Category Archives: Kids & Family – Musings

Help Wanted: Eating GF more wisely, cheaply and saving time. Got tips?

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I bet you think I’ve fallen into a large hole around here and have lost internet access, huh?

Well, I have, kind of.

School started.  Just last year I had 135 students a day (5 classes/high school) and this year?  Oh no… this year I see 171 students (same five classes) and it’s A LOT.  Add that to the fact that the baby youngest toddler is a moving, shaking, running, jumping, climbing and the eldest is well…. keeping up and you can see why I’m dead tired by dinner time.

We’re back on the treadmill people.  Up at 5:15, home by 5:00, dinner, play, baths, and bedtime…then school work.  Bedtime comes around 11:40 or later.  Seriously…this is going to be a long winter!

Top that with the fact that our house, just like yours I bet, has been hit by our lovely economic woes.  Thankfully, we are both employed.  However the loss of pay in the form of pay cuts (8% between the two of us) and double to out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance (EEK!) and we are in re-set mode.

We are intentional about the food choices we make.  More than ever now as well.  We have to stretch that dollar farther and we are still choosing to maintain a completely gluten free home.  But as all of you know, that means some serious creativity.

Couple all of that with the fact that time to cook dinner is LIMITED.  Kids (and parents alike) are wickedly hungry come 5:30.  Providing snacks before dinner doesn’t seem like a positive solution at all.  We worry that then we are just giving them outs from dinner – and we want to eat all together as a family.  THAT is important to us.

So.. I guess this post is a conversation starter.  One that I hope will get you all commenting and helping with tips and pointers for ALL of us busy, working gluten-free families.  What are YOU doing to save your brain, your money and your family (health and time together)?

 Home-made GF Quesadillas – add eggs or avocado, etc too

See recipe below signature

Quesadilla

I have limited tricks for getting dinner on the table quickly.  This has a lot to do with my brain.  I am NOT the one in my family who can open the cupboard, see what we have on hand and then whip out dinner.  Nope.  Especially not when there are two kids practically pulling my pants off as they try to get my attention after we rush in after work/daycare at 5PM.  And,  I don’t do mania very well at all.  (Can you believe I do mania REALLY well in the classroom – but just not at home?  I don’t get it either – but it is true.)

Sometimes I am organized enough on the weekend to layout a dinner menu for the week.  I get organized after we pick up our box of veggies at the Farmer’s Market on Sundays and start planning.  Each meal we have to include things that are accessible to the kids – as I’m not a short-order cook and we’re going to all eat together.  Sometimes we make miso soup for them (they LOVE tofu) in addition to whatever we are having, but they usually just eat right along with us.  Once I see what we have for the week, I can easily lay out dinner menus on the calendar at home (or the google calendar we share so I can see it on my phone or at work, if needed).  I love those weeks.  I know what I need to do, when, etc.  It’s so helpful when work things pop up last-minute or unplanned after-daycare doctor visits (my pediatrician should have a frequent-flyer coupon card for free coffee after 10 visits or something… I”m just saying…).

Sometimes I’m not so fabulously organized.  And these are the weeks that are (1) most common and (2) the MOST stressful for me.

Like this week.  Unplanned, but at least there is food in the fridge.  These are the days that my husband finds to be the easiest.  Seriously, in 3 minutes flat he can make a meal plan and get it started.  Me?  OMGosh – I have to know what’s in the fridge for the WHOLE day before I can even begin to figure something out.

Take today, for example.  I know there is ground turkey at home.  I can make lettuce wraps or tacos or chili (oh wait… I don’t have any beans on hand) … k then… I could make meatballs with rice (no pasta either), or.  Dang it.  I don’t know.  When my feet hit the kitchen, I will decide then.

More than just meal planning, however, is saving money.  Cheap Gluten Free Eats!  (Yes, they do exist.)

Here’s the list I’ve been working with this last month.  You can see I’m in need of some change-ups, people. One can only eat so many apples with peanut butter before you just don’t want to even look at them again.  So please.  Let’s work together on this.

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

SNACK

DINNER

Cinnamon Chex

peanut butter/apples or celery sticks

nuts

lettuce wraps

fresh fruit

leftovers

hard-boiled egg

soup/chili

Yogurt

cheese & pears

cheese cubes

veggies

GF Granola

hard-boiled egg

Trio bar (my spendy snack)

Lundberg risotto + protein and veggies mixed in

Hard cheese & GF tortilla chips

rice noodle soup (so much cheaper!)

Fresh fruit

Cantonese-style family chicken & mushrooms

eggs

miso + tofu soup

small salad

fajitas

yogurt smoothie

meat/cheese or avocado roll

meat/cheese or avocado roll

Chinese Chicken & Corn Chowder

homemade GF torillas with eggs/cheese

nori wraps

nori wrap

Tortilla soup

Chilaquiles

homemade tortillas/quesadillas

edamame

grilled meats/fish and veggies/frui

What are your favorite cheap and convenient GF foods/meals?

Let’s get talking, people!

~Kate

PS.  Making your own gluten free corn tortillas is SUPER easy (and much tastier, by the way).  Use equal parts corn flour (masa harina or masa harina para tortillas) and warm water.  You can also add a bit of olive oil or spices to your dough, if you’d like. (I added paprika and chili powder in the ones in the photo.)  Mix the corn flour with the warm water slowly until it forms a soft pliable ball.  Pinch off pieces and flatten in your hand to make tortillas (or thicker ones for sopes).  Cook on a hot, non-stick skillet.

Family Photos and an offer for YOU from Kodak

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I love taking pictures.

I am certainly not a pro, but for every 500 photos I take, one does turn out nicely.  :D

There are so many bloggers now than what used to be about.  And their blogs are gorgeous.  Really.  The photography, the design of their “theme” (what the blog looks like), etc.  I keep getting email from people asking me if I am “in the market” for a logo or a specialized theme…. for serious cash, too, people.  Yikes.  Maybe I’m in over-my-head?  My little blog and I are just here to share what we make at home and hopefully help someone along the way.

As far as fancy pictures?  Bah.  I do my best with what I’ve got. :D  Thank goodness, I have some cute subjects to photograph!

Coy

Ready and waiting for the rest of us to go, go, GO!

As far as fancy logo/theme?  Maybe I’ll consider doing that after I figure out how to pay for college for the kids.

I’m much more interested in documenting our life.  These last two years have ushered in MAJOR changes in our lives.  We’ve been working on keeping up with life and taking photos along the way.

the Beach!!

“First Beach” in LaPush, WA (We are so not dressed for the beach!)

Enter a perk from blogging.  Sometimes I am offered free samples to give away on my blog.  Sometimes good deals (like the “GFB:  Gluten Free Bar” that I told you all about a while back) are offered for me to share as well.  And today?  I have an offer to share with you from Kodak for 40% off a photobook through the end of August. (8.31.2011)  

A photobook?  I know you are wondering the connection between that and blogging.  Really  – I guess a lot of bloggers use photobooks to capture their recipes and photos (cool, but I didn’t do that).  I, on the other hand, have use photobooks in the past to capture our lives.  I have made two photo books total in our life.  Now three.  And the third one is thanks to Foodbuzz (that side ad you see to the right) and Kodak Galleries. (For the sake of full disclosure, I was given a free 20 page photobook to write this review/post.)

La Push with Uncle John

First adventures on the beach with Uncle John (LaPush, WA)

So I took the chance to document our lives for the kids.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the hundreds of digital family pictures we have.  (Mostly of us hanging out together….or eating.  Huh.  Imagine that.. .a food blogger taking photos of her kids eating.  lol)

I am fearful that as technology changes, I won’t be able to access my old photos easily.  Or worse…what if I lose them all?  Oh sure, I could burn a dozen or more DVDs with our photos on them.  Or store them on an external hard drive (I already do), but then they are viewable.  And I’m realizing that my kids are really enjoying looking at pictures.

Monorail - Seattle

With Momma waiting for the monorail, Seattle

Recently, my mother-in-law, father-in-law and our three nieces (ages 9 and two 2 year old twins) came to visit.  My in-laws were shocked at how easily the Chicklet remembered them since she hadn’t seen them for a year.  I told them that I was certain it is because I’ve printed pictures of her with them and posted them at her eye-level in the kitchen on the dishwasher, etc.  (Love those magnetic photo sleeves you can get.)

With more family from Chicago visiting, and photos from when my parents/family were here this Spring, I want to figure out how to keep these pictures and have them accessible for the kids.  Thus the photobook.

Seattle Center

Hanging out with Daddy in the Seattle Center

The kids will remember the playgrounds and the actvities, but I don’t want them to forget the people.  Just in the last month, we’ve had some fabulous little adventures the Chicklets and I.

I made my photobook with the “autopilot” light on – the kids were underfoot and busy seeking my attention, the noodles were just about ready to boil over and the phone rang.  You know the moment:  when your brain say “DONE” and you just go for it.

And the Kodak program was easy.  I made a medium photo book (they gave me a free 20 pages medium book for this experience/post – full disclosure) with 40 pages.  I let Kodak do the layout by selecting the option to have the photos upload chronologically.  And then I ordered two copies.  I’m thinking photobooks might be the way I go.  If we can afford to do it, I will order two for each “yearbook” for family adventures.  One for each of the girls when they grow up.

What do you do?  How do you share your photos?

If you are interested in the Kodak offer to get 40% off a photobook, check out this link.  The offer is valid through 8.31.2011.