5 Tips for Getting an Allergy-Friendly, Real Food Meal on the Table Fast

The following post is from Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free:

source: Amy Green

One of the biggest obstacles for anyone switching to a gluten-free, allergy-friendly diet is time. At first, searching for ingredients takes time. Figuring out what to cook takes time. Preparing the meal takes lots of time. And if you’re like most of us, you have lots of flops early on.

It’s also likely that you can’t rely on some of the store-bought items you used to. You probably find that much more of what you’re eating is whole foods based. This is a good thing, though it often takes more time to prepare than something out of a box. Now, all you need is a little of that precious time back, right?

Here are 5 ways you can get your allergy-friendly meals on the table quickly.

Meal Plan.

Meal planning is a learned skill. It’s not something that you’ll be able to do quickly and efficiently the first time around. Or the second time for that manner. After time, though, it will become second nature and you’ll even be able to plan your meals while taking a mental inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Try this weekly menu plan, this menu plan with a shopping list, or this series on Meal Planning Made Simple.

Prep ingredients ahead of time.

I don’t always have time to chop all the fresh ingredients that go into our meals on a daily basis. So, when I bring home our groceries for the week I prepare some of the fresh ingredients then. They go into a container with a label that tells me what meal they’re for. When it’s time to cook dinner, I just pull them out of the refrigerator and go.

Get all of the ingredients you need out at once.

Take a cue from Rachael Ray here. If you’ve ever watched 30 Minute Meals, she pulls all of the ingredients she needs at once and then starts cooking. Though I don’t have a staff to put everything in once place before I start cooking, I can waste a lot of time looking for ingredients or going back and forth to the refrigerator.

Make double and triple batches.

Once I find a freezer-friendly meal I like, I make double and triple batches when they’re on my meal plan. The extra gets frozen and pulled out for a quick weekday meal. Soups, some casseroles, quick breads, and most desserts freeze well. For pasta dishes, I make large batches of sauce and then cook off my pasta on the day I’m serving the meal.To keep track of what’s in your freezer, use this freezer inventory list. And, this freezer menu will come in handy too.

Stock your pantry.

It took a while for me to build up my pantry, but now that it’s stocked I can easily and quickly pull together a meal from the ingredients I keep on hand. Whenever I’m running low on an item, I just add it to my weekly grocery list. And, if I don’t have a particular ingredient called for in a recipe, I have something similar that will work. Here’s how I stock my pantry and how I keep track of what I have on hand.

The recipe pictured above is one of our favorite, quick meals – One Pot Chicken Beans & Rice.

What are your top tips for saving time in the kitchen?

A stay-at-home mom, wife, and passionate cook, Amy strives to make each meal healthy and delicious. When she’s not doing laundry, dishes, or caring for her son, she plays around with food in the kitchen developing new recipes, which she shares at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy also publishes The Balanced Platter and authored the book Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less.