Tackling a gluten free lifestyle is all about planning. Doing GF by ‘winging it’ is incredibly difficult unless you live in a loft over a 24 hour Whole Foods. Here’s what works best for us. First, identify the two or three (or more) Grocery Stores that have the Gluten free products you need. Next, make a weekly or even two week plan for hitting these stores at different times during your two week plan. Here’s an example that works for us:
Sunday1 – Holidays Market (primary shopping – Fresh Meat & Produce)
Monday1 – crazy day – work & school, no shopping, minimal cooking
Tuesday1 – Grill / cook with lots of leftovers for the week ahead
Wednesday1 – Whole Foods, quick trip – GF frozen meals
Thursday1 – make homemade GF bread, good for 1 week at least
Friday1 – GF Pizza at home, wahoooo!
Saturday1 – clean out fridge, get ready for tomorrow’s big shopping
Sunday2 - Holidays Market (primary shopping – Fresh Meat & Produce)
Monday2 – crazy day – work & school, no shopping, minimal cooking
Tuesday2 – Grill / cook with lots of leftovers for the week ahead
Wednesday2 – Arbor Farms, quick trip – GF frozen meals
Thursday2 – make ‘Egg Buddies’ for quick breakfasts, GF cookies too.
Friday2 – hit your favorite restaurant with good GF options
Saturday2 – clean out fridge, get ready for tomorrow’s big shopping
This is a sample 14 day plan that involves 3 grocery stores and has four days with no shopping or food prep. We’re not saying it’s easy, but it’s a very workable plan because you start to get in the habit of looking ahead and doing things that make the cycle easier.
When we Gluten Free grill, we cook chicken, turkey patties, fish and beef. After an initial ‘smorgasbord’ dinner, we put the leftovers in plastic storage containers that go into the fridge or freezer. This gives us plenty of good protein options that become the anchor of our meals during the next 7 days. As an example, it’s easy to make a quick dinner with turkey patties, hummus, green beans and rice.
HINT: Turn your fridge to a slightly cooler setting. This will keep your fresh meats and produce good a little longer while ensuring that your milk is ice cold when you break out the Gluten Free cookies. Be careful not to go too cold, because many late model fridges with water in the door or with an ice maker can freeze up. On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being coldest, try 7 and see how that works.
HINT: Look at your storage container situation. We had a hodge-podge mess. We opted to trash all the random ones and go with only Gladware disposable containers. We have four sizes that fit nicely in our fridge and stack well. And if one goes missing, no worries.
Notice in our plan that we hit the ‘specialty’ health food / organic grocery stores only once a week. These are quick trips to get the GF things we can’t find at our regular local grocery store. Also, our regular grocery store has been quite accommodating in adding a few GF items that make life easier (Thanks Capt. Dan @ Holidays!). Having Udi’s GF Bagels at Holidays makes our weekly plan work for school lunches.
When you do get around to actual cooking, doubling your recipe is only a little more work and the leftovers that can be saved (fridge or freezer) will provide healthy, quick GF nutrition that will make your transition to GF eating a little easier.
Remember, your spending at the grocery store will go up, but your spending on fast food and restaurants will go down. And your nutritionist will most likely tell you that an ‘investment’ in healthy food is a great way to avoid health care costs down the road with fewer trips to the doctors’ office.
Start out with a mini-plan to get through ONE week of Gluten Free eating. Start on Sunday when you hopefully can go to the grocery store and do some shopping with your 1-week plan in mind AND when you’ll have a little time to do some food prep before the work/school roller-coaster starts on Monday morning.
These recipes will be coming soon, but here are some ideas that will give you tasty ways to stay ahead of the game:
Egg Buddies – mini egg casseroles (eggs, turkey sausage, GF tater tots) cooked in muffin cups, make 24 at a time, fun, quick, nutritious b’fast, every other day for a whole week!
Turkey Goulash – great for sit-down lunch & dinner, quick re-heat in the microwave too.
Crockpot Green Beans - #10 can (save money) from Wal-Mart, add Mrs. Dash, cook low & slow all day - mmm!
These are just a few of the things that give us great food options all week long where the whole family – Gluten Free or not – looks forward to grabbing a bite to eat at home. If you have some ideas that work for you, let us know. We’ll be happy to add your ideas and give you a shout-out in the process. We’re all in this together, so please feel free to help us, help others.