The Group Trip: Gluten Free

Surviving A Group Trip While Gluten Free

Oh, the group trip.  Are you familiar with these?  They combine the fun of exploring new places with friends with the chaos of trying to coordinate a large number of independently minded people. From my experience with group trips, the most challenging part has always been related to the food. 

What are we eating? 

Where are we going out to eat? 

Do we bulk buy a bunch of food at Costco or at the local grocery store?

What food do we buy?

Who will cook? 

Who will clean up afterwards?

What kind of appliances and tools will be in the rental kitchen?

Now, add all of the questions that an individual with various food intolerances, especially gluten, will have in addition...

Will the group meals be free of gluten/dairy/soy etc?

Could we just slightly adjust the group meals to be gluten/dairy/soy free?

What if someone doesn't understand cross contamination?

How am I going to prevent cross contamination?

What if I can't find any gluten/dairy/soy free products at the local grocery store?

Where should I make my meals?

This list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea already!

For the past ten years, my husband and his/our friends have all rented a cabin in the Lake Tahoe for a week. Two years ago was my first time on this traditional trip while eating gluten free. My plan of attack for that trip was to bring all of my own food and for the most part, cook seperatly from everyone else, as gluten-full group dinners were usually the norm. We designated a "gluten free" prep counter, cabinet shelf, refidgerator shelf, and scrubbed pots and pans diligently.  I ate a lot of rice, gluten free pasta, potatoes, and generally bland foods that were easy to make. I was able to eat just a couple of items made for the group including sweet potatoe fries and baked cabbage. My one "good" meal was the night that we cooked Picadillo for the whole group. I didn't get sick during this trip, so overall I considered it a win.

This year, I've got a couple more years of living gluten free under my belt and I'm generally a more confident cook.  So I'm uping the anty this year with special occasion type meals and things that look and taste completly delicious! So here's my plan;

1. Make meals at home and freeze them.

Specifically, pot stickers from Gluten Free Asian Kitchen, tamales, and homemade frozen pizzas topped with roasted veggies, pepperoni, and goat mozarella. I'll pair each of these with a dark green salad and a dressing from Easy Eats that I tested and I think will show up in the next issue!

2. Purchase yummy frozen baguettes from Mariposa Baking for sandwiches.

These are quite tasty when thawed and don't seem to need the toasting that most gluten free bread does. I'm going to bring some salami and roast turkey slices for these.

3. Buy most of my speciality food here in Seattle and transport it in ice filled coolers.

Depending on which roads are open our only accessible grocery store may be a Safeway and I have my doubts that they will carry things like my favorite sheep milk yogurt.

4. Carefully plan a fondue night for the whole group.

We'll be making one pot of our sheep cheese and cider fondue and three others with a standard recipe. The trick will be keeping the gluten filled baguettes and cow cheese fondue away from the gluten free baguettes and sheep cheese fondue.  Oh and keeping those pesky dipping forks from causing any cross contamination.

5. Keep breakfasts simple. 

I'm going to stick to gluten free oats, yogurt, and fruit.  While it would be lovely to have pancakes or waffles, it's just easier to stick with simpler foods.

6. Bring plenty of snacks!

I'll be making chex mix, my oatmeal carrot cookies, moravian molasses cookies, beef jerky, and bringing plenty of dried fruits and nuts.

7. Bring a couple of key items for cooking.

Specifically a small pot, a small pan, a sponge that will not be used on anything gluten-y, a wooden spoon, parchment paper, a pizza cutter, a colander, and a small to medium sized knife.