How To Plan A Gluten-Free Menu In 6 Easy Steps

by lydia on April 26, 2014

One of the best ways to have success with starting a gluten-free lifestyle is to MENU PLAN! In fact menu planning will help keep you on track with healthy eating in general. Not to mention, it will save you time, stress and money!

Today, I’m sharing 6 Easy Steps that you can implement into your weekly regime. Meal plans help you conquer those overwhelming fears that come with a new way of life. Eating gluten-free doesn’t have to be complicated AT ALL!

How To Plan A Gluten-Free Menu

1. Learn How To Read Labels

If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle it will be important to know all of the forms gluten comes in. It may seem overwhelming at first, but I promise it does get easier in time. For a list of ingredients to avoid on a gluten-free diet, please refer to this article or this one; The Names & Sources of Gluten. Print those out and keep a copy either on your fridge or in a folder with the rest of your meal planning information.

For a list of ingredients to avoid on a gluten-free diet, please refer to this article or this one; The Names & Sources of Gluten….

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2. Compile A Recipes List

Now it’s time to create a list of all of your families favorite recipes. Perhaps you have a base of core go-to recipes that your family loves. The good news is, you don’t have to completely change everything overnight, simply find a gluten-free version and replace the old recipe with the new one. Once you’ve got all your core recipes replaced, you can spend time finding NEW recipes to try. The internet is wonderful for this, as is Pinterest. Don’t forget good ole Google too!

Here are a few of my favorite resources for healthy gluten-free recipes.

3. Gather Your Resources

Now it’s time to gather your resources to help the meal planning process go as smoothly as possible.

First, I like to use a printable meal plan template. I print out 4 at a time and date them at the top for each month. I keep them on my clipfolio (see one here) and at the end of the month I take them off and place them inside to refer to later on. I also keep printed out recipes that I am currently planning on making in the folio. Eventually, I transfer it all to a binder divided into the months of the year. That way when I’m planning the following year, I’ve got some meal plans ready to use again if choose. Plus, I’ve got a plethora of tried and true recipes (keep the core recipes in their own section, these are recipes that work year round). Any recipe that gets only a couple thumbs up, gets tossed (keep in mind there are 5 of us to appease). There is also a note pad in my clipfolio that I can use to create a basic shopping list or take notes on.

Several great resources I’ve used to help me streamline my meal planning are;

4. Take Inventory

Now you need to take inventory of everything in your kitchen pantry/cupboards, fridge and freezer. Type it all up into a document and print it out to add to your planning ‘folio’. Every time you plan your next shopping trip you can add or delete items as necessary. This helps you keep account of everything you have on hand. It saves you from buying things you don’t need, and helps you to try to use what you have on hand when you plan your meals. It only takes a few minutes of time each week once you’ve done your first entire inventory.

5. Create a Master Shopping List

Next up, is to make a list of all of the basic food staples  your family uses in a given month. Create a Master list of the items you regularly buy each month along with the prices – make it into a computer document for easier editing. Print it out and keep it with your planning ‘folio’. This helps me to calculate my budget and also stay in budget. It also helps me as I shop to buy items in bulk to keep the costs down. Another nice thing about the master list is that it streamlines the whole menu planning process. Here is an example of my own Master Shopping List. Once you have this saved on your computer in a document, it’s easy to tweak it as necessary.

6. Check Your Family Calendar

My last tip when meal planning is to take a look at your family calendar before you choose your meals. The reason for this is simple. Let’s say on Tuesday you have a baseball game in the evening, that night you will need to make something easy for dinner. So perhaps that should be a slow cooker night. Or, you have a meeting on Friday morning and won’t have time to make breakfast. Maybe that would be a good morning to put a smoothie on the menu. I know some people do not like to meal plan so concisely for each day, it’s still good to know what types of meals you should account for your upcoming week. Say you really wanna try a new gluten-free lasagna recipe, but it takes a lot of prep. It will be critical to know what day you will actually have time to fit that in.

(Download Your Free Printable Meal Plan Template Here)

Meal Plan Template


Last but not least, fill in your menu plan and stick to it. Turn it into a weekly or bi-weekly, or even monthly habit. Once you practice this you’ll be able to streamline the process to work for your families needs. This will save so much stress in the long run, I promise. Want more on healthy meal planning principles? <—Click Link!

Just so you can see an example, check out the image below for a gluten-free meal plan.

Gluten-Free Meal Plan

What Steps Do You Take To Ensure Meal Planning Is A Success?

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