Dear Supermarkets: please can we have some more?

At the weekend one of my followers, Daniel (@GlasgowOsteo), sent me a tweet voicing his frustration at the lack of premade, no-cook, gluten-free lunch options at supermarkets.

I RT’d the observation, and although Kevin of the Gluten Free by the Sea blog pointed out that GF sandwiches are now available at M&S, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, and one or two other suggestions were forthcoming, I was left with the feeling that this was more of a problem to coeliacs than I’d previously appreciated.

Another follower, Elaine (@Eisie), wrote: “We GF tweeps should draw up a wishlist of food developments in 2013 – eg premade lunches – and share them with supermarkets”.

And what a bloody good idea that was.

Whether this will work is anyone’s guess, but this is what I’m proposing. Leave a comment below, specifying what gluten-free (and dairy-free, other-free) lunch options you’d like to see (or see more of) at supermarkets.

It can be one, it can be more than one, but please keep it all succinct so I can copy and paste the suggestions easily and send them to the press departments / ‘free from’ developers at the supermarkets without too much editing. I’ll probably send to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s, M&S and Waitrose, but shout if you’d like it to go to others I’ve neglected or not thought of (Co-op?), and I’ll see what I can do. We can give them, say, a month or so to respond, and I’ll reproduce any responses we get here on the blog at a later date.

Although it was lunch options that got this idea in motion, feel free to leave other suggestions – but stick to products you’d like to see supermarkets stock, please, rather than eg cafés or eateries.

Away you go.


  1. Elaine

    Thank you Alex!

    GF Pasta salad
    Non-spicy rice salad (thinking child-friendly)
    Pre-cooked gf cocktail sausages (M&S are doing brilliantly with their GF range of sausages so this must be the next logical step for them?).
    A cheesecake, the only change needs to be the base.

  2. Ko

    A range of sandwiches rather than 1 or 2 egg mayo ones (if you're lucky)
    Pre-cooked cocktail sausages
    Precooked sausage rolls
    Chicken drumsticks with gf or no coating

  3. Holiday Girl

    Thanks Alex!

    There is so much I would like to see

    GF bread that hasn't two pounds of sugar in it
    GF Noodles (although available they are scarce)
    GF crisps
    GF Fruit cakes
    GF Burgers
    GF Decent Buns and rolls

    I can't make a decent sandwich because buns, rolls and bread are so sweet. I love sweet things but not my bread!!!!

  4. Amanda

    Salad with GF pasta or quinoa

  5. @Lucanesque

    I'm going to buck the trend a bit here, I actually love the fact that I can't eat sandwiches anymore, and haven't really found a GF bread that sates my desire for a decent French stick. My weight is better managed and I eat much healthily. Instead of a lardy sandwich I have a salad, sushi (with GF soy sauce of course), or soup.

    That said, Elaine's idea of cheesecake, and Elaine and Amanda's suggestion of GF pasta salad both get my vote. And one from me… A Melton Mowbray pork pie with proper GF hot water pastry (not sure if that is even possible?).

  6. Katrien

    A gluten & dairy free sandwich
    Gluten & dairy free pasta salad
    Cocktail sausages
    Quinoa instead of couscous

  7. Siân

    This is a great idea, Alex. I find getting lunch when I'm at work/out and about really difficult.

    – I'd like to have healthy lunch options which are not overloaded with fat.
    – I'd also like supermarkets to look at how they package their existing salads. Many salads you find in Waitrose, M&S etc contain naturally gluten free ingredients but then have have, for example, soy sauce etc in the dressing. Could supermarkets have the dressings in separate sealed pots? And if so, can the label clearly state that without the dressing it is gluten free?
    – I'd like supermarkets to look at 'may contain' warnings on products that are naturally gluten free to increase the number of products I could eat. For example, Sainsburys have a 'may contain nuts' warning on their plain salad!
    – More carb based gluten free salads using rice or quinoa.

  8. Ktong

    @Lucanesque, you need to try a traditional pork pie from @foodamentalist, he bakes them wit gf, eg & df hot water pastry! To die for! We stock them in Mummy's Yummys Cupcake Boutique, Handbridge, Chester!

  9. Anonymous

    A salad that doesn't have pasta, couscous, or pearl barley in it seems increasingly hard to find.

    And yes, a sandwich that isn't egg mayo or prawn mayo (seriously, how many allergens can they cram into their allergy friendly ranges?!)

  10. lollyflower

    Brilliant idea and i really hope you get a response. My suggestions are

    Pasta salad
    Sausage rolls
    Something like pot noodles
    Any other pastry foods eg profiteroles and éclairs

  11. Alex G

    Brilliant suggestions from you all – thanks. Keep 'em coming as I won't get around to contacting the s'markets till next week …


  12. Angela Coles

    Savoury Biscuits
    Savoury pastries
    Rice Salads

  13. Anonymous

    For me it's all about sushi with tamari sauce or I love the idea of a more filling gf salad maybe with pui lentils or quinoa

  14. Anonymous

    Lucanesque has a good point, if the supermarkets looked at what we actually eat ourselves, they might also be able to move away from sandwiches. When we make sandwiches, we tend to eat open sandwiches made with toast, along with some cold meats and other nibbly bits like raisins, tomatoes, boiled eggs, cheese or fruit.

    Personally I need to feed my coeliac child, so am looking for simple foodsolutions while we are out. At the moment, if I buy a M&S gf ham sandwich I am scraping out half the contents before he'll eat it. A gluten free kids range would be perfect: plain ham or cheese sandwiches, a fairly plain pasta salad (pesto?) and some SMALL muffins – the M&S chocolate muffin has over 500 calories in it!

    Also some small pots of gf granola with yoghurt for the breakfast ready market? Won't suit all coeliacs but a step in the right direction!

  15. Ruth Holroyd

    A salad that doesn't have pasta, or cheese or a dressing, or any other nasty allergy stuff in there.
    Doughnuts, Profiteroles, Pies, flavoured crisps

  16. Christine

    Rice salads and rice pasta salads with the dressing on the side would get my vote. As would GF products which don't contain the dreaded corn which is everywhere.

    I am severely intolerant of corn and can't eat most GF products as they tend to replace wheat with corn. M&S sandwiches look wonderful until you realise there's corn in there. Please could manufacturers replace corn with something else?

  17. sugarpuffish

    I would like dairy & egg free options for lunch but they also need to be vegetarian so in other words more Vegan options would be welcome as far as I'm concerned. I am fed up of Ready Salted crisps can we get some flavoured ones without milk?

  18. Kirsty

    Thanks Alex for this really good thread! My comments are all about gluten.

    I would echo Sian in asking that supermarkets label things more clearly. I love sushi, but every pack has soy sauce as the second ingredient – I never know if it's in the sushi itself or just that little fish bottle of soy sauce. Many places manage to give calorie counts with or without dressing – how about allergens with or without dressing?

    Also, please think about your salads. M&S have come up with a few quinoa salads lately but then added couscous! Why? The same with rice salads that have a soy sauce dressing- a little bit of thought and they could all easily be gluten free.

    On the sandwiches – I was vegetarian for 20 years but felt forced into eating meat since my diagnosis just to get more options. It would be nice if Coeliacs had the same options as others – vegetarian rather than just ham sandwiches, for example.

    I hope you get some publicity for this – it's really important to many of us!

  19. Maria B

    Great idea!

    My requests would be:-

    GF Pitta breads & fillings
    Mixed bean/ pulses salads
    GF Pasta salads

    Keep us posted as to how you do & thanks for trying to affect a change!

  20. Anonymous

    GF BLT Sandwiches
    GF sausage bacon and egg sandwiches..
    GF Chicken salad sandwiches
    GF Wraps… anything exciting please!!!!

    i dont know about anyone else but a salad doesnt really fill me up… A sandwich is a little more substancial!

  21. Elaine

    A late thought, but with the seasonal offerings from the Supermarkets, it would be lovely to see some GF options in the mix. M&S excel at Christmas time with stuffing, mince pies & puds, but a good majority of the rest of the supermarkets forget about us but fill their shelves with tempting treats for everyone else.

  22. dairyfreebabyandme

    I'd say yes to all of the above, but would also like to stick in a plea for those who are gluten and dairy free – many coeliacs can't have dairy, but this is completely ignored by M & S gluten free range.

    I have yet to find a gluten and dairy free sandwich, sold in a supermarket, that I can eat and yet all these supermarkets now produce their own dairy free spread, so it surely can't be all that hard, can it?

  23. L and J

    Although we don't eat takeaway lunches much (we tend to 'self cater') I cannot understand why naturally gluten free recipes appear to be ignored by those looking for GF offerings.

    Mini poppadums with a spicy chicken and mango chutney would be J's request… whereas I'd like a rice salad that isn't laced with a gluten filled 'dressing'.

    Macaroons and meringues are sweet treats that, made with traditional recipes, are naturally GF and appeal to the non-freefrom eater too. Why ignore these in favour of recipes packed full of additives, fillers and other sundry ingredients?

    Plus, and I know I witter on about this lots, it's really important to have reliable availability of suitable foods… without this we'll never travel anywhere without our bag of Justin-case items.

  24. Alex G

    Belated thanks to all of you for adding your thoughts.

    A summary of the key 'wishlist' items has gone to each of the six supermarkets – Asda, M&S, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose – and all have been referred to this post to read the full comments if they so choose.

    I've given all until November 30th to submit their comments for the follow up blog, and that blog will come on Monday 3rd December… Stay tuned.

    Alex Gazzola


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