The Lunch-time Learning Curve

In the first few months of being diagnosed with coeliac disease, I can think of a handful of times where I found myself panicking because hadn’t thought about where I’d be able to find anything I could safely eat for lunch, or anxiously analysing the ingredients of pre-packaged salads during the busy lunchtime rush (“is cous-cous the gluten-free one, or am I getting it mixed up with quinoa*?! I give up!!”).

I quickly learned that eating lunch when following a gluten-free diet often comes down to one important thing – planning ahead!
When working, I try to prepare a packed lunch – particularly if I’m working somewhere that isn’t within walking distance of any of my favourite coeliac-friendly lunch spots.

For me, a simple packed lunch usually consists of;

  • a sandwich: I use Genius Triple Seeded Farmhouse bread (which is definitely my favourite of all the available GF breads) filled with either chicken or cheese and GF salad cream
  • a pack of GF crisp: Seabrook crisps don’t break the bank at £1 for a pack of six, Canadian Ham is my current favourite flavour but they offer lots of different flavours and all of them are gluten-free!
  • a stick of cheese
  • a yoghurt
  • perhaps a bar of chocolate

If I’m feeling super prepared at the beginning of the week, I’ll make a pancetta and veg frittata and take two slices for lunch each day.

Try as I might, preparing a packed lunch for work doesn’t always work out as planned – I sometimes oversleep in the morning, I might run out of bread, or maybe I just can’t be bothered to prepare food. In which case, here are my favourite places to grab a quick GF lunch:

#1 Boots
Gluten-free options galore. They sometimes have GF sandwiches, but 99% of the time I will opt for the salmon and prawn sushi or a sushi salad. All of the GF options are included in the meal deal, which means you don’t have to pay more for lunch than your gluten-consuming friends. Bonus!

#2 M&S
The sandwiches in the Made Without Wheat range at M&S are really delicious, my favourite is the chicken and bacon one. However, they are pretty expensive (£3.50 for one sandwich, come on?!) and they are rarely included in the meal deal.

#3 Costa Coffee
Who doesn’t love a latte at lunchtime?? Costa sell GF chicken caesar wraps, but once it’s gone it’s gone! I also recommend the Rhythm 108 GF (and DF!) chocolate and hazelnut tea biscuits.

I’ve never had any luck in finding GF lunches in my local Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. I also don’t visit Starbucks anymore because I’m conscious of cross-contamination issues as they offer the option of oat milk in their drinks.

Where do you find has the best GF lunchtime options? What do you include in your packed lunches? How do you think I could easily make my packed lunch more exciting? I’d love to hear 🙂

Hannah

*Cous-cous definitely isn’t gluten free.

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