Five Easy Gluten-Free Meals You Can Make While Traveling

By Jennifer Fitzpatrick from The Nomadic Fitzpatricks

Traveling with celiac disease can be a very daunting task. 

Being away from your own kitchen, your go-to safe restaurants, and your favorite brands, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of your element. Restaurants, cafes, diners, and cafeterias all vary when it comes to safety around the world. It can be extremely stressful and scary to find a safe place to eat when traveling.

It’s why staying in an accommodation with a kitchen can make all the difference.

When you have a kitchen available to you, and when you are in control of your food, it eliminates the fear. The questions of “Where will I eat” or “What will I eat that’s safe” are gone. And by packing a few items in your suitcase to prevent cross-contact, you’ll be able to travel to where your heart desires, and prevent yourself from getting sick while exploring a new place.

What to Pack

Staying in an airbnb, hotel, or rental home that has a kitchen available to you will offer you peace of mind when traveling. While most kitchens will have the tools you need to make basic meals, there are a few items you can pack to prevent cross-contact in a kitchen that isn’t your own.

Please note that everyone’s sensitivities to gluten are different. We each have our own comfort levels and you should evaluate this list based on your own needs. What one person may need for cooking in a kitchen that isn’t theirs can vary from one celiac to the next. Every diagnosis is unique.

General Items

  • Aluminum Foil or Silicone Baking Mat: Use this to place on baking sheets and pans, or to cover food( foil) when not using.
  • Reusable Plate & Utensils: Great for being on the go, picnics, campfires, or for lunches when you are out and about.
  • Sponge: Sponges can trap gluten. Bring a clean one or one from home for washing your dishes!
  • Oil, salt, pepper: The basics for cooking anything! A small bottle of olive oil or coconut oil, as well as a salt and pepper grinder go a long way in most easy recipes.

If you are extremely sensitive to cross-contact, feel more comfortable doing so, or are already in the habit of packing separate cookware, these are some other items you may want to consider.

  • Wooden Spoon. Rather than use one at your accommodation, bring one from home. It’s small and easy to pack.
  • Collapsible Pot/Colander: Camping equipment is a celiac’s best friend. Try bringing a collapsible colander, or a 2-in-1 pot/colander where you can cook pasta and strain at the same time.
  • Small Frying Pan: You can bring one from home that’s small, or bring a collapsible one that folds easily.

Learn more about minimizing cross-contact in shared kitchens in Tayler’s Cross-Contact Workbook!

When You Arrive

When arriving at your lodging, make sure to wash cooking utensils, pots, pans, and dishes before cooking. Also, check to see how everything is stored in the kitchen, and rearrange to make sure no cross-contact takes place.

Here are five easy meals you can make gluten-free and how to make them safely!

Rice Bowls/Tacos

Tacos are always an easy option and are very customizable. If you can’t find taco shells or tortillas, you can opt for having rice bowls, which are very filling.

Choose a protein base that you prefer, such as ground beef, turkey, fish, or a vegetarian alternative, like chickpeas. Sauté in your frying pan over medium heat with salt, pepper, and oil until tender and cooked through. Or, you can use chicken or turkey breasts, and cook in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.  

If you would rather make taco bowls with a rice base, you can find rice available in most market. Cook it on the stove in the pot you brought for an easy base. In some larger supermarkets, you can also find instant rice, or individual pre-cooked rice that just requires reheat in the microwave.

Toppings for tacos vary and have a lot of flexibility. You can sauté additional vegetables on the stovetop such as peppers and onions, or opt for simpler choices, such as lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, hot sauce, avocado, corn, sour cream, or chiles.

Eggs

Eggs are extremely versatile and useful for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are commonly found all over the world. 

Eggs can be a quick meal in many forms, including scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelettes, or even avocado toast. You can also cook a frittata or a Spanish tortilla if you have an oven available to you. Eggs provide a lot of protein and can be a useful side dish to keep you full until your next meal.  

You can make scrambled eggs and serve them with toast, potatoes, avocado, or pancakes. A frittata or an omelette can be stuffed full with protein like ham or chicken, and vegetables like peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and cheeses of all kinds. A Spanish tortilla, stuffed with potatoes, can be had for a meal with gluten-free bread, ham, cheese, fresh fruit, or salad.

Protein & Veggies

Pick a protein that’s fresh, safe, and available where you are staying, such as chicken breast, sausages, turkey, tofu, tempeh, or even chickpeas. To go with the protein, choose vegetables that are in season or readily available. The softer the flesh, the quicker the vegetables will cook.  Try peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions, yellow squash, or tomatoes. If you don’t mind cooking them longer, carrots, potatoes, and other firmer vegetables like parsnips and sweet potatoes work too. 

Dice everything up into even size chunks. In a large frying pan over medium heat, pour in cooking oil and cook protein & vegetables together until cooked through, or tender. Season with salt & pepper or other herbs and spices of choice. You can also opt to cook everything in the oven using a baking sheet lined with foil or your silicone baking mats.

Salads

Don’t feel like cooking? Make a big salad!

Salads provide versatility and plenty of options to be customized for everyone. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your lettuce before serving, and then have fun with toppings!

Cook some protein in the oven or on the stovetop and make a cobb salad with chicken, bacon, cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Opt for a Greek salad with olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, and lots of olive oil. Other options include taco salads, chicken salad, or even fruit salad. Use the cooking oil you brought from home as a dressing, or add in some lemon juice for extra flavor.

Gluten-Free Pasta

Gluten-free pasta can be found all over the world, but it’s easy to pack your own from home. It’s quick to cook and with lots of shapes, tastes, and dishes. Choose a pasta you like and cook on the stovetop in your 2-in-1 pot/colander for a hearty meal. 

You can buy jarred sauces in grocery stores, like tomato sauce, vodka sauce, or pesto. Opt to make your own and use oil and garlic with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Add in some sautéed vegetables like zucchini and peppers to make it more filling. Top with grated cheese, or even protein like chicken or ground beef as well. 

No matter where your travels take you, if you stay somewhere with a kitchen close by, you can cook your own meals and know they are safe for you to eat. Cooking at home doesn’t have to stop when you choose to explore somewhere else. Invest in a lodging space that has a kitchen available, and by bringing a few items from home, you can have safe and tasty gluten-free meals wherever you travel!

Looking for more great recipes? Find 75+ gluten-free recipes here, with an entire section devoted to travel-inspired recipes, like naan, pad thai, empanadas, fried rice, and more!