GF meal planning is pretty much the same as any meal planning, but I’ve found it very important for staying ahead of hunger that would lead to poor decisions (that I will regret later) so I’m including it here and early as part of an effective GF transition.
If you need more detail, that’s fine too. I’ll have the basic forms this week, and more specifics from my own menus next week.
First of all, download my menu worksheet (my loving gift to you).
Second, make a list of all the meals your family currently eats: Spaghetti? Meatloaf? Mac and Cheese? Chili? Sloppy Joes? Big Mac?
Don’t worry yet whether they have gluten-containing ingredients. The point at this stage is just to write down all the meals you know. Meals you need a recipe to make are fine, as long as they’re familiar enough for you to make at the same speed as the recipes in your head.
Once they’re on paper to look at you can consider what favorites are worth creating substitutions for.
Optional-but-recommended third-step: divide your your collected meals into categories (and it’s okay to put the same meal into more than one category).
Any category-designation is fine. I use main-protein (Salmon, caribou, chicken) and/or format (soup, 9×13 casserole dish, slow cooker) depending on the needs of the menu.
Having categories allows you to simplify your planning by narrowing the options of any given day.
|Breakfast||Rice cereal||Egg dish||Cold Cereal||French toast|
|Dinner||Crock pot or time bake||Soup and smallbread||Salmon: Baked, patties, casserole||Moose or Caribou: Roast, stir-fry, casserole|
|Preparation||Soak smallbread batter||Fish out to thaw; Make 2 loaves of bread||Meat out to thaw Pick a salad for dinner||Thaw toppings/ soak oatmeal|
|Breakfast||Oatmeal||Left-overs or Muffins||Pancakes|
|Dinner||Pizza/poached eggs||Crock pot; usually Chili||Elaborate meal or clean-out the fridge|
|Preparation||Thaw meats/beans Soak muffin batter||Soak pancake batter||Assemble time bake|
Yes, I have grain-heavy breakfasts. This is part of why I plan: I want variety and proper preparation to maximize their nutritional value.
Assigning a category to each day of the week means that when I’m trying to come up with a meal for Friday, I’m only drawing from my “crock pot meals” pool.
Hanging out at her place for a while will be a reassuring education in how normal GF food can be and will show you one way to survive now that the “safety net” of fast food has been pulled out from under you.
Yes, your crock pot/slow cooker can be your helper in your transition away from gluten-containing foods.
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Now, remember people, that I am in ALASKA. We hunt here. Fish here. Celebrate getting a call to salvage roadkill when it’s only below freezing at night (Ah, that magical time of year when free meat is not a burden…)
As a result, we had a lot of salmon to go through, and other “pasture-raised” meats. This is not to make you jealous, it is to explain why I have an otherwise expensive fish on my menu every week. I have to put it specifically on the menu or I will. not. think of using it. We’ve been eating these meats since late summer, and I still think of ground-meat or chicken thighs before the local stuff, just because we’ve been close to 10 years without it.
In the same way, if you get some *fabulous* deal on whatever it is you love to eat (or something you want to learn to love), the key to using it wisely is to write down when you are going to eat it.
Okay, so you have your grid, you have your meals, you might even have categories for those meals, and if you do, you’ve assigned categories to go with a least a couple days of the week.
There is no category for lunch, because the easiest way to simplify your life (no matter what you eat) is to assume by default that lunch will be left-overs. And on those odd days when you don’t have leftovers, there’s always the back-pocket quick meals.
Breakfast is the perfect place to be
unoriginalconsistent and unpressured. By picking the same thing every day (or each day of the week), you reduce the number of decisions you need to make in any given day, freeing up brain cells for other jobs. This is my #1 reason to create a menu!
Next thing — the most-fun part of menu-planning by the month– is pick your family’s favorite meal, and a night when you’re all home, and assign that meal to that night. All month.
(Most kids seem to love this: predictability and anticipation. As an easily-distracted mom, I’ll take these points wherever I can grab them)
If you’re concerned about it being too expensive (financially or calorically) you can try every-other-week instead.
Then think about the nights (or days) you are most-strapped for time and assign a slow-cooker meal to that night.
Then keep going.
Giving one or two other nights each week the same meal is okay too, if you’re short on meals. Remember, most families only have 10-12 recipes they rotate through anyway, even when they could eat anything, so don’t be too nervous if your average drops a little. I’ll help you build it back up as you go.
They ask for it when I’m tired of it. But it’s really good for a time-bake Sunday dinner welcoming you home after church.
This menu-building can take a while, especially if you’re low on GF meal ideas, and really, if a weekly thing is more your pace at this stage, feel free to start there.
The goal in menu-planning is to know far enough ahead that you never have to be caught hungry. Hungry is never a good time to make decisions. Ever.