It is frequently commented that lunch is one of the hardest meals for coeliacs – probably because the usual grab and go items are full of wheat! Sandwich – no. Pie – no. Pasta salad – no.
The UK is a mass market sandwich machine – they are available everywhere, including the Boots the chemist (often a source of amusement to newly arrived Aussies that food is sold at a chemist). In Australia most sandwich shops make to order, but even if they have gluten free bread, cross contamination (and taste!) is a big issue.
There are now a number of pre-prepared gluten free wrap, roll and sandwich offerings by chain coffee shops and supermarkets which has made lunch on the run far easier for coeliacs. This weekend I did a return train trip from London to Edinburgh and was saved from starvation by buying a Starbucks GF wrap for lunch before boarding in both directions (rightly presuming that sandwiches would be the only thing on offer).
This post sums up the sandwiches I have tried and also lists some others I am aware of – let me know what you have tried in the comments area at the bottom of the page!
Starbucks (coffee shop & pre-packaged sandwiches)
Veggie good houmous wrap – 352 kcal per pack
This is one of my favourites! It uses Newburn Bakehouse seeded wraps which are soft and don’t fall apart and is wrapped with the bottoms tucked in, so the filling does not fall out. The filling is roasted mixed vegetables, grated carrot for a bit of crunch, lemon & coriander houmous, orange chutney and spinach leaves. I love the coriander flavour, with pumpkin seeds for some added goodness and crunch. It is vegetarian and dairy free. It does contain onion & garlic so caution is needed if you are on a FODMAPs diet, but the onion can be quite easily removed. I first bought one of these at Heathrow Terminal 5, so it is good to see a gluten free offering at airports.
Note – you have to look hard to see that it is labelled gluten free.
Launched May 2014 across 750 stores.
Take away: £3.29, Eat in: £3.99
(Note: higher price in some stores, I paid just over £4 takeaway at King’s Cross station.)
Costa coffee (coffee shop & pre-packaged sandwiches)
Chicken & basil salad wrap – 330 kcal per pack
This wrap has been certified by Coeliac UK. As with Starbucks, it uses Newburn Bakehouse seeded wraps which are soft and don’t fall apart, but this is not wrapped with the ends folded in, so you do lose a bit of filling while eating. Some people have felt there hasn’t been enough chicken, but in the first week of launch I had three wraps from different stores (I was on the road a lot ) and was happy with the amount of chicken. There is quite a lot of lettuce, but the basil gives it a really nice flavour.
Launched nationwide May 2014. Cost £3.75
Caffe Nero (coffee shop & pre-packaged sandwiches)
Chicken, salad & pesto roll – 357 kcal per pack
This uses a Genius roll, which I think are very good for a gluten free roll. It contains chicken, sun blush tomato mayo, tomato & rocket and tastes good.
Launched in 600 stores including airports & train stations (not Nero Express) May 2014.
Take away: £3.50, Eat in: £3.60
M&S Simply Food supermarket
My local M&S Food does not stock gluten free sandwiches, but some of the bigger stores do (I haven’t tried any yet!). There is a Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s and a Ham & Cheese.
Sainsbury’s used to do rolls (2013), but now do sandwiches. I preferred the rolls as the sandwich bread goes a little bit soggy, but they are still fine for an occasional lunch. As sandwiches, it is also quite hard to find them in the sandwich section as they are lying flat and the labels are not visible – have a good look for them! They are also eligible for ‘meal deals’ when you buy selected fruit packs and a drink.
Chicken salad sandwich (picture is of the roll)
Egg & rocket sandwich
At the end of april 2014 Tesco introduced several new sandwiches using Genius bread at selected stores, but despite looking in some very large stores I have never seen them. You can see the announcement and check which stores stock them here. The options are listed below.
Egg Salad (£2.80) – suitable for vegetarians
Ham & Cheddar Ploughman’s (£3.00)
Chicken Salad (£3.00)
Carrot & Houmous (£3.00) – suitable for dairy free & vegetarians
My local Waitrose doesn’t seem to have any free from items, except the gluten free Amoy rice noodles (review here), however some larger stores have an egg salad sandwich for £2.80 – you can see the details here
I have never been to a Bugdens, but ‘glutenfreefortea’ has found an Urban Eat chicken roll (Genius roll) there. You can see some her review of this and other sandwiches on the glutenfreefortea blog (October 2013).