Meal Planning 101

Before I get to Part 2 in the Away From Home series, I thought I’d interject with some meal planning. Not only was it requested by a number of different people, but there are also some new to Gluten-Free living people out there that are feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Welcome to Meal Planning 101!

You’re newly diagnosed, or you’re wanting to branch out into cooking more, or you’re tired of the same old same old. How do you manage? Where do you start? And where do you look at the grocery store?

First of all, take a deep breath. Take a step back away from it all and then take one little baby step forward. That’s what going gluten free is about. Baby steps. Oh sure, you have to take one giant leap (diving face forward tripping over a branch) to go gluten free, but meal prep is smaller little baby steps to get to where you want to go.

1. Find some good, reliable, do-able recipes. Now that we’ve been GF for more than three years, I don’t find that many recipes daunting. But I still have some go-to sources.
Rubelle’s Moon is one of my fave twitter girls to follow – she’s always cooking up something great.
Wendy from Celiacs in the House is all about meal planning and plans her weeks out ahead. She cooks really great stuff and was a huge inspiration to me to start cooking more GF stuff that tasted good.
Jules from Jules Gluten Free has great recipes that are easy, remind me of truly good baking, and she’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever encountered. That should get you started 🙂

There’s some other amazing blogs out there like Gluten Free Girl, and Gluten Free Goddess (and if you have others, please leave it in the comments!) but I’d be here all day just listing them.

When you find good recipes, you have a source to start from. Less daunting, and easier to plan meals from.

2. Make a list of 5 things you’d cook this week.
Why five? Well, when we cooked all 7 days, we ended up wasting food. We still have little kids who don’t yet eat our fridge clean, and there are only so many leftovers I can eat. I’m also currently in a positive where I don’t have a microwave at work to heat things up. But, if you make 5 meals, that still allows for leftovers for lunches, an evening of “help yourself” and an evening of “get out of the house” eating out.

3. Plan the grocery list.
You can do so much of your planning at home. Seperate your list into sections: Produce, Meat, Dairy, Canned Goods, Pasta, other. This will allow you to consult your list and cross things off easier without having to scan the entire thing every time.

You can also download many different APPS on your smart phone to help your grocery list organization. Check ahead of time what ingredients you might need that might be questionable. For instance, if you need to pick up a sauce of some kind, look at home to see what sauces might be safe so that when you get to the store, you’re not overwhelmed with choices.

Many grocery stores now (Whole Foods in the states, Superstore in Canada) have entire aisles dedicated to gluten free foods. When in doubt, head for this aisle and regroup.

4. Stick to your plan!!
The biggest mistakes happen when you decide to wing it and just pop into the grocery store on the way home and forget to read labels.

When we were meal planning, we often added a 6th “optional” menu day that had things that could be carried over to the next week if necessary (for example, enchiladas – we could freeze the meat, and the rest of the ingredients we needed stayed fresh).

5. Plan your lunches.
Lunch is often the hardest part of the transition (it definitely was for me!). Pack leftovers into lunch sized tupperware so you can grab and go in the morning. On Sundays, cut things up for quick assembly (my mom is big into salads so every Sunday she cuts up all her veggies for the week so that each night it’s just a matter of tossing things in together).

When you’re making supper, think lunch. Making quinoa? Make more than you will need and while you’re waiting for supper to cook, cut up some fresh vegetables to throw into the quinoa after for an easy quinoa salad. (See a recipe below).

Never assume you can just run out for fast food or assemble something quickly in the morning – especially at the beginning. A hungry celiac is just not a pleasant person to work with 🙂

Step 6:
Pull out the ingredients, and get cooking!

I hope this has helped. If you need more help, or need any clarification, please drop me a line. I’m always here to answer questions!
You can also find me on twitter @mamaceliac

And now for a quick recipes supper/lunch recipes.
Quinoa Stir Fry Dinner + Quinoa Salad Lunch
Cook 2 cups of quinoa in either vegetable or chicken broth. The quinoa will double in amount, so split it in half once it’s done.
While the quinoa is cooking, cut up as many vegetables as you want – think brocoli, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, kales.
Put half in a frying pan to saute – add some garlic and olive oil for rich flavour.
The other half put in a LARGE salad bowl raw.
Once the vegetables are partially cooked, throw half the quinoa in and saute it. Let it simmer in a bit more broth (about 1/2 a cup) until all the broth is gone.
Optional Step: create a hole in the quinoa and add 2 eggs that have been whisked lightly. Once the egg starts to cook and harden, stir up your quinoa stir fry. The egg adds amazing texture and taste.
Turn off your stove and serve up!

For the lunch: add the other half the quinoa to the salad bowl with raw veggies.
Mix up:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp wine vinegar
the juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp dill
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Once well mixed pour on top of quinoa salad mix and stir well to blend.
Optional: add on craisins – yum!

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy @ Celiacs in the House
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:07:26

    Thanks for the shout out! Great tips to make meal planning successful too.

    Reply

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