Gluten Free Meal Prep can be daunting if you're new to it. Where to begin? Start with these 10 items and you'll have healthy food all week.
As a somewhat type A person who loves to feel organized and prepared, I think meal prep is great for everyone.
But, I know from firsthand experience, it's even more important if you're gluten free. This is especially true if you're just starting out on your gluten free journey. Casually picking up takeout gets a whole lot harder if you're avoiding gluten, particularly if you live in a small town like I do.
Plus, if you've just given up gluten, or are working toward eliminating it from your diet, a lot of your standbys will no longer be options. This can feel limiting, but I promise that with just a little planning and prep, going gluten free is totally doable.
If you think of meal prep as all or nothing, it's super daunting when you're first starting out. Do you really have time to prep an entire week's meals?
Don't worry though! Even if you're not ready for a full week's worth of meal prep, even a quick meal prep session can make a big difference. Once you get the hang of that and meal prep becomes a habit, you just might find yourself doing more. There's nothing like the feeling of going into a Monday knowing you have healthy meals prepped for the busy week ahead. It's not just the time savings, but the mental relief of not having to worry about what's for dinner.
Gluten Free Meal Planning Keys to Success:
Before I share my top ten foods for gluten free meal prep, I want to give you a few tips for success. Whether you're totally new to being gluten free or just looking to up your meal prep game, these are things you can easily implement today.
Include something fun
Just because you're gluten free doesn't mean your meal plan can't be fun and delicious!
Having a homemade sauce or dressing handy can take a basic salad or grain bowl to the next level. If you enjoy snacks, taking the time to prep something a little more exciting than just fruit and nuts can also keep your meal plan exciting. If you don't love the food, it'll be hard to stick to your healthy plan!
Don't forget carbs
Unless you're intentionally trying to go low carb, make sure to include some healthy carbs in your gluten free meal prep.
Sure, there are tons of options for gluten free crackers and bread out there, but I try to stick to more whole foods most of the time. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, brown rice – these are all easy to prep and provide more stable energy than refined carbs, even the gluten free ones.
Invest in containers
If you want to stick with meal prep, investing in some quality meal prep containers is a must.
High quality glass containers keep your food so much fresher. Plus your fridge will look much more organized with a matching set than a random mish-mosh of old containers. After years of working as a personal chef, in addition to my own meal prep at home, I'm confident in my selection of the best meal prep containers out there.
Best 10 Foods for Gluten Free Meal Prep:
On to the foods! You should of course adjust this list based on your own preferences, but if you prep these ten foods, you will have plenty of delicious gluten free options around for the week.
1. Homemade Salad Dressing
While I certainly don't make everything from scratch, homemade salad dressing is a must for me.
Why? Because it's healthier, tastier and SO EASY. If I'm short on time, I just mix 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of balsamic. I like to emulsify it in the blender to make it extra creamy, but that's totally optional. If you're short on time, just give it a good shake.
When I have a little more time, I love to experiment with different combinations like my Lemon Herb Vinaigrette or Paleo Salsa Ranch.
Prepping a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week means you'll have a versatile grain handy for a variety of meals, without turning on the stove and washing a pot every time.
I love quinoa for meal prep because it's so good leftover. While rice can get dry, quinoa stays tender and delicious throughout the week.
Still, feel free to mix it up with your favorite gluten free grain!
Berries are a meal prepper's best friend because they require virtually no effort!
All you need to do is wash them and you're good to go.
If you plan on using your berries later in the week though, you may want to wait to wash them, as well as to cut the tops off of strawberries, to maximize freshness.
Other fruits that require very little prep include apples, pears and clementines. Just wash your fruit right when you get home from the grocery store. Getting that one little step out of the way makes it easy to choose fruit for a healthy snack all week.
Prepping your favorite raw veggies doesn't take long, but I promise it encourages the whole family to eat more vegetables.
Most of us don't have much time when it comes to grabbing a snack. That's why having veggies washed, chopped and ready to eat is essential!
Vary it from week to week with mini cucumbers, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, bell pepper strips or broccoli florets. You can eat these raw throughout the week or, with the exception of cucumbers, sautée them as part of a quick stir fry.
On the busiest weeks, choose things like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes! No chopping required.
5. Hard boiled eggs
Hard boiled eggs are excellent for meal prep because they're super easy, packed with protein and can easily be part of breakfast, lunch, dinner or a healthy snack! They're also quite budget-friendly.
Follow this guide for hard boiled eggs just how you like them, every time.
6. Shredded chicken
Chicken is a meal prep staple for a reason. It's a super versatile meat that goes with pretty much everything. Prepare a big batch of shredded (or grilled!) chicken every week, mixing up the spices to keep things interesting.
Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken and Slow Cooker Chicken Verde are both easy meal prep recipes for chicken.
Including a sauce in your weekly meal prep is the easiest way to ensure you'll have flavorful, non-boring meals to eat.
Pesto is one of my favorites, but chimichurri, easy romesco sauce or an almond butter dipping sauce are all fantastic gluten free options as well.
8. Roasted sweet potatoes
Roasting a big sheet pan of veggies is simple, but provides a great side or salad topping for the week. Sweet potatoes are one of my personal favorites but carrots, potatoes, Brussels or cauliflower are all delicious.
9. Diced onions
Even if you don't know how you're going to use it, dice an onion (or two!) as part of your weekly meal prep. Then you'll have it on hand to easily throw into scrambled eggs, stir fry or a soup. Onion adds so much flavor and it's much more efficient to dice it all at once at the start of the week than to get your cutting board out every day.
Check out my short video for the easiest way to dice onions. Mastering this simple skill will save you so much time in the long run!
10. Energy Bites
Okay, these aren't necessary, but I find that having a nutritious treat on-hand makes it so much easier to stick to healthy eating.
The best part is, energy bites freeze really well. Make a double batch and freeze a bunch for later.
I share more about how I come up with energy bites here, or try one of my favorite easy energy bite recipes:
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites
Gluten free muffins or a homemade popcorn mix make great gluten free meal prep extras too!
Now the Fun Part – Easy Meal Prep Recipes!
Now that you've put the hard work in and completed your meal prep for the week, what can you make?
Here are some quick ideas for easy meal prep recipes:
What if you need to prep for Gluten Free Family Dinners, not just meals for one or two?
Prepping a few ingredients works well if you're just cooking for one or two. You may feel the need for a more formal meal plan if you're cooking for a family though.
Prepping my top ten ingredients is still super helpful for breakfasts, lunches and last-minute throw-together dinners, but you'll likely need more of a plan for family dinners.
You can keep it really simple and plan protein + veg + healthy carb meals for each night of the week. If you want more variety though, I encourage you to try my Prep Dish meal prep meal plans!
We provide gluten free meal plans (in addition to paleo, low carb and “super fast” meal plans). The best part? We design the meal plans around meal prep! So subscribers receive a full prep day guide for each week, along with an organized grocery list and dish day instructions. Our meal plans help you get the most of your weekly meal prep sessions. If you're interested, sign up for a totally free trial below!