5 easy tips for planning healthy GF meals
By popular request from our ‘ Be Well Gluten Free ’ closed Facebook group, today’s topic aims to demonstrate that planning your meals for the week is actually much easier than you might imagine. When you consider that we’re mostly creatures of habit, we’re mostly short on time and we mostly would rather eat healthily, then a little bit of planning goes a long way.
Tip 1 – keep good food handy
Keeping a fully stocked pantry is always a good place to start, and sitting down and making a list of the types of meals that you and your family enjoy won’t go astray either. You’ll find a list of GF pantry items up under ‘files’ in the ‘ Be Well Gluten Free ’ closed Facebook group. This should get you started and you can add to it with personalised yummies for your favourite meals.
Such a well-stocked pantry means you can always make a yummy and nutritious meal at short notice, even without having been to the supermarket. Examples include omelettes, beans on toast, pasta dishes and many more. Don’t forget to re-stock though after using up those favourites!
Tip 2 – keep a list of your top ten current favourite/easy to prepare meals
Now’s a good time to have a little reflection and think back to the last few weeks writing down what you had each night. Out of that list you’ll probably find at least 4-5 favourites.
Staple meals in our house usually include meals like spaghetti Bolognese (where we’ve made a huge pot of the meat and lentil sauce that lasts frozen for 4 meals), barbequed meat/fish and salad, homemade fried rice (using leftovers and is more leftovers and veggies than rice), roast meats and veggies, one pot salads such as Nicoise, stir fries with loads of veggies, amazing soups, curries and casseroles. So that in itself is at least 9 easy meals, and variations on them will provide even greater variety.
Tip 3 – make each meal a balanced one
We aim to include one serve of protein, two serves of quality nutritious carbohydrate and loads of vegetables in each meal as is demonstrated in the plate model. This also helps you to follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines to ensure your nutrient sufficiency. Of course everything in our house is gluten free, and we aim to make as many of our carbohydrate choices as low-GI as we can too for the known health benefits .
Tip 4 – shop for what’s in season
Combining those regular ideas with your weekly shop where you can see which foods are the best prices and plan your meals around them for cost-effectiveness and the extra flavour that comes when foods are in season. And don’t be afraid to ‘play’ with your favourite recipes by adding in the ‘in season’ produce – you might create an awesome new recipe without even trying!
Tip 5 – make a folder to put new recipes into to keep your menu interesting
Occasionally, and especially if you’re a Facebook follower, you’ll come across easy, delicious and nutritious recipes posted by others. If you think that these recipes may be considered regulars for your family then print them out and keep them in a handy folder for easy access. This way, if you’re bored with your current ideas, it’s easy to find tried and tested recipes to re-inspire you.
Your list of top favourite meals could be kept at the front of your recipe folder for easy reference, and don’t be afraid to edit it. Handwritten notes add to the character of these precious documents.
I also encourage favourites of your own to be added to our files section in the ‘ Be Well Gluten Free ’ group in case they also appeal to others, and if you’re not sure, ask about ideas in the group and I’m sure you’ll get lots of positive feedback and suggestions.
I love the way Dr Lyndal Parker-Newlyn actually writes on a blackboard in her kitchen what her meals for the week will be. She uses it as a guideline only because life changes so often plans don’t come together, and she keeps a regular stash of leftovers in her freezer for the nights when there isn’t time to prepare a meal.
Being well gluten free should be about enjoying your food and your life, so taking these few easy tips into consideration should help to make your meals healthier and more satisfying without too much effort.
We look forward to your continued participation in the ‘ Be Well Gluten Free ’ group. Sally
Sally is the owner of her private practice, Marchini Nutrition , has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too. She is also Social Media Dietitian with Diabetes Counselling Online , and the dietitian on The Moon and You App and works on ‘ Be Well Gluten Free ’ in her spare time. Personalised consultations, either face-to-face or by Skype, are available by request through Marchini Nutrition .