Menu Plan Monday

This is not what you think it is.

Or maybe I should say, it’s not what it looks like.

First off, it’s Tuesday. A “Menu Plan Monday” post probably ought to go up on… yes, you guessed it… Monday.

You see, I hit the wall on menu planning about three months ago. Yes, just before the holidays.

No, it wasn’t the holidays that derailed the plan. It was going gluten-free.

Here’s the scenario:

I had a nice little deal worked out where the four of us female-types were working a rotating schedule, so far as meals went. (There are actually five female-types living in our household, but one of them is canine and doesn’t have much to say about the menu, except perhaps that she lusts after everything. And I mean everything. That dog even eats lettuce, when she can get it.)

I assigned “days” to the calendar (one “meat” day, one “poultry” day, one rice/pasta day (could include meat or fish), one crockpot day, and two meatless days. That adds up to six, with the seventh day being a shared meal at church, thus no big meal at home. We’d have leftovers that day, and the meal-maker would plan something special for Sunday afternoon tea.

To start out the system, we brainstormed main dishes in all the main categories, giving us lists to choose from.

It meant I only had to cook one day out of four. At the beginning of the month, we four would sit down with the calendar and pick the meals we wanted to make; no repeats allowed to encourage maximum creativity and variety.

Then a friend suggested that we go gluten free, in an attempt to help Eldest’s ever-worsening migraines and food sensitivities. All the medical doctors were doing was throwing more and more powerful drugs at her problems, and she was getting worse, not better. Frankly, she wasn’t getting any relief at all, and I was worried about the drugs being prescribed, especially after hearing on the news about people dying from those same prescriptions.

This friend said her migraines disappeared after she went gluten-free for other reasons, a nice side-effect, wouldn’t you say? I figured, what harm would it do?

The  migraines dropped off, then disappeared altogether.

But… it meant that I took over all the cooking at the time, to make sure that things really were gluten free. It meant adapting some recipes and learning new ones, and using ingredients I’d never used before, in some cases. The younger two girls were resistant to the idea of going gluten free, and that was also a reason I took over their cooking days.

Two months into the new regime, the Head of the household was diagnosed with gluten problems. Good thing I’d been practicing, eh? I’d worked out a lot of kinks by then and was just about that time tackling the challenge of homemade gluten-free bread.

But man, I’m tired of doing all the cooking. I’m sort of cooking by the seat of my pants, planning the menus a day at a time. The plan has to be in place before 10 a.m. just in case I have to take meat out of the freezer. Learned that from Emilie Barnes or Bonnie McCullough or Deniece Schofield, don’t remember which. Maybe all three.

Got to get back on that horse, even if it means taking the extra time to teach the girls the ins and outs of gluten free cooking. Actually, that’s not such a bad idea. It’s just hard to get over the threshold. You know, that horribly deceptive trap that it’s faster and easier to do it yourself. You fall into that trap, your children don’t learn life skills and you end up as maid-of-all-work while they sit around or contribute to the mess (but not the cleanup).

What I need to do is brainstorm lists of GF main dishes (just as we started out before, with the girls’ input about their favorite meals over the last three months) and then get out the calendar and sit down with the girls, the same as we used to do.

Meanwhile, I looked up a few GF menu planning links and will share them with you, in case you’re in a similar quandary.

Amy’s is a commercial brand — I’ve seen their TV dinners (are they still called TV dinners?) in the freezer section at the local whole foods store. This link is to a two-week menu plan with breakfast, lunch, snack(s), and dinner for each day. The menus include, of course, Amy’s products.

The Gluten Free Diva (link is to her new website) published weekly menu plans in her old blog. Here’s one. Here’s another.

Gluten Free Mommy hosted a GF menu swap, encouraging other bloggers to share their menu plans. This page seems to be old (2007 and 2008 dates) and some of the links are dead, but there are also some links with good info.

If I can get my menu planning back in gear, I’ll post a real “Menu Plan Monday” post next Monday.

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