Planning a Gluten Free Weekend Away

Gluten Free Traveling Stash
Recipe for Disaster:
3 nights away from home
3 people that need to eat gluten free
a big Italian family supper
a rehearsal dinner
a wedding reception
and a toddler without a schedule

Combine all ingredients with an incredibly supportive family, generous Italian hospitality, helpful restaurant staffs, a stash of gluten free good and a mini-kitchen to create a long weekend of wedding celebrations that was not a disaster at all. Here’s how we did it:To set the stage John, David and I spent the weekend in Memphis to celebrate my brother’s wedding. The main events for the weekend were an”Italian Family Supper” hosted by the bride’s parent on Thursday night, the bridesmaid’s luncheon at an Italian restaurant on Friday, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (Cajun restaurant) on Saturday night, and the wedding and wedding reception on Saturday.

My main concerns regarding food and the weekend were (1) having enough food to feed us if there were no gluten free foods at the scheduled events and (2) making sure that John and David had easy gluten free food options if I was not around to cook. I definitely wanted to avoid urgent trips to the bathroom due to a glutening and a hungry, screaming toddler =)

The Plan
To make sure none of us starved or got sick we took a multi-pronged approach to the problem:

  1. We carried a crate a lot of gluten free foods with us. (more details on that below)
  2. We stayed at a hotel that had a mini-kitchen in the room.
  3. We talked to the restaurants in advance and requested gluten free, vegetarian meals and provided any gluten free ingredients they needed.
  4. We shipped our own gluten free pasta to my new sister-in-law’s mother who very generously made us our own gluten free baked ziti.

The general plan was to make our own breakfasts and lunch in our room and carry plenty of snacks and sandwiches in our diaper bag just in case the evening meals weren’t gluten free. We packed a Whole Foods crate with non-perishable items (see picture above) and gluten free muffins and bread that I baked the day before we left. I also took my rice cooker just in case we really needed to cook a hot meal. We probably only ate about half of the food we took, but I’ll go ahead and give you a list of all the things we could have eaten:

Breakfasts:
Grits (quick-cooking)
Fresh Fruit
Rice Chex with Silk*
Pumpkin muffins*

Snacks:
Trail Mix*
Tamari Rice Crackers with peanut butter
Banana slices*
Orange slices
Apple slices dipped in peanut butter*
Chips with salsa and refried beans
Pumpkin muffins*
Raisins
Juice*

Lunch:
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich*
Peanut Butter & Apple Sandwich
(All sandwiches were made on slices of Finally Really Good Sandwich Bread)
Brown Rice with mixed vegetables
Silk or Juice to drink

*These are the items that were super popular

In the end, we made it through the entire weekend without being glutened and we all had plenty of food ( as well as great times with friends and family). There were definitely times when we scraped together a meal from several sources, so I was glad that we had brought plenty of food with us.

Notes for next time:

  1. Check to see what the hotel serves for breakfast. David and I were able to eat from the hot breakfast bar each morning, so we never used the grits or most of the fresh fruit that we brought. John wasn’t up to breakfast with the extended family each morning, so he got his breakfast foods out of our box.
  2. Google “gluten free Memphis” to find tips on gluten free restaurants in the area. We ended up eating at restaurants for lunch on several days and it would have been nice to have had a list of places that have gluten free menus. Instead we ate at any restaurant that was convenient and managed to put together decent meals once we combined what we ordered with the food we had stashed in the diaper bag.
  3. Always have gluten free bread on hand. Gluten free bread is handy, especially when it holds up as well as the Finally Really Good Sandwich Bread that I took with us. Peanut butter sandwiches kept David happy for lunch and we were able to order sandiches without bread from McAlister’s and make our own gluten free sandwiches on the fly.

I could have gone into a lot more detail on some of these items, so if you have any questions or would like more information just let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear how you plan for gluten free vacations with your family. We’ll probably do a camping trip and a beach trip during the summer, so any tips and ideas would be appreciated.

Comments

  1. Great post Mary Frances!! I can so relate to this! I need to do a post like this on EMERGENCY trips… what do you pack then when you aren’t prepared? I’ve had to take a lot of these trips lately and my diet has suffered because of them! I’m almost thinking I need a smaller, but similar box on hand for emergencies!

  2. Kristina says:

    When John and I travel, we always take cooked rice and packaged Indian food with us- that way if we need a meal in a pinch, we have what we need. Obviously, the food is better warmed up, but you can take room temp rice and open up a pack of Indian food and dump it in. The brand of Indian food we use is called “Kitchens of India.” The company was really helpful and e-mailed me a list of their GF products. If you’re into Indian food, and can find the brand in your area, let me know and I’ll forward you their list!

  3. Great post. I just returned from a week of travel and realized 1) i’ve learned a lot in 4 months and for the most part did just fine and 2) i’m still confused on the sandwich bread thing. I made a loaf of bread to take with me, which baby (toddler) girl and I enjoyed on the airplane…but by day 2/3 I wouldn’t make a sandwich with it unless I could toast it. But if I’m packing a sandwich, I don’t want to need to toast it. Does your bread really taste just fine on day 3 as a room temp sandwich? If so, how does that work? Thanks!!!

  4. Just wanted to say I’ve felt that pain! It’s good that we have options (I usually pack lots of raw veggies and hummus) but it’s also a bit isolating and a lot of extra work! :)

  5. Hi – I used to fly 2-3 times/month for work, and learned to get Very Creative with the coffee maker in my hotel room! (Basically anything that can be made with hot water can be mixed up in the coffee urn, including instant grits, warmed soup, Thai noodle entrees.) In addition, I’d pack fresh fruits and vegies with tougher exteriors(oranges, carrots, celery especially) along with hard-boiled eggs in my suitcase; and bring g-f snacks with me in my carry-on so I wouldn’t be tempted by the airplane pretzels while waiting on the tarmac.

  6. Kristina, that’s a great idea! We tried some of the Indian packaged food a few weeks ago and it was pretty good. We even found already cooked rice in a similar package – it just called for reheating in the microwave.

  7. Cris,
    I made the bread on Wednesday and we made the last sandwich on Sunday without toasting it. One piece had gotten a bit moldy (and we threw it away) but the pieces we used didn’t fall apart and were only a little dry. I sliced the bread before we left and just put the slices into zipper style plastic bags. What was your bread like by day 3?

  8. Jill, that is awesome. I would never have thought to use the carafe of the coffee pot.

  9. Hey Mary Frances! Your blog looks great!!!
    Cris- Does your bread use cornstarch? I swear cornstarch makes gluten free things go stale faster than tapioca or arrowroot. Just a hypothesis! Also I think Mary Frances has a great system for storing her bread too. Where did you buy that container for the bread, Mary?

  10. That’s really interesting about the cornstarch. I did use it. I’ll have to experiment with your hypothesis. Hmmm. And so far no storage system beyond foil and ziplock. Something else to think about.

  11. Natalie and Cris,

    Here is the breadkeeper that we use. It has a handy slicing guide, which we really enjoy. I put the bread in this and then put the whole thing into the refrigerator.

  12. Now imagine you have a son ready to go to college in September. You have prepared him to fend for himself after a lifetime of teaching him about cooking and ordering foods free of his allergens, diagnosed when he was 4: Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, shellfish.
    It is May, and you are thinking he is having an appendicitis, but no. A cat scan reveals some interesting dynamics going on, so it is back to NYC to see his allergist. This week, early June, he is diagnosed with Celiac disease. He is terribly down about losing his newfound freedom, we all are hurting for him.
    A lifetime of coping and teaching thrown out the window, to be reinvented in 2 1/2 months.
    What kind of a care kit do you send along, now? We have been to our local health/gourmet store to buy and try one of everything. A very small bag for someone with all of his no-nos. And half of that he finds inedible. We toasted the bread forever and it wouldn’t brown. The cookies left so much grit in our mouths, we had to go brush. The crackers were great with hummus, though…eureeka!
    I bought flours, but wasn’t entirely sure which were gluten free: Buckwheat? Rye? Spelt? We discovered many old favorites were lost to us…even his sweet and spicy mustard.
    The cookbooks weren’t worth the price when vegans use so many nuts and non-vegans can use eggs and dairy to improve texture, add flavor and provide the glue and leavening.
    I am very grateful to have found your site! I will be visiting often!

  13. Ann, I feel sure you’ll find that all of the teaching you’ve done over the years will help your son cope with this new challenge. It is definitely frustrating at first to spend money on products that don’t work for you; hopefully he’ll find some products quickly. As far as the flours go, buckwheat is gluten free, but rye and spelt are not. For a cookbook, I’d suggest Joy of Cooking…it’s a great cooking text and many of the recipes (especially for meals) are naturally gluten free.

  14. Ann

    The library is a new gluten free persons best friend in my opinion. Mine will order my requests that they don’t have. Everyone seems to start with Bette Hagman books because she was first and there’s alot of them. My current favourite GF baking book is Gluten-free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. Every recipe I’ve used has been successful. Her website is http://www.foodphilosopher.com. There are lots of good recipes on her site.
    When you are just getting started the best bet is probably buying a mix for baking like Bob’s Red Mill or Authentic foods. Recipezaar has lots of gluten free baking recipes. Grocery stores carry cornstarch, rice flour, tapioca, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, potato starch that can all be used as flours in baking. In a coffee grinder you can grind millet and quinoa.
    Chia is the best egg replacer on the market. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals as well. Flax is a good egg replacer as well.

  15. We flew across the country for a week in May with a four year old and an adult that are sensitive to gluten, dairy, corn, soy and nightshades.
    We took two loaves of multigrain bread, 12 gf banana oat muffins, gf oatmeal peanut butter cookies, a pound of gf spagetti, an electric frying pan and a toaster. We hit a grocery store on the first night and bought a styrofoam cooler. We ate muffins or toast with peanut butter and jam for breakfast, salads with tuna or chicken for lunches and we made gf spagetti and gf chicken rice a roni for dinners. We had made the same trip the year before without knowing about the sensitivities and we ate much better the second time.
    Next time we intend to slice one of the loaves of bread very thin and bake it until it is like rye crisp texture. It is great as crackers and keeps much better this way.