A vibrant taco night spread featuring plates of grilled chicken, beef, tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, black beans, sour cream, jalapeños, and salsa, all arranged on a decorative tablecloth.

Have you ever been so excited about two things and you can’t decide which to be excited about more?

That’s me.

I want to share this entire taco bar and how I made it and all the ingredients (and how you can make it gluten-free).

And then?

I want to share with you all how I conquered my fear of meat.

Seriously.

I think that’s where all my entire non-cooking thing started all those years ago. Remember the roast? Remember the chicken fiasco? Remember my macaroni and cheese kitchen? I think everything started because literally cannot figure out meat.

How to prepare it? How to fix it? What type of meat to buy? How much meat to buy?

And on and on and meat challenge on.

Truth?

Most main dishes start with meat—which can set you back fixing dinner if you don’t speak meat.

But now?

I am dancing and singing and planning recipes and I’ve prepared MEAT dishes for us for THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW. What in the world is happening here at Thistlewood?

And it’s all because of this.

A close-up of a product label that reads "just meats," highlighting "no artificial colors, artificial flavors", with mentions of "branch rub chicken" and "ready & delivered" on a white and gold background.

It’s a subscription company called Just Meats.

They reached out to me several months ago to try their subscription service. I actually have an AMAZING DEAL right now if you want to try it like me. You can get 25% off your first subscription (cancel at any time) and then another $15 off with my code that stacks: FTTHISTLEWOOD

When you click this link it will automatically add all your discounts at checkout.

I was a little worried.

I was a little concerned.

Just the word MEAT made me shiver.

But now? I am a BELIEVER.

Truly. Truly. Truly.

In full disclosure—Just Meats is sponsoring this post—but now? I’m a customer for life. I’m going to be ordering meat from them way long after the sponsorship is over.

Why?

A woman in a blue dress smiling and standing at the open door of a house, with a delivery box labeled "just meats.com" on the doorstep.

Three packages of "just meats" brand jerky, including original beef, hickory smoked turkey, and texas pulled pork, neatly stacked in a white cooler.

Let me count the ways:

  1. I ordered the meats and a box showed up to my front door. Inside, there were packages of meat completely frozen in containers like this.
  2. I could order as little or as much as I wanted and I got a 25% discount on my first order (plus I have a $15 off coupon that stacks on top of that for us today, too).
  3. I can cancel or pause or change my order to adjust to parties, company, etc. every single month.
  4. It’s restaurant quality at grocery store prices.
  5. And here’s the best part—the MEAT IS FULLY COOKED and SEASONED and ready to go—its SO EASY—all you have to do is heat it up and it’s ready for any recipe or salad or dish or even just by itself with a vegetable.
  6. AND IT IS DELICIOUS (like the yummiest of the yummiest—seriously I’m having the chicken tonight with lettuce wraps leftover from the taco bar and my mouth is watering just typing this).

Inside a refrigerator, packaged chicken breast labeled "sub chicken breast" is stacked above other assorted packaged foods in clear containers.

I stacked the meat in the freezer and I had two weeks worth of MEAT meals just waiting for me.

Every couple of days, I take a package out and let it defrost in the refrigerator.

Then I just opened the lid to the packaging (you can take out the amount of meat that you want to use) and just closed the packaging back up.

Sliced, seasoned chicken breast in a black plastic tray on a marble countertop, topped with herbs and spices.

Here’s what the chicken looked like after I defrosted it.

Every package has all the calorie and nutrition information on it, too.

There’s a sauce packet that comes with each package of meat.

A pouch of "just sauce ranch rub chicken marinade" on a marble surface, highlighting its black and white packaging with nutritional facts displayed.

It’s just there for extra flavor.

You can use it when you reheat the meat.

Or you can use it when you initially heat up the meat. It’s up to you depending on the amount of flavor that you want.

Strips of cooked beef in a black frying pan on a stove top.

Here’s what it looked like when I heated up the meat.

This is the Carne Asada and it is NEXT LEVEL.

My husband went back for thirds.

Strips of chicken cooking in a black frying pan on a gas stove.

Here’s the Ranch Rub Chicken.

SO YUMMY.

Each piece is thick and juicy and not dry at all.

And the flavors.

So I got my chicken ready and my beef ready.

What’s a meat cooker like me to do?

Put together a taco bar.

Here’s how I created it.

A spread of mexican food ingredients on a table, including bowls of sliced meats, chips, avocado, shredded cheese, and condiments, arranged neatly for taco assembly.

Gluten Free Taco Bar

Ingredients:

  • salsa
  • pico De Gallo
  • lettuce (for wraps)
  • grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • black beans
  • refried beans
  • rice
  • tortilla chips
  • small corn tortillas (gluten-free)
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced onions
  • limes
  • avocado
  • fresh jalapanos
  • sour cream
  • grilled chicken
  • grilled beef

Overhead view of a meal setup with plates of sliced chicken, black beans, shredded cheese, limes, tortillas, and chips, arranged on a table. fresh and inviting taco night ingredients.

1. Prepare the fresh ingredients

  • Dice the fresh tomatoes
  • Dice the onions
  • Slice the avacado
  • Half the limes or cut into wedges
  • Slice the jalapenos
  • Tear the lettuce into pieces to use for wraps

2. Prepare the rice

  • Follow the instructions on the package and prepare the rice

3. Heat the black beans

  • Follow the instructions on the can and heat the black beans

3. Heat the refried beans

  • Follow the instructions on the can and heat the refried beans

4. Heat the Ranch Rub Chicken from Just Meats

  • Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator
  • Remove the chicken from the vacuum-sealed packaging
  • Heat in a skillet
  • Add the sauce that comes with the chicken (if you’d like extra flavoring)

4. Heat the Carne Asada from Just Meats

  • Defrost the meat in the refrigerator
  • Remove the meat from the vacuum-sealed packaging
  • Heat in a skillet
  • Add the sauce that comes with the meat (if you’d like extra flavoring)

Overhead view of a meal setup with plates of sliced chicken, black beans, shredded cheese, limes, tortillas, and chips, arranged on a table. fresh and inviting taco night ingredients.

A mexican meal setup featuring plates of shredded chicken, sliced beef, avocados, shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapeños, and tortilla chips on a woven mat.

5. Assemble the taco bar

Place vegetables, meats, beans, sour cream and tortilla chips into containers and plates.

Use a large basket or tray or cutting board as a base for your taco bar.

Add serving pieces to dishes.

Enjoy.

A spread of mexican food ingredients on a table, including bowls of sliced meats, chips, avocado, shredded cheese, and condiments, arranged neatly for taco assembly.

Gluten Free Taco Bar

This gluten-free taco bar features lettuce and corn tortillas in place of flour tortillas. The toppings are easy to arrange and it's a great way to feed a crowd in minutes.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo
  • 1/2 ettuce (for wraps)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 pkg tortilla chips
  • 1 pkg small corn tortillas (gluten-free
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 4 limes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 fresh jalapano
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pkg Just Meats Ranch Rub Grilled Chicken
  • 1 pkg Just Meats Carne Asada

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the fresh ingredients
    Dice the fresh tomatoes
    Dice the onions
    Slice the avacado
    Half the limes or cut into wedges
    Slice the jalapenos
    Tear the lettuce into pieces to use for wraps
  • Prepare the Rice
    Follow the instructions on the package and prepare the rice.
  • Prepare the Beans
    Follow the instructions on the can and heat the black beans.
    Follow the instructions on the can and heat the refried beans.
  • Heat the Ranch Rub Chicken from Just Meats
    Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator.
    Remove the chicken from the vacuum-sealed packagingHeat in a skillet.
    Add the sauce that comes with the chicken (if you'd like extra flavoring).
  • Heat the Carne Asada from Just Meats
    Defrost the meat in the refrigerator.
    Remove the meat from the vacuum-sealed packaging.
    Heat in a skillet.
    Add the sauce that comes with the meat (if you'd like extra flavoring).
  • Assemble the taco bar
    Place vegetables, meats, beans, sour cream and tortilla chips into containers and plates.
    Use a large basket or tray or cutting board as a base for your taco bar.
    Add serving pieces to dishes.
    Enjoy.

Notes

I hope you love this EASY, simple recipe as much as I do! There are tons of other toppings you can add as well to the taco bar---these are just my favorite. Another quick tip---you can also add dairy-free cheese and sour cream to make it dairy-free as well.

A smiling woman with long blonde hair, wearing a striped top and earrings, holds a lettuce wrap towards the camera in a bright room eating a taco from a gluten free taco bar.

That’s it.

It was the yummiest taco bar (and we took it outside and ate it in the new outdoor eating area out front).

I hope my excitement leapt off these pages.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this new subscription service.

My mind is spinning with all the possibilities for recipes and ideas and things I can make.

If Just Meats seems like the subscription service for you? I’d love to invite you to join me and sign up!

You can get 25% off your first subscription (cancel at any time) and then another $15 off with my code that stacks : FTTHISTLEWOOD

When you click this link it will automatically add all your discounts at checkout.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

And you know where to find me?

Cooking dinner. 🙂

Pinnable image for a gluten-free taco bar featuring bowls of sliced chicken, beef, black beans, shredded cheese, avocado slices, sour cream, and salsa, surrounded by tortillas and lime wedges on a wooden table.

disclosure: this post is sponsored by Just Meats.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

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Comments

  1. Image for Kris Kris

    I'm glad you found a solution for your meat phobia! But .... mac and cheese isn't a meat-based meal .... I have a fantastic EASY recipe for homemade mac and cheese if you're interested!

  2. Image for laura laura

    bOOM! DONE! Just ordered with Thistlewood discount code! We spend so much money ordering out because I forget to thaw my ground chicken etc. And it may have something to do with my limited cooking skills and off the rails ingredient substitutions! This is perfect. Both my adulting boys are here until July and there is too much takeout in the trash bin! ha! xo laura

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      You will LOVE IT! I just put in my own order LOL! I got 6 packages of meat (they gave me an extra one free, too) and it was under $50! FOR THR BEST MEAT EVER!!!!

  3. Image for Lee Stearns Lee Stearns

    Well look at you! Flawless skin and all! Gorgeous! And excited about… meat! Just another secret you’re sharing with us! It sounds and looks fantastic! Can’t wait to hear more! Glad you’re enjoying your new picnic area too! A whole new world of food/fun! And the monogrammed planters…” next level” as you’d say! 😁😁 Keep Livin’ the dream my friend!

  4. Image for Judy Young Judy Young

    I wonder how much salt is already added to the packages of meat. My doctor has put me on The Garden of Eden diet to eliminate my diabetes and he says no salt! I can eat canned veggies and there is some salt in those so he probably means no added salt. Karianne, if you have time, please look at the sodium content on a couple of packages and let me know what it is. Plus since I’m retired I don’t need that much meat, is there a minimum order? It sounds great and a huge timesaver! I can tell how excited you are!

  5. Image for Liz Liz

    We're in the middle of moving. I can't order this week for sure. Will the discounts still work next week or the following week? Thank you!

  6. Image for Paula Paula

    I am always up for a good lettuce wrap however, if you like cabbage you should try a cabbage wrap (raw, I am not a cooked cabbage gal)...works for burgers and everything. Has a really nice crunch but also holds the sauces and everything like taco meat in better they don't soak/ leak through. Just recently discovered so thought I would share.

  7. Image for Janet Janet

    Wow, this is exciting! My brother and I share a house and he is the pickiest eater ever. This should satisfy his beef preferences and I can have more adventurous options. It's a win-win. Thanks, Karianne.

  8. Image for Lisa G Lisa G

    Dear KariAnne, I have followed your blog for many years and have bought fun, inexpensive, and practical things you recommended. I am unsubscribing now because, today, I was excited for practical and economical tips for a non-meat-eating girl to feed her carnivorous family. Instead, you are promoting a spendy (and likely big carbon footprint) service out of reach for the average mom (or at least this mom). I realize you need to make a living too, but this is beyond the pale for me. I really like you and will miss your posts, but am unsubscribing. I don’t intend to hurt your feelings or the feelings of any of your followers. I do think you should be aware of why you are losing a loyal follower. Respectfully, Lisa G.

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Oh noooo. I'm so so sorry! I seriously am so excited about this (just ordered my own subscription). It works so well for our family, but I can understand it's not for everyone. One of my goals was to highlight small businesses like this in 2024. They work directly with small ranches so they help those ranches to grow. It also saves me SO MUCH time and it also solves my non-cooking problem. Again, I truly apologize. You will be missed and I'm so sorry!

  9. Image for Linda Johnston Linda Johnston

    We like meat! We also have adjusted our eating habits due to diabetes (me) and both other issues. All part of aging. Plus there is only the two of us here now. I did have to chuckle a little. I knew all about cooking struggles but not about the meat issue. I just thought as I read, Honey, you're from Texas! Happy Saturday!

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