Tag Archives: Dinner

Gluten free weeknight meals & budgeting

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So this blog post should really be a post of the numerous ways the month of September has come and is exiting before my head has been able to wrap itself around it all.  Surely I am not the only mom who finds herself witnessing myself both coming and going in the middle of the dark of night, right?

My new purse is even sporting some tag-along buddies.  I don’t think I go anywhere any more without things packed into my purse that aren’t really mine.  And despite the extra poundage, I wouldn’t really change the rest of it.

Now THIS is a MOM purse

Well, maybe I’d change my sleep schedule:  to bed late (or early) and it takes me forever to fall asleep and up no later than 5AM or we are ALL off late for the day already.  A change with these hours would be helpful, but I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Teaching doesn’t end with the kids leave… or even when my kids finally crash and go to bed.  (PS…they have been in bed for 45 minutes now… and the Chicklet just asked via the monitor “Hey Mom, what’s my cake going to look like?”  “Your cake?”  “Yes, for my birthday.”  “Babe….your birthday is in May.  It’s September. We have a while to think about it, okay?” = this is the kind of thing that never ends around here….LOL)  Evidence:  apple slices + goofy face photos…despite a few attempts we don’t have ONE photo for BOTH smiling nor BOTH making a goofy face at the same time.  Egad.

Apple slices + goofy faces

So I decided to share my working mom “Sanity Saver” meals.  I’ve been asking and posting here when I thought my world was careening off track, but seldom have I posted when I have done it right (finally) for a month.  I challenged myself this month to get the meals down and stick to them.

Next month, I am challenging myself to:

  • only go to the grocery store every 10 days to 2 weeks
  • STICK to my grocery budget – and SAVE every penny that I don’t spend in an account for a family trip
  • stick to my meal plan (come high water or sleep exhaustion)
  • stick to a reduced (extremely) budget for “eating out”

Seriously.  I’m starting at ZERO here people.  There is only room to grow, right?

Some of you are experts at all of the above (budgeting, time-management, meal-planning, saving (!), etc) but these are things I tend to stick to for a short time and then meander down some random thought-path-etc and I blow it.  We have had TWO four-day vacations/trips in the last EIGHT YEARS of our lives.  (My Love does NOT get time off from work.)  But we’ve had SO much fun on these rapid-paced trips to see family (my parents/his parents) that we want to do it more often.  And now the girls have seen an ad for Disney Land and CarsLand.

Yeap.  My budget better get in gear.  NOW.

Want to follow along on my endeavor?  Care to add your two cents/tips?  I’d love to hear them!

Okay… enough meandering.  Some of you are just here for the list of my weeknight go-to meals.  Take note:  the meals on this list HAD to be able to be prepared and ready to go in under an hour (or toddler + mom meltdown ensures).  Well, here it is:

  1. fajitas (chicken or flank steak)
  2. enchiladas
  3. taco salad
  4. one-pot rice dish (random meat/tofu, rice, veggies – a la jambalaya)
  5. tarragon chicken tenders
  6. Bo-jay-fan (Chinese one-pot chicken/rice/sausage/mushroom)
  7. pork chops and apples
  8. steamed fish + tofu
  9. split pea soup (thank you crock pot)
  10. jambalaya
  11. quinoa salad (a la fried rice/couscous – NOTE couscous is NOT gluten free!)
  12. pasta salad (schars or jovial)
  13. parfait (yogurt + granola)
  14. pancakes (corn ones here) or waffles (to save time, i’ve made “waffles” in a panini pan with pancake batter )
  15. chicken chili
  16. mongolian beef (marinate night before or immediately upon returning home for 45 min at least)
  17. spaghetti (schars, jovial or homemade on the weekend)
  18. lasagna (no boil/lazy method – make ahead, pop in oven)
  19. pot pie (make ahead OR make muffin-sized (lunch/dinner) OR make with crescent roll dough  for last minute)
  20. roasts (pork loin is our favorite as faster than whole chicken, etc)
  21. meatballs and mashed/roasted potatoes
  22. kebabs
  23. tortilla española (potatoes, eggs, onions, seasoning) – leftovers are great lunches too
  24. shrimp and grits
  25. chicken marsala
  26. risotto
  27. lettuce wraps
  28. migas
  29. corned beef (crock pot or reheat after cooking on Sunday), roasted cabbage
  30. curried chicken
  31. beef and broccoli
  32. spicy green beans and tofu
  33. arroz con pollo
  34. baharat chicken or lamb
  35. chowder (Chinese corn, OR salmon/fish, etc – whatever you got and put it in a pot!)
  36. arepa sandwiches
  37. jibaro sandwiches (plantains, flank steak, etc)
  38. burgers (bean or beef) (speedy buns – done in the oven while I grill/cook burger or pao-d-quejo buns – quick too!)
  39. beef stroganoff but served over rice, mashed potatoes, steamed cauliflower/broccoli in lieu of noodles
  40. teriyaki chicken (or whatever is on hand)
  41. quiche
  42. fried rice
  43. ….leftovers!  (the great list ender…I try to use up leftovers for lunch, but often there is a bit more)

I hope this list helps someone else pull a menu plan together.  My trusty purple spiral bound notebook and I roam the aisles of the grocer trying to make sure I have it all together.  Maybe that will be what I share next?  Ay!  Who knows!

Hopefully now that I am getting my feet under me at school the next blog post won’t be delayed as long as this one has been.  I’m sorry – and THANK YOU for sticking with me.

Happy GF Eating 
~Kate

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.