While I'm not a natural-born planner, it's the only way I know to keep from slipping into mommy chaos mode. Organizing my pantry is step one. Just commit to the idea once and you'll see how it changes the energy in your house. Through the years, the freezer has unquestionably become my best friend — open my freezer door and you'll see why. I've got homemade banana pancakes, vegetable soups, baked pastas and brownies in there, and I can make them dairy-free or gluten-free to accommodate my family's food sensitivies. Once you're all stocked up, all you have to do is make a weekly trip to the supermarket to round out your pantry with fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables, meats and fish. I like to leave a magnetic pad on the refrigerator for the family to jot down anything they want to add to the shopping list.
When Isaiah was about 3 years old, I made him "snack areas" in a lower kitchen cabinet and in the fridge. It gave me the control to choose healthy food and drink options for him and it gave him his first taste of independence. Food allergies or not, we're still a snack-happy family. I learned back then that pre-packing snacks into single-serving portions not only saves waste, but money, too. When it comes to school lunch, I remind myself all the time that Isaiah just wants to fit in with his friends. He has also let me know that he doesn't want to eat lunch with a fork or a spoon. He just wants snacks — anything he can eat with his hands.
Sometimes the experience is more important than the meal itself. The easiest, fastest way to get dinner on the table and make a meal that everyone loves is to keep the food simple. For my family, that usually means a protein, a vegetable and a starch. This could be roast pork loin with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus, or maybe a one-skillet meal like chicken-and-rice tetrazzini. A trick I use to get my family out of our dinner rut is to make breakfast for dinner. It always surprises the kids and breaks up the routine.
With a little planning and culinary inspiration, you can keep your sanity while also keeping your family well-fed with satisfying meals that are allergy-free.
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