What are some gluten free shelf stable proteins and veggies?
April 22, 2014 10:00 PM   Subscribe

We are looking for shelf-stable, packaged proteins and veggies that are gluten free to go in lunches. We know about GoPicnic already, but we'd like some more variety and real vegetables of some sort! Proteins are mostly easy (spreads, dips, cheeses, jerkies), but finding the individual packed shelf stable ones are tough. We have found no veggies that fit the bill at all- we were thinking freeze dried veggies, but that sounds unappetizing and looks really expensive (also not individually packaged).
posted by Brent Parker to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For protein, how about these (tuna in a foil bag)?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:30 PM on April 22, 2014

There are shelf stable hummuses; freeze dried fruit in foul pouches isn't bad. The freeze dried veg aren't all bad; corn is the best IMO from Just Tomatoes.

While they are in bulk you can get them at fancy organic stores, maybe DIY self serve size with a meal dealer ting.
posted by tilde at 10:40 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I get Justin's nut butters from REI. I have some peabutter samples from another place. Wild Garden hummus in a package. Vegetable chips (not all that healthy, but Vitamin A source). GF granola bars. GF cookies. GF trail mix in little packages.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:13 AM on April 23, 2014

Freeze dried peas are actually really tasty. Freeze dried corn is not bad too. Avoid the tomatoes.

I've not tried the vegetables, but our Sam's Club sells coffee-can sized containers of various freeze dried fruits and vegetables (and eggs, et cetera) for the "survivalist" type crowd. My kids are big fans of the freeze dried strawberries, which are about $17 for the big coffee can, which is much cheaper than the tiny pouches you can get at the grocery store.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:24 AM on April 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I guess an obvious question is how shelf-stable do you need them to be? Because carrots are fine to be nonrefrigerated for half a day. As are other vegetables. And fruits, although apples will do better if you sprinkle a little lemon juice on them.

On the other hand, if you're trying to pack a month worth of lunches at once, or you have no refrigerator where the lunches are being made, then maybe you could consider the freeze dried veggies. But if it's just until lunchtime, that's a waste.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:28 AM on April 23, 2014

I am also confused about the fruits and vegetables -- in their natural state, they are shelf-stable enough for lunches and also gluten free. Are you looking to store them for exceptionally long periods of time?
posted by Houstonian at 4:54 AM on April 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

DIY self serve size with a meal dealer ting

I should not be posting that late from my phone.

Self serve size snack making machine (to repackage dried veg - the corn is good from Just Tomatoes, and I've liked wasabi peas from various vendors). I mean, of course, a Food Saver.

Or, for dry foods that don't have to roll around in the spare wheel well of your car or glovebox, use these reusable containers for storage.

Ready pack freeze dried fruit. Here's the stable hummus I've had.
posted by tilde at 5:59 AM on April 23, 2014

So, is an apple, banana, or orange shelf stable enough? A 5-7 days without refrigeration would be fine. Or are we talking a month in advance?

My grocery store also sells pineapple sticks, slices of apple and baggies of baby carrots that have been slightly stabilized (with citric acid and/or CO2) that come in individual packs. Again, more like 2 days without refrigeration.

Tiny cucumbers, and peppers will be fine for a day or two at room temp, and are great just eaten raw or with a dip.

If you've got a costco membership, Kirkland brand freeze dried fruit slices come in individual packs if you're talking about nearly indefinite shelf-stable.
posted by fontophilic at 6:08 AM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: When I used to go out in the woods for ten days at a time, I brought along the little squeeze packets of baby food fruit and vegetables. Some of them are really delicious. REI has started marketing them to the camping set, but I think you can get them more cheaply by buying the baby food kind. And really, you could just bring along any type of vegetable or fruit baby food in any kind of packaging. I limited myself to the squeeze packets because of weight and space in my backpack. These are all totally shelf stable.
posted by Polyhymnia at 7:05 AM on April 23, 2014

Oh yeah, my kids are wild about the GoGo Squeeze applesauce packets. Spendy, though, although you can get them cheaper at Sam's Club. (Or costco, probably, if you're lucky enough to have one near you.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: Roasted seaweed.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:53 AM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: V8 juice?

Roasted seaweed snacks?

I personally find them a little ridiculous even for babies, but they have these baby food puree pouches now, including all vegetable mixes like sweet potatoes and beets or carrots and broccoli.

The questions about how long your foods need to stay unrefrigerated is a good one, though. If you're just talking about a few hours from morning until lunchtime, any sort of raw vegetable is going to be just fine. If you need things to be factory-packed in single-serving packaging, you're kind of limited to baby carrots and maybe celery. If you can make up your own, you could do any sort of raw veggie in ziplock bags. And uncut peppers and mini peppers can go for days without refrigeration.
posted by drlith at 9:30 AM on April 23, 2014

Wasabe Peas are available gluten free.

Dried fruits, especially prunes.

Canned vegetables are primarily gluten-free. You can get marinated things like mushrooms and artichoke hearts, you can do green beans and corn and sauerkraut. Often Bogo at supermarkets and lots of coupons.

If you want something more lunchy than a can of corn, how about veggie soups. A lot of Progresso and Amy's are gluten free. V-8 is another option, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:55 AM on April 23, 2014

You'll get much more useful answers if you can tell us how shelf-stable you need the veggies, or better yet, why you want them shelf-stable in the first place (maybe there's another way to accomplish the same goals, without resorting to freeze-dried food!).

"Indefinitely" will be a very small list especially if you care about taste and nutrition - you'll be completely limited to dried or canned (or frozen, if that works for you) prepared meals or vegetables/meats, and I don't think most people would consider a can of peas and beef jerky an adequate lunch. Soups are the easiest/cheapest/tastiest option here.

"Weeks to months" adds a few options, most of which require some kind of cooking.

"Days" gives quite a few more options, and "just until lunch" opens the floor wide open.
posted by randomnity at 10:26 AM on April 23, 2014

If a microwave is available, I suggest looking into the selection of Tasty Bite foods. They make lots of varieties of shelf-stable, surprisingly yummy entrees and side dishes, some of which are gluten-free. I've picked up the channa masala, Madras lentils and pad Thai over the last year at Costco and they've all been surprisingly good.
posted by workerant at 11:27 AM on April 23, 2014

Response by poster: So the deal with shelf stable is that shopping happens once a month and they need to sit in a filing cabinet for that length of time. No refrigerator, microwave, stove, toaster oven, kettle or any other appliance is available. Not really looking for fruits, those are easily available in single serving shelf stable packaging. The key is single serving, shelf stable (around a month), vegetable (not fruit or veggies packed with sugar) or proteins. Thanks!
posted by Brent Parker at 12:51 PM on April 23, 2014

Response by poster: I mentioned in the post, GoPicnic - which if you look at the product is exactly what we are looking for except they don't have veggies and the proteins seem kind of limited. We'd like to expand on that lunch idea. That product tends to have all the items be way to sweet and we'd like some alternatives that fit in this idea of a shelf-stable lunch.
posted by Brent Parker at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: I'd try these curries room temperature.

Again, "should" reheat these beans and rice but don't have to.

How is the office layout? I'm thinking they could be warmed somewhat sitting on a windowsill in the sunshine.
posted by tilde at 12:57 PM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: And if not a window, a microwave is never available? I'm thinking heat up a couple of rice sacks (sock, rice, tie in a knot) before you go in to the place with no stuff, pick out your meal and cram it between the rice sacks to warm it marginally if there windowsill trick (or the car dashboard trick) won't cut it.

How often do you want or need to rotate? How many people are we feeding?

As for what I have actually eaten, I've done the Eden Organics beans and rice lines, getting them locally at a food store. However, 15 ounces is a lot of food, but if you can split it with a friend, or just keep the uneaten part (split into a bowl or container before eating using a clean utensil) that can be taken home that night and eaten later, it should be fine.

Some of my friends have had this rice bean thing and like it; I'm not a fan.

I've had these soups as well; like everything else, read the label for glutens. The tomatoes are good, the cheesey potato looks interesting.

This brand of chili is not bad for a prepack. Again, it says "microwave" but that's just for some heat appeal; windowsill treatment again.

And as others have noted, single serve chicken and fish packets. Mix on the day with some ready to use mayo or with some pickle relish. Hey, as long as you've got the relish out, swiss steak and hot dogs look interesting! Again, though, with the sharing of the meal with others as its less of a one-person meal.

Another thing to think about is planning. If you *know* you're going to be eating every day and you can pick some of them on the first days, you can get stuff that won't last a month - some beans and a small can of salsa with some fresh tortilla chips.
posted by tilde at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2014

There are individual serving sizes of vegetables.
posted by Houstonian at 1:54 PM on April 23, 2014

Response by poster: Also we can't just have a big jar of X and pull some of X out each day is because the food will not be eaten in proximity to the food supply. A person would just assume that a bag/box of food would work for them and feed them for lunch without any hassle - grab and go. Much like an MRE, but w/o the heater. I've thought about MRE's too, but they give off a camping/military vibe that would make them a hard sell - I know that they are good, I've eaten a few of the new ones.

Houstonian, those would be perfect if they weren't frozen.
posted by Brent Parker at 2:11 PM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: I didn't realize those were frozen. See Libby's take on the same idea might not be frozen -- I think they are like the applesauce containers. They say, "Now get your tasty, healthy veggies on the go, in lunch boxes, for picnics--anywhere" which sounds hopeful.

There are canned versions, too, although I think they are a bit bigger that the ones linked above. They are just smaller cans, over in the canned vegetable aisle of the grocery store. It's mostly the usual suspects - corn, green beans, mixed vegetables, peas.... Most open with a pull-tab, so you don't need a can opener.
posted by Houstonian at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2014

I was just at HEB, so I looked for the Libby's vegetables. They are not stocked there, but they do have the half-size cans of vegetables on the shelf.
posted by Houstonian at 4:45 PM on April 23, 2014

You can dehydrate your own fruits and veggies if you get a food dehydrator. You can also dehydrate many veggies into snacky things like corn chips or cauliflower popcorn or potato/sweet potato chips. I haven't tried the cauliflower popcorn yet, but all the rest have been very tasty. If you look around at raw food sites that use dehydrators, there are tons of ideas out there, and most of them are gluten free.
posted by freezer cake at 5:04 PM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: Depending on where and how adventurous you are, I would recommend you check out some ethnic grocers. They tend to have more interesting shelf ready items. An East-Asian grocer would have for example: dried seaweed, dried tropical fruits (jackfruit, gogli berries, mango, longan), rice/soy snacks, mung bean jellies, etc.
posted by jyorraku at 8:49 PM on April 23, 2014

Found some more while putting together an Amazon order ...

Rice and curry ready to eat
posted by tilde at 8:48 AM on April 30, 2014

Sorry! Lots more Indian food pouches!
posted by tilde at 7:08 PM on April 30, 2014

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