(This post probably contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)
If you are struggling with “cheap but gluten free for lunch on the go”, I have the answer for you
I don’t know what to call this post to make people want to read it. Which is frustrating, because if you live a busy gluten free life (or have a husband who does) you NEED to read this. Cheap, healthy, gluten free lunch on the road is HARD.
Our horrible, no good, very bad dilemma
When G was first diagnosed with colitis and given his strict grain free diet, we were stuck between a VERY big rock and VERY hard place. He works out of a truck. Sometimes he doesn’t even see a restaurant… but let’s face it. Even if he did, a restaurant meal a day (especially of the gluten free variety) is gonna get pretty expensive pretty quick.
Say he spent 10 bucks a day on lunch. 10 x 5 = 50, with about 50 weeks of work per year… 50 x 50 = $2500.00!
(And I’m being pretty conservative with my 10 dollar lunch there.)
Not to mention his diet was so limited at the begging, there was almost nothing available in the average restaurant he could eat anyway. Even raw vegetables had to be limited as his stomach healed… (raw veggies can be hard to digest). Because of his peanut allergy and the fact that ALL grains were out, we couldn’t even send him a granola bar or two… (until we found the awesome hemp heart bars from Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods ♥).
That basically left him with a gluten free lunch of cold steamed veggies or an apple and cold rice or quinoa in a rice wrap. (For anyone who doesn’t know what a rice wrap is you’re not missing much, according to G. They are paper thin rice sheets that you soak in hot water and then can wrap around filling… they are rubbery and sticky and taste like not much.)
Once I suggested that he plug a small microwave into his truck. He explained to me that a truck battery can’t actually power a microwave. Go figure.
Basically, he was starving most of the time (when there was no restaurants around) and he was wasting tons of money the rest of time. When he’d get frustrated and just eat what was available, he’d get sick. Aside from quitting his job we actually couldn’t come up with how he could continue this way. He lost 14 pounds in the first three months (he didn’t have 14 pounds to lose, if you’re wondering).
The Solution to all G’s gluten free lunch Problems
I was sort of complaining, sort of just expressing how truly bad I felt for G to my mom one day, when she came up with the most brilliant idea I have ever heard.
It was a recycled idea… years ago my dad was also on a strict diet. He’s a trucker, and always on the road. My mom would buy those little foil take out containers from big supply stores and make him meals, freeze them, and he would cook them in this funky little plug in lunch box in his truck.
It heats to 300 degrees and it can heat food FROM FROZEN! Much faster if you remember to thaw the food first tho. 😉 And it only requires 12 volts. So not the same as a microwave.
She figured it must still be around somewhere, and we could borrow it if it worked. We dug it out, cleaned it up, I spent one Saturday shopping, cooking and freezing. And G put his 14 pounds back on.
I was hesitant about having to buy the tinfoil take out containers to make the meals in, cus a) they seem wasteful and b) they felt like money down the drain.
But you do what you gotta do, when your husband’s pants are falling off and he’s unhappy and hungry all the time, and gluten free lunch is ruining his life.
Can you imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I calculated the cost of the meals I was making, including the price of the containers, and almost all of them came to between 2 and 3 bucks each!?
PLUS, in one massive Saturday afternoon of cooking, I can put enough meals in the freezer that I don’t have to THINK about his lunches for another 3 months.
If you have a hubby (or yourself) that spends their time on the road and is stuck on a limited diet or if you just want to save a BUNDLE of cash on gluten free lunch on the road, or eat healthier in general, you NEED one of these plug in lunch box stoves. I wanted to write this post for a while but I didn’t actually know if these things were available anymore, and the whole post is sort of null if you can’t get your hands on one. But you TOTALLY can! This is the exact one that we have now (well, this one is cleaner than ours).
And these are the little foil take out containers we use. They look small but they hold more than enough food for lunch.
If you are interested in the recipes I use when I make these lunches please let me know! I will make them available to anyone who is interested 🙂 Looking for more easy gluten free inspiration? Check out this list of gluten free staples I NEED in my house for “instant dinners” – cus frozen pizza is just not an option anymore!