Gluten-Free Meal Plans: Sample Menus & Tips

As we all know, meal planning makes grocery shopping easier, staying on budget easier, and scheduling time easier.

There are weeks when I am a meal planning machine, thinking 2-3 weeks ahead of time, partnering in-season produce with pantry or fridge items that are about to expire, and getting up early to prep a bunch of gluten-free snacks for the whole week.

meal plan 1

And then there are weeks where I’ve been glutened or my two year-old is sick or I’m just one step (or five) behind for no good reason at all.

For a long time, I felt inadequate and guilty for not being “together” 100% of the time. I hear about mothers who grocery shop only once a month or spend one day preparing every meal for a month or stick to a monthly grocery budget of $200—I applaud them, but I also wonder what makes me NOT able to do that.

It’s easy for me to blame my gluten-related low energy levels or lack of something or another, but rather than feeling angry or anxious, I’m (slowly) learning to be more flexible with myself. After all, what’s the point of having a second chance if you don’t actually enjoy it. Life is messy and chaotic—meal planning is a great tool, but it doesn’t always fit in to our family routine.

That being said, I thought it might inspire me to stay positive during the rougher weeks if I write down a few sample weekly meal plans along with some tips for those days when we’re just trying to survive. Please note I usually make the meal plan, but my husband and I share the cooking responsibility depending on our schedules.

meal plan 2

Sample (Ideal) Planned Week

Sunday

Actual Week of Meals

Actual Planned Week

Lunch:

  • Improvised (leftovers OR go-to meal)

Dinner:

  • GF pasta with meat sauce OR Indian/African curry with rice OR hearty stew or soup
  • Roasted veggies

Monday

Lunch:

  • Sunday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Baked chicken breasts (or rotisserie chicken in a pinch – check to see if it is GF)
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Roasted veggies

MAKE:

Tuesday

Lunch:

  • Sunday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Steamed collard greens wraps with leftover diced chicken, potatoes and veggies (chopped in food processor and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil) dipped in sauce (hummus, mustard, and spices)

Wednesday

Lunch:

  • Tuesday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Finish Sunday leftovers

MAKE:

Thursday

Lunch:

  • Tuesday leftovers
  • Homemade snack or treat

Dinner:

Friday

Lunch:

  • Thursday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, veggie, paleo bread) OR salmon with veggie and rice or quinoa

Saturday

Lunch:

  • Improvised (leftovers OR go-to meal)

Dinner:

  • Homemade waffles with yogurt, nut butter, and easy homemade jam (leftovers are Sunday breakfast)

 

Sample Improvised Week

Sunday

Actual Improvised Week

Actual Improvised Week

Lunch:

  • Improvised (leftovers OR go-to meal)

Dinner:

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Defrosted peas or vegetable (if available)
  • Toast with hummus and olive tapenade

Monday

Lunch:

  • Sunday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Defrosted peas
  • Cheese toast

MAKE:

  • No time/energy for extra cooking

Tuesday

Lunch:

  • Sunday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Inexpensive GF takeout (enough for leftovers)

Wednesday

Lunch:

  • Tuesday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Nut butter sandwich OR grilled cheese OR nachos
  • Veggies with hummus

MAKE:

  • No time/energy for extra cooking

Thursday

Lunch:

  • Sandwich with GF deli meat
  • GF chips
  • Fruit

Dinner:

  • Frozen GF pizza crust OR corn tortilla pizzas

Friday

Lunch:

  • Thursday leftovers

Dinner:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Defrosted peas
  • Cheese toast

Saturday

Lunch:

  • Improvised (leftovers OR go-to meal)

Dinner:

  • 2-ingredient waffles (bananas and eggs) with yogurt and/or nut butter

Tips:

  • We are creatures of habit and have the same breakfast most of the time (crockpot oatmeal). I make it once a week and heat up portions as needed.
  • Have at least one go-to meal that is quick and easy. These go-to meals change for us depending on circumstances/season, but right now it’s scrambled eggs (and potatoes and/or veggie if we have them). Past go-to meals include grilled cheese and (canned) tomato soup, pizza (frozen pizza crust), salmon (frozen individual salmon filets defrosted as needed) with avocado toast, and egg hash or nachos with whatever leftovers we have on hand.
  • Try to make one meal for the family as much as possible. This is tricky when you’re dealing with multiple and/or differing intolerances. Try to have meals with components that can accommodate everyone. For instance, pizza night in our house includes deconstructed pizza (breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce and a side of whatever toppings are on hand) for my son who cannot eat dairy or soy.
  • Ideally, I like to make 1-2 gluten-free snacks and/or treats per week (1 at the beginning, 1 mid-week), but snacks are simplified on tougher weeks (nuts and cheese, fruit and nuts, trail mix, half a nut butter and banana sandwich).

This is the meal planning system that works for our family—at least for right now. We change our strategy to meet our current family needs and/or food availability. When we have extra time or money, I experiment with international cuisine or new ingredients.  During the winter when Farmers’ Markets are closed, we eat a little less fresh fruit and a lot more potatoes and squash. When we can’t get to the grocery store, we scrounge.

fruit bowl

For me, the goal of meal planning is not perfection—it’s balance.

Please share both your ideal and improvised gluten-free meal plans in the comments below!

How do you make your gluten-free meal plans?

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