almond cheese to replace dairy for those allergic to dairy. Substitutions are always welcome. This is really just to get your thoughts swirling to think outside the "lunch box" when gluten free lunches get monotonous. Adapt away, to your own special allergy needs.

Guest's picture
Guest Carole

A rice cake with a layer of Nutella and a layer of peanut butter is an old standbye for me. Put it in a little round plastic box with toothpicks protuding to prevent all being smashed.

Sonja Stewart's picture

I love this idea!!! So yummy. Thanks, Carole.

Guest's picture
Troushka

So, has anyone ever found a gluten-free tortilla you can wrap/fold without it splitting and curling? If so, let me know!!

Sonja Stewart's picture

I haven't "found one" per se. But I can make them. Here's a link to that article.
http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-gluten-free-living-flour-tortillas-that-...

Guest's picture
Kitty

Thank you so much for your easy, cheap recipes Sonja! I have relied on them since going gluten free last summer. I just can't get any bread recipes to work out with my breadmaker. But this week I baked a banana pecan bread and a cheese sunflower bread by adapting quick bread or biscuit recipes. I just substituted the flour with your all purpose gf flour.

My new favorite gf snacks are the crackers by Blue Diamond. They are made with nut flours. Pecan are my favorite so far. They are sort of expensive - but so worth it!

Guest's picture
Drew Custer

These are great gluten-free food suggestions. I appreciate it. I have a friend who plays basketball in college who has to maintain a gluten-free diet. I'll refer this article to him. He gets frustrated finding good food to eat sometimes. Great article

Guest's picture
Gina

Thanks for postiing this. I am always looking for new lunch ideas. :)

Guest's picture
RM

I make gluten free fish sticks (coat small pieces of fish w/ GF flour and spices and then fry), lunch meat roll-ups, rice with sausage and spinach, meatballs, GF fried chicken, and even refried beans in taco shells for my son's GFCF lunch. I just add a coconut flour muffin or homemade cookie, fruit and veggies.

Guest's picture
Guest

I appreciate any list i can find of foods that I can eat, however on your list you have Chili and Chili in and of itself may not be gluten free unless the chili powder or mix is the pure season or states gluten free -- Just and FYI

Guest's picture

Fried rice is NOT gluten free. Soy sauce has wheat in it ans say sauce is a key ingredient in making fried rice.