In my last post, I told you that my one and only New Year’s Resolution is to get (and stay) organized. One of my biggest areas for improvement is meal time. Why am I so disorganized at meal time? Because I love to cook! Yes, its seems ironic. But in fact, I have never been the type of person who likes to stick to routine and repeat the same acts over and over. And yet, I realize now, that at least during the busy weeknights with two young children, that routine is essential.
Wednesday night is not the night to break out a new recipe with new techniques that I haven’t tried before, or to research how Julia Child might have done it, while hungry kids turn into rabid zoo animals. Instead, I need to fall back on my favorite quick and easy weeknight recipes that I know the kids (and husband) will eat. So I’ve written them down to refer to over and over, instead of having to reinvent the wheel every weeknight. And I’ll leave experimenting to the weekends, when there’s more time and I can have fun with it.
I highly encourage you to make your own meal plan. To eat well on a gluten-free diet, you really must cook most meals at home. And if you are new to the gluten-free diet and still need help on what to eat, putting a little extra thought into it will be your saving grace. But even if you have been gluten-free for some time, if you’re as busy as I am during the weeks, making a meal plan will allow you to go to the grocery store only once (maybe twice) a week and will help you streamline time in the kitchen. So make a game plan, then enjoy that little extra time you have just freed up.
Here are 5 tips on preparing a successful weekly gluten-free dairy-free meal plan:To eat well #glutenfree you must cook most meals at home. Here r 5 tips for making a #mealplan: Click To Tweet
Keep it Simple. Reserve complex, gourmet meals for the weekends. Instead focus on simple meals like Soup & Salad, Pasta Night, or other family favorites during the week and busy mornings.
Add Variations on a Theme. We all know that variety is the spice of life. So take Soup & Salad night and make it different every week. Same with Pasta night. There are so many amazing recipes for pasta sauces, why not make a different one every week? And salads don’t have to be boring at all! While you keep with the basics (a smoothie is always a smoothie if made the same way), you can change a few ingredients here and there to keep from getting bored.
Make it Adult- AND Kid-Friendly. My children are very good eaters. That’s because I’ve put every vegetable that I’ve ever cooked in front of them since before they could talk. Over and over. Until they try it and decide its acceptable. But they still haven’t gotten used to the idea of spices and Luke (who is almost 6) is only now considering the idea of sauces. But us adults don’t want to eat plain rice, plain sautéed vegetables, plain sautéed chicken, night after night. And yet, I am not about to make more then one meal at dinner time. So I often cook the components of the meal, plate it up for the kids, make a sauce, then add the adult portions back in (examples below). Also, my husband I eat paleo, most of the time, but my kids still enjoy their carbs. So I plate up extra protein and veggies for me, and let the others enjoy their carbs. Everyone is happy. Here are more tips on raising a (healthy) foodie.
Make extras of everything! Leftover risotto makes great risotto cakes for a quick side dish during the week. The same is true of polenta and its leftovers as cakes. Leftover veggies (don’t overcook) go great in lunchboxes or on salads. Or cook whatever veggies you want for dinner, and slice and package the rest (raw) for lunch. Leftover meats and fish always make for a great lunch (especially if mixed with mayo, celery and seasonings and placed on field greens). My kids will eat leftovers in their bento boxes, too, so there’s one less thing to figure out before sunrise.
Get help. Being the mother of two young children, I’m used to having to make dinner entirely alone, while husband is commuting home. Meanwhile my children’s needs seem to require immediate attention just at the moment that my water is coming to a boil! But now that Ava is 3 ½ and Luke is 5 ½ , they are becoming (a little) more patient in their requests and actually even able to help out (a little). Life is becoming a little less harried! Helping in any way, makes children feel empowered, and they will only want to continue to help as they get older, if you encourage this. They can rip Romaine leaves for Ceasar salad or kale leaves for Kale chips. They can set the table. Pull ingredients out from the fridge. Pour rice and stir the pot. Get their own cups of water. You can even let them choose Saturday night’s meal, and have them help make it. Then they will proudly eat the fruits of their own labor. Plus don’t forget to put your spouse to work! Let them lead by example. 🙂
So following is my gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, kid-friendly, grain-free, paleo, refined sugar-free, one-month meal plan. I tried to make a 2-week plan, but I was already getting bored with the thought of repeating the dinner options. So I went ahead and did a month-long dinner plan (breakfast, lunch and snacks remain the same from week to week). They are mostly quick and easy meals with enough variety to keep from getting bored. Because growing kids inevitably need to snack between meals, I’ve also listed healthy snack options, so I’m not left scouring the cabinets for less-than-optimal options for them. Dessert is not listed in this meal plan. I don’t indulge very often. But there may be some homemade cookies, or approved desserts in small quantities for Luke and Ava. As they know, only if they finish their plates first, though. 🙂
I’d like to give a big thanks to community members for submitting their recipes and helping to fill out the meal plan. Does this community rock, or what? Do you have recipes you want to add to the collection? Just create an account and submit!
I want your feedback! Is this meal plan helpful or inspiring in any way to you? Do you have favorite weeknight meals that are your standard? I’m sure others would love to hear about them. If there is a meal idea here without a recipe attached to it that you are particularly interested in, let me know and I, or another community member can elaborate more.
Please download our FREE one week meal plan. If you find it helpful, laminate it and scribble on it with dry erase marker, to personalize it for your own use. 🙂
For more inspiration, please also visit our meal plans page with seasonal 30-day meal plans.