Registered Dietitian, Allison J Stowell, provides us with a 5-day streamlined dinner/lunch blueprint for back to school!
Preparing for a new school year is a bit overwhelming. After you have shopped for all the right school supplies, you have to figure out how to manage your new schedule. While this is a tough transition for anyone, when a gluten-free family goes back to school it takes even more preparation and planning.
As a working mom of a celiac family, I know all too well that the start of the school year means my plan/shop/cook skills need to go back into high gear. As a retail dietitian, I know that yours do too. Let’s face it…as a gluten free family it’s not so easy to pick up foods on the go, and buying school lunch is usually not a safe option.
This school year, let’s make this transition easier by creating a plan that seamlessly turns tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s lunch, and streamlines your week to ensure you can provide your gluten-free family nutritious, balanced meals.
Begin by picking a day to review your schedule, identifying the nights you need a quick dinner as well as the nights you have more time to prep. Next, use your dinner to set the stage for tomorrow’s lunch (and maybe next dinner). The best way to illustrate this is with a blueprint for a balanced week that allows you to cook once and eat a whole bunch of times…
Enjoy the last days of summer with a meal of grilled meat and vegetables along with corn on the cob (make too much of everything!).
Prep for tomorrow: during clean up, scrape kernels off extra cobs, and dice some of the chicken and vegetables. Combine corn kernels with low sodium black beans.
School lunch: “Tex-Mex” salad of lettuce topped with corn/beans salad, sprinkled with shredded cheddar and a dollop of salsa (serve with GF corn chips)
Dinner: Long day? Bring dinner together quickly when leftover diced chicken and veggies become tonight’s pizza topping. Top GF flatbreads to make this easy and serve along with “no knife needed” veggies like baby carrots, sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes.
Prep for tomorrow: While the veggies are out, pack some in reusable containers. Then, combine grape tomatoes with fresh mozzarella “pearls” to create a quick “deconstructed” Caprese sandwich (pack GF bread separately).
School lunch: Simply pack the foods you prepped last night.
Dinner: If it’s Tuesday then there is only one option…Tacos! Once again, make more than you need
Prep for tomorrow: Save some taco meat in a microwave safe bowl.
School lunch: Microwave a rice pouch. Reheat taco meat. Combine rice and meat, stir in a bit of salsa and top with shredded cheddar.
Dinner: Simmer sauce supper! Create your own simmer sauce or pick up a GF option at the store (yes, they do exist!). Cook chicken, shrimp or diced tofu. Serve alongside gluten-free noodles or other GF grain.
Prep for tomorrow: Save a leftover portion in a microwave safe bowl.
School lunch: Warm a thermos, heat up last night’s dinner and lunch is made!
Dinner: You’re almost at the finish line! Another busy night for your family? Keep it simple with “salad bar dinner” (otherwise known as fridge clean out!). This dinner lets your family create their own combination, provides something for everyone, works with differing schedules (and is even perfectly portable if you need to eat it on the baseball field!)
Prep for tomorrow: Couldn’t be easier! Make an extra salad and pack dressing on the side
School lunch: Simply pack the extra salad you (or your child!) made the night before
Dinner: Yahoo Friday! You did it…pizza again? Or maybe calzones? Pick up your favorite GF pizza dough and have some fun in your kitchen. (You may even have some leftover veggies you can use from salad bar night!)
How does my celiac family get it done? Last night’s fajitas became today’s Mexican-inspired pizza made on homemade corn tortillas prepared simply using water and masa flour, then pressed flat.
As a Registered Dietitian, Allison J Stowell MS, RD, CDN empowers individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight. A gluten free kitchen consultant, she enables restaurants to follow GF protocols and assists GF families in connecting with safe restaurants. Allison lives in CT with her husband and two children, and knows all too well what’s it’s like to keep a celiac family safe.