This family meals series continues to be great fun! Today I'm sharing meals that were planned and prepared by my friend Emily. We haven't been friends in person since many years ago (we met at summer camp!), but Facebook has kept us in touch from a distance. Her second daughter is just a tiny bit older than Charlotte, so I love to see what's new in their house so I can prepare for what's to come in our own house :)
Working full time and also being a mom of two young girls makes evenings very hectic. I honestly don’t think that we would ever eat a “from scratch” meal if I didn't plan ahead! I am an RN and recently transitioned from working 12 hour weekend shifts to a weekday desk job, and overall it has allowed more family time with my husband and our one and three year old daughters. It has added the expense of daycare to our budget, which makes menu planning all the more important.
Living in Maine, we totally take advantage of our short grilling season, but the rest of the year I use my crock pot like it’s going out of style! I do grocery shopping and some meal prep on the weekends when my husband and I are home with the girls.
I did a gluten free trial 2 years ago after learning a lot about the paleo diet, and I have stuck with it due to weight loss, mental clarity, and increased feeling of well-being. The rest of my family does not eat strictly gluten free, but our dinners are always gluten free. I find that this mostly means we eat less processed foods. My girls both have broad palates for toddlers, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and meat, and some grains. I like to have on hand a few meal options for when I don’t plan ahead: hot dogs, frozen burger patties, ground beef (for making tacos or taco salad), kielbasa, ham steaks, cans of tuna fish, just to name a few.
This is what our menu looked like last week:
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup : Our 3 year old loves soup and she will eat it as is (albeit messily at times). For my 1 year old, I strain the soup and give her the beans, tomatoes, and chicken. I didn't add jalepenos because the kids don't enjoy too much spicy.
: Chicken Wings
About once a month we take out our deep fryer and do a couple of meals with it. Chicken wings are super easy. After they are cooked through, we just pop them in a mixture of Franks Red Hot Sauce and melted butter for the adults and do plain wings for the girls. Our 3 year old will eat them off of the bone with supervision but we pick the meat off for our one year old. I usually do carrot and celery sticks on the side.
Pepper Steak : I love this because it isn't super involved as far as prep goes, but it tastes amazing and everyone likes it! I cut the black pepper in half since our littles don't love spicy, and serve over rice.
Wednesday: Kielbasa with Peppers and Onions (and sometimes potatoes)
We do kielbasa as an easy weeknight meal in the biggest frying pan we have. In the summer we stick it on skewers with onion and peppers and grill it!
: Bacon Wrapped Chicken
Wrapping chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders in bacon adds awesome flavor and moisture to the chicken. Seriously who doesn't love bacon?! Sometimes we stuff chicken breasts with a little pesto sauce and shredded cheese before wrapping with bacon! Yum! We bake at 350 until they are cooked through, 20-40 minutes depending on what kind of chicken cuts we use. I love serving roasted asparagus, brussel sprouts, or broccoli tossed in EVOO and salt. I cook those at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking.
Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin : Here comes into play the crock pot I love so well! I was never much into pork roasts but this method comes out awesome. My friend suggested using apple cider vinegar or apple juice if you don't cook with wine.
Crock Pot Chicken Fricassee : This is a super easy "throw and go" kind of recipe that is really a crowd-pleaser. It's comfort food for me. A little messy as a finger food, so I usually strain out meat and veggies for my one year old before I add the roux. Leftovers freeze really well, so sometimes I double this for easy lunches. Admittedly, it is harder to thicken this with gluten free flour than wheat flour, so I have used corn starch to thicken to my desired consistency.
And there you have 7 gluten free, family friendly meals!
Thanks so much, Emily! I'm inspired to use my Crock Pot in all sorts of new ways!
NOW! Who wants to share their family meals next?