Gluten free lunches were the next step to overcome in our home because like most, I used to make sandwiches for the kids quite often. As much as breakfast needs to be quick for most, lunch is a meal that definitely needs to be planned and have the ability to be packed. With that being said, finding foods that can be prepared the day before or morning of are essential to a gluten free lunch.
If you are out and do not have anything packed for the day, there are a couple of healthier options:
1. Hit up a grocery store. Most grocery stores offer salad bars with not only salad, but also fruits, other vegetables and eggs. They sometimes have meats available as well. If you pick up meat, avoid sandwich meats, they are often laced with fillers that contain not only gluten but other ingredients you want to avoid. Unless you know it's really just meat, I would avoid it.
2. If you have to eat at a restaurant, order a la carte. When ordering at a restaurant, ordering your items a la carte and without seasonings is the safest way to go. Ordering a meat and two vegetables is usually what my husband recommends (one being a salad with no dressing and use balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make your own dressing). And skip the lunch rolls!
3. Find an organic and/or gluten-free restaurant or deli. Check out the area for a restaurant that offers foods that you know you can eat. Most restaurants post their menus online or you can also call ahead. Some places such as Panera Bread and Chipotle offer gluten-free menu items.
Unless money and eating out at healthy, organic eateries is not an issue, packing your lunches is the most effective, consistent, healthy and cost-efficient way to maintain a healthy diet for the vast majority of Americans. Whatever you pack, we usually recommend that it be something you can either eat cold or if you have the option, be heated on the stove top or in the oven instead of being heated up in the microwave. Microwaving your food kills enzymes in the food, which therefore decreases the nutritional value of your meal.
When we are home where we are able to cook, our lunches consist of either hard-boiled eggs or a meat for protein (chicken legs are the most common), pieces of cut up fruits (apples, oranges, pears, pomegranates, plums, etc..), cut up raw vegetables with a fresh dip (guacamole, hummus or paleo dip), nuts, nut spreads, fresh spinach salad, sweet potatoes, vegetable salad, cheeses (preferably raw-milk based), soups, yogurt with frozen fruit (preferably raw-milk based) and sometimes just left-overs from the night before.
Michael's favorite lunch meal is ground grass-fed beef topped with onions, tomatoes and tomato sauce with a side of a baked sweet potato.
If we are going out, the same pretty much applies, except no soups and our meats are cold vs freshly cooked. Our favorite vegetable salad that is easy to make for on the road is what I call the "Bob & Larry Salad" after our kids favorite Veggie Tales characters. Here is the recipe:
"Bob & Larry Salad"
sheep/goat milk feta cheese
balsamic/apple cider vinegar
We usually keep the dressing on the side in a separate container until it's time to eat.
Cold chicken offers a great resource for protein with variety for lunches. You can boil the chicken on the bone to make a broth for a vegetable soup that can easily be reheated throughout the week over the stove top and then set aside the meat for a chicken salad as well. The Paleo Diet Lifestyle website offers some great recipes on healthy, paleo mayonnaise's for chicken salads at http://paleodietlifestyle.com/.
You can also visit the Nutrition Weight and Wellness website for more recipes on soups, salads and meats for your packed lunches at http://www.weightandwellness.com/recipes.html.