10 Tips for Making Fast and Easy Gluten-Free Meals

Do you like to cook, or is it a necessary evil?

For me it can go either way.  I love to cook, but there are days that I’m just not into it or don’t have the time. 

Here are my “not in the mood today” tips to help you get easy gluten-free meals on the table without a whole lot of fuss.

easy gluten free meals pin.  Cast iron skillet with creamy whitefish and bean gratin.

1. Take the Prep Off the Table

Meal Prep: chopped rainbow chard, butternut squash, red onion, spice.

Ever watch those TV chefs and their “15 minute meals” ?   

The reason those recipes take you and I more time is that those chefs have the prep all done in advance. 

Take that prep off the table and make easy gluten-free meals with convenient products like these:*

  • Bagged or boxed salad greens
  • Fresh or frozen sliced veggies
  • Cooked shredded chicken
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Big pre-made salad from the deli
  • Baby potatoes
  •  Gluten-free canned beans
  • Jarred minced garlic
  • Frozen diced onions

Anything that saves you knife work will also save you time. 

*Always check labels to ensure there is no added gluten.

Meal prep: pre-cut broccolli
Meal prep: pre-cut butternut squash

2. Make Extra – Leftovers are Your Friends

Leftovers get a bad rap, but I think they are the best time saver. 

You’re cooking anyway, so why not make extra and save yourself some time tomorrow or the next day, or even next week or next month? 

Here are 3 ways to make your leftovers work for you:

Easy gluten-free meals: roast beef on a gluten free bun with grainy mustard and feta cheese and a side salad.Leftover steak sautéed with mushrooms and onions. Served on a gluten-free bun with grainy mustard, mayo and a side salad.

Weekly Clean Out the Fridge Nights

There's nothing wrong with pulling every container out of the fridge one night a week and letting everyone make up their own microwave meal. 

My Mom called this “clean out the fridge night".  It’s a great time and sanity saver for those crazy nights when you’re late getting home from work, kids need to be chauffeured to their activities and cooking is not happening.  

Use Leftovers as Ingredients

Leftovers can be the basis of a whole new and simple and scrumptious gluten-free dinner. 

  • Last night’s roast chicken can be tonight’s chicken pot pie
  • Thinly sliced steak can be added to a stir fry or pasta sauce or on top of a salad. 
  • Baked beans make a great vegetarian taco. 
  • Leftover mashed potatoes can top a shepherd’s pie or make potato farls. 
  • Roast potatoes and root veggies are awesome in a frittata. 
  • Last night’s green beans or carrots can go into tonight’s stir fry.   

Just stick your head in the fridge and see what sparks your imagination.

Meals From the Freezer

The  biggest complaint I hear about leftovers is that we get tired of the same thing after a few days. Freeze it and go back to it later when you have a craving. 

  • Big pot meals like stews, curry, chilli  and homemade soups can be frozen in individual serving sized containers.
  • Casserole type dishes freeze well.  Think lasagna, shepherd’s pie or mac and cheese.  Make 2 and freeze one. 

What could be easier than pulling a ready made gluten-free meal out of the freezer and sticking it in the oven or microwave?

3. Time Saving Appliances

I’m not a big fan of filling the cupboard with lots of small appliances that you’ll never use.  But, a few carefully chosen items can be big time savers. 

Indoor Grill

steak on an indoor grill

The most used appliance in my kitchen next to the stove top is the indoor grill.  Grilled meats are healthy and so simple and fast.  You can grill a small steak in 4 - 7 minutes, a chicken breast in 6 - 10 or a hamburger in about 5.

Crock Pot

When the kids were small and both of us worked full time the crock pot got a work out several times a week. 

Do all the prep the night before then turn it on in the morning and you’ll come home to the smell of dinner waiting for you to dish it up.  It’s like having a personal chef who does the cooking while you’re at work and has dinner ready when you walk in the door.

Immersion blender

You may already have a blender, but for soups and sauces the immersion blender is a huge time saver. 

You blend right in the pot.  There's no pouring back and forth.  There's no hot liquid blowing up in your face when you forget to take the little handle thingy out of the lid.  (Yes that actually happened in chef school.)

Instant pot

I don’t own one of these but I have a few friends who swear by them.

Instant pots are a fairly recent invention but if they were around when I was raising my family I’d have been all over it. I think it would have given the crock pot some stiff competition.

Here are some instant pot recipes for you to try*.

*These are not my recipes.  Most are naturally gluten-free or easily converted.  

4.  One Pan Dinners

Easy Gluten-Free Meals: cast iron pan with creamy fish and bean dish.  Handle held by red oven mitt.Baked Whitefish with Kidney beans and Pecorino Romano cheese. Converted from Jamie Oliver's "Golden Parmesan Fish Bake"

Making everything in one pan saves time cooking and especially saves time cleaning up. 

Investing in a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven will simplify your life immeasurably.  You can even cook your rice in the same pan. 

Here are some easy gluten-free meal ideas to get you started.

  • Braised pork chop with rice and frozen peas and carrot blend
  • Whitefish with rice and beans
  • Chicken thighs with rice and pineapple

5. Let the Oven Do the Cooking


Sheet pan meals, roasts,  and braises are easy and delicious.  Stick the pan in the oven, set the timer and walk away.  

Cooking time may be 45 min to an hour, but you’re not doing anything during that time.  Have a shower, check on the kids’ homework, do a quick tidy or just relax for a few minutes after a long day.  Then pull dinner out of the oven and serve. 

Here are some easy ideas to try.

Here are some sheet pan recipes for you to try.*

*These are not my recipes. Most are naturally gluten-free or easily converted. 

6.  Go Meatless

Overhead view of gluten=free fusilli with tomato sauce and shredded cheese.

Yes you need protein in your diet.  No it doesn’t always have to come from meat. 

We eat more meat than we need and probably more than is healthy.  Consider going meatless one day a week to simplify and cut the cost

Try these ideas:

  • pasta with a simple jarred sauce and a green salad
  • baked beans with toast and coleslaw
  • rice and black beans with steamed vegetables
  • veggie stir fry with tofu and rice 

7. Leave Out the Starch

Plate with grilled salmon with side of veggies and mushroom sauce.Grilled salmon with veggie and tofu stir-fry.

Kind of the opposite of number 6 but you can totally do easy gluten-free meals with just a protein and a vegetable. It's healthy, simple, filling and keto friendly.  Here are a few ideas:

  •  Grilled steak and a green salad
  • Grilled chicken breast with steamed carrot and broccoli
  • Grilled pork chop with frozen Brussels sprouts, steamed or sautéed
  • Baked chicken leg with sautéed green beans and peppers
  •  Stir fried veggies with diced chicken or tofu

8.  Learn to Cook Without a Recipe

Don't know where to start?  Consider taking a class. 

You can find something online or your local community college likely has cooking classes for beginners.  You can sign up and have some fun.  Take a friend or maybe make one there. 

It doesn't have to be a gluten-free cooking class. Your teacher can help you with substitutions.  All you need is a little confidence and you'll be making your own easy gluten-free meals in no time.

Recipes schmecipes. 

Once you learn the basics of gluten free cooking you'll find you can look in the fridge or pantry and come up with something interesting and tasty.  There are just a few basic techniques for cooking meat and vegetables.  Learn them and you can use them over and over with different ingredients.

  • Grill: steak, chicken breast, pork chop, hamburger, fish.
  • Stir fry: steak, chicken, pork, tofu or veggies
  •  Stews: beef, chicken, hamburger (chilli), fish.
  •  Roast or bake: roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken, baked fish, baked chicken breast.
  • Same with veggies:  you can steam them, roast them, chop them up and eat them raw (we call it salad) or sauté them in oil.

With these tools in your belt meal time becomes a fun exercise in creativity instead of something to dread. 

9.  Eggs for Dinner Isn't Weird

scrambled-egg-taco.jpgScrambled egg tacos

One word of caution, next to dairy, eggs are one of the more common food intolerances that go along with celiac disease.  Go here for more on  celiac and other food intolerances

Eggs may just be the perfect food.  They are high in protein, iron, Vitamin A, D, E and a host of minerals.  Eggs make a great meat substitute and they are quick and easy to prepare. 

Don’t worry about cholesterol.  There is absolutely no correlation between the number of eggs consumed and heart disease1

A frittata makes a simple and delicious gluten-free dinner and is a great way to use up leftover veggies and meat. 

Or why not just scramble up a big pan-full of eggs and top with some grated cheddar.  Add a side of steamed broccoli and a slice of gluten free whole grain toast.  What could be better?  Try some of these ideas:

  • Frittata with a side salad
  •   Poached eggs on a soft tortilla with tomato and avocado
  • Scrambled eggs in a gluten free wrap or taco shell
  •  Spanish omelet with steamed frozen veggies

10.  Recycle Your Recipes

Saving the best for last. My absolute favorite time and stress saving easy gluten-free meal tip – recycle your recipes. 

Pick a few recipes that you like, memorize them, and stick with them. 

You may think your family will get bored, but they won’t. We humans crave structure and predictability and the family will like it too.  If your week looks more or less the same they will know what to expect and will start to look forward to the meal of the day. When you get bored, then you can learn a new recipe and add it to the rotation.

Consider This Easy Gluten-Free Meal Plan

I remember growing up, my mom always cooked something special on Sunday because she had the time.  This was the day we’d have a roast beef or pork or chicken with all the fixings. 

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were simple meals and Thursday was “clean out the fridge day” where we would finish up all the leftovers from the week.  It was like a buffet where you could choose whatever you wanted from the bowls on the counter. 

Friday was takeout day.  It was a treat for us and Mom’s day off.  She’d worked hard all week and we enjoyed being able to leave the healthy home cooking behind to enjoy pizza or burgers. 

Consider the plan below as a guide then make one that will work for you and your family.*

sample easy gluten free meal plan.  Monday roast day, Tuesday pasta, Wednesday grill day, Thursday clean out the fridge day, Saturday oven bake day.

 *If you have a takeout place near you that you trust to make a safe gluten free meal.  If not, go with tacos or burgers at home.   Go here to find tips for safe restaurant dining.

Let Me Know What You Think

I'd love to hear if you enjoyed this tips and found them helpful.  I'd love to hear your suggestions too.  What are your go to  "easy gluten-free meals"?  Go here to join the conversation.

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1. MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Eggs and cholesterol: What to know. Medical News Today. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/are-eggs-bad-for-cholesterol#are-eggs-unhealthy

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