So, I’ve been trying to find my way back in to the kitchen. I really miss baking and exploring what I can make with different things. However, having an active toddler roam – or rather – speed around makes it difficult to have sustained dedicated cooking or baking time. I’m learning a few tricks that have been working for me.
I can usually get things set up or baking while she naps – WHEN she naps. If she wakes earlier than I had thought, I plunk her in to her high chair for a snack of fresh fruit and rice crackers. However, there are many an afternoon when the nap just doesn’t happen like mama wants/hopes… or maybe even Mama is napping with Baby Lightening too. On those occasions, I’m finding that my organization is what is being put to the test. Here’s what helps *me* keep on top a bit better now that I have two whole months of Mommy-dom under my belt:
- Use small containers to keep ready-to-go mixes for everyday things like the GF Lavash/Sandwich wrap that we make for everything from pizza, sandwiches, toast, pita dips, pretzels, etc.
- Have a plan. Okay, I tried my stab at Meal Planning. It works GREAT when I *have* to have a plan (like when 8 relatives were here for two weeks from Chicago with us!). However, since I’m not good at keeping up with meal planning on a weekly basis, I’ve decided that I’m a 2 or 3 day planner at max. I have on hand things that I can make in to a planned meal. That way, when I have some extra time, I can just prep something for dinner. (Our goal is to eat together as a family every night. So far, the Chicklet sometimes eats while we are prepping our dinner and then “sits” with us (read: sits on our laps) while we eat. I like it much better when we all eat together. I’m sure this will be easier when she is eating 100% of what we are eating, but so far, she eats about 65-70% of what we eat.)
- Use the kitchen conveniences that I have! And use them wisely and when I can. For example: the rice cooker. If we are going to eat rice with dinner, I can easily start it at the end of her nap and have it stay warm until dinner time. This is definitely a HUGE convenience and time saver. (And now I’m making quinoa in it for lunch salads. Any leftovers are just eaten at dinner or lunch the next day. Piece of cake!)
- The crock pot: Well… it’s not getting the work out it should be. I definitely regretted not taking it out yesterday when our house reached 89F inside. I could have easily made our pasta dinner in it without heating up the house further. Let’s just say this: the crock pot is now out and ready to go. And so are all of the fans (well barracaded so the imp doesn’t lose her fingers). See here:
Other things that we are doing are not necessarily related to cooking in the moment. But more about how we are spending the money to be more frugal and economical. By taking three months without pay, our life is definitely on the tight-budget until my next “real” paycheck after I return to work in September. This means that when it comes to gluten free eating, we are sticking to what we know works (fresh foods, on sale, homemade, etc) and buying those things that are just too time consuming to make with a new baby in the house.
Instead of making our own pastas, we are shopping at G.F. Joe’s to meet our needs. Being lucky enough to live near a gluten-free market, I can find somethings that are really time consuming to make – like pasta. While the dough is a no-brainer, extruding spaghetti is a tad more time than I have at the moment. However, I am still making my own rice balls and pasta for wide noodle soups. That’s easy. It’s just been too stinking hot for me to think about eating soup! (And a side note: OH… I *love* Joe’s! He even had gluten-free ice cream sandwiches the other day. And they are SO GOOD! All organic too… even the gluten eater in the house liked them. While not the same kind of cakey-sandwich I adored as a child, these were a great treat for all in the hot weather. I’ll post more once I ummm..taste-test again and make sure they are available on a wider market.)
Now, dear readers… here comes my appeal: WHAT am I missing? What MORE can I do to ensure my family eating healthy, wholesome, gluten free goodies together while on a budget and with little or no time to prep?
Got an idea? I could sure use the inspiration! Please share in the comments section. I promise, while I might not be able to answer everyone’s comments or emails lately – I am still reading them!
Thanks for the tips!
I’m going to head to the park to find some more ideas. It’s just much more fun that sitting around a hot house, that’s for sure! I have a little voice here that agrees with me on that vote too. :D