The reality of being on a gluten free diet is having less processed food, less eating out and more time cooking in the kitchen. For busy families that can be overwhelming! Here is an essential busy family survival guide to chopping down time in the kitchen.
Tip #1 Plan your meals
By this I mean, write down 5 or 6 meals ideas for your week. Keep it simple.
Here is an example:
Spaghetti with gluten free pasta, salad
Chicken thighs with mashed potatoes and broccoli
Grilled cheese sandwich with carrot sticks
Fill in your breakfasts, lunches and snacks with staples from your pantry. Check your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you need and form your grocery list around that.
This saves you significant time grocery shopping and thinking of what to make everyday for dinner.
Tip #2 Shop only once a week
No brainer? I am often surprised how many times people stop at the grocery store on their way home from work to pick up a few things (or many things thanks to impulse buys $$) and that is such a TIME KILLER! Each time you go in a grocery store you are spending at LEAST 15 minutes in there.
Plan ahead. Make your grocery list for the week. Stick to it.
Even better? Use an online grocery ordering service! In Canada I love using Superstore (not sponsored I just like the service!) because I can shop from home while my little one sleeps and my groceries come out to me in the parking lot within 5 minutes. So fast.
Tip #3 Use frozen vegetables or fruit
I’m not sure why people often over look this option in the grocery store. Fresh isn’t always more nutritious! Especially in the middle of winter when most produce is out of season.
Frozen vegetables and fruits are harvested and preserved at the peak of their freshness! Gentle steaming them or blending them into a smoothie is the best way to preserve the vitamins and minerals during cooking.
I love stir-fry mix, frozen peas, mixed berries and frozen kale for smoothies.
Tip #4 Cook once, eat twice
This tip can save you hours in the kitchen. By taking a couple of minutes to double up on whatever you are making can eliminate whole cooking sessions!
Baking muffins? Double up and bake two dozen instead of one and stock your freezer.
Making soup? Make a big pot and freeze in containers for lunch or supper.
Roasting a chicken? Roast two and use the leftover for lunch or supper the next day or shred and freeze for quick burritos, quesadillas or slow cooker recipes.
Chopping up veggies? Double up and have leftover salad, carrot sticks, celery sticks, sweet potato, etc for the next few days.
Making spaghetti? Make a big pot of sauce and freeze the leftovers or use it later in the week.
A little prep work can go a long way.
Tip #5 Prep ahead for your week
Imagine coming home from work to see your carrots and potatoes already peeled and chopped.
Imagine waking up in the morning and thanking yourself for prepping ingredients for a smoothie on the weekend.
Imagine making your lunches and quickly grabbing containers of chopped fruit and vegetables all ready to go!
This can be a reality. Take an hour on Sunday and dedicate it to doing some prep work. Peel, chop, divide up some produce. I guarantee that it makes a huge difference.
Tip #6 Use your slow cooker (or instant pot!)
Imagine coming home from work to see your supper already done! No mad dash to get supper cooking before dance or soccer practice…supper is already cooked and ready to eat.
Dust off that slow cooker friends! This will save you on those crazy days. Prep your meal the night before and start it cooking in the morning. In 8 hours you will have a nice hot meal ready for your family.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy, pinterest worthy recipe. Start simple. Throw some protein like beans, lentils or chicken in there with some stewing vegetables, broth and you will have a yummy stew. Make chili and cook it in there all day while you are at work.
Tip #7 Use quick cooking whole grains.
We all know that whole grains are nutritiously superior to refined grains. But sometimes you don’t have time to wait for brown rice to cook for an hour when you get home from work.
Instead, opt for some quick cooking whole grains that only take 20 to 30 minutes to cook. Try these options….quinoa, millet, buckwheat or amaranth! Boil with water or stock a use as you would rice.
Try something new!
Tip #8 Buy pre-prepped vegetables
There are a lot of options now in the grocery store that can help save you time in the kitchen but still eating healthy.
Pre-packaged salad, spinach, power leafy blends for smoothies
Different kinds of shredded slaws
Chopped stir fry mixes
Baby carrot sticks and sugar snap peas
Chopped and packed broccoli or cauliflower
Jarred minced garlic or ginger
Frozen chopped squash
Frozen cauliflower rice
The list goes on!
Did you find this helpful? If so let me know in the comments. Tell me what your best tips are for saving you time in the kitchen.
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