When life gets really busy, we all appreciate being able to take shortcuts. And most people look for shortcuts when it comes to eating. While it is possible to get gluten-free fast food at many restaurants, the risk of cross-contamination is often high. Another option, which can be less expensive and healthier, is to look for ready-to-eat foods at the grocery store.
Take time when you’re not in a hurry to check out the options at your local stores. Make a list and keep it handy. Then when you are in a rush, you know where you can stop and what you can get. But always read ingredient labels just to make sure nothing has changed.
Occasionally, when I go out of town without my husband (who is also gluten free), I purchase ready-to-eat food for him to have while I’m away (he really can’t cook). So here are some ideas that I fall back on for my husband as well as for nights when I need a cooking break.
Rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite fast-food options, but you have to be careful. Not all of them are gluten free. Look for “gluten free” on the package or read the ingredients. Plain, unflavored varieties are usually the best option. I like getting them from BJs or Costco because you get a bigger chicken than at other stores. (I haven’t gotten one from Costco in a while, so I’m not sure they still have a gluten free option.)
Depending on the size of your family, you might have leftovers from a rotisserie chicken. Maybe even enough for a second dinner. The only drawback to rotisserie chicken is having to cut the meat off the bone. If you want something that’s no work at all, consider other options.
Because chicken salad contains lots of ingredients, you have to check it out carefully. If you find one at the deli that is gluten free, ask for it to be taken directly from the container. Food that’s in the display case could get cross contaminated from nearby foods like macaroni salad.
I generally avoid foods that say they are processed in a facility/on equipment with foods containing wheat, but I have found that I have no problems with the rotisserie chicken salad at Giant.
I like to buy the small chubs of turkey ham that are cooked, boneless, and ready to eat. Just slice or chop. It can be put on a sandwich or on top of salad or eaten plain with some quick sides.
Just like chicken salad, potato salad has lots of ingredients and you need to check it carefully. If you are getting it at the deli counter, ask for it to be taken from the original container to avoid cross contamination. Potato salad is a great side to go along with a rotisserie chicken.
Hard Cooked Eggs
In the egg section of the grocery store, you can often find a bag of pre-cooked, peeled eggs that are ready to eat. They can go on a salad or be made into egg salad.
Bagged or Boxed Salad
Avoid salad with croutons, but there are lots of gluten-free options for ready-to-eat salad as well as salad dressing. You can put rotisserie chicken, chicken salad, ham, hard boiled eggs, nuts, or seeds on top.
I don’t eat pre-cooked mashed potatoes because they contain dairy, but this is an item that my husband will eat. It does have to be heated, but other than that it’s ready to go. Be sure to read the ingredients to confirm that it’s gluten-free, but many brands are. I usually find it in the section of the grocery store near the packaged lunch meat.
There are different brands and varieties of flavored rice packets. All you have to do is microwave for about 90 seconds and it’s ready to eat. My husband and son both like some of those. They’re a super easy side dish to go along with something like a rotisserie chicken.
Fresh Fruit & Veggies
Don’t forget that fresh fruit as well as most veggies can be eaten raw. Just wash, peel if necessary, and cut or buy the pre-cut kind. You can pick up salad dressing as a dip for veggies. Fruit makes a great dessert, especially with a little whipped cream!
What quick foods do you pick up at the grocery store?