I don’t mind cooking when I have all the time in the world. But in real life, I have maybe 20 minutes to get dinner on the table as soon as I get home from work, while my 4 year old continually asks for snacks because she’s “huuuungry.” It’s stressful. My key to dinner-time survival is having everything planned out and purchased (for the most part) on Sundays. I find all of my recipes, and write down the whole meal including sides.
It isn’t the most high-tech way of meal planning, but it works for me. After finding all of my recipes for main dishes and sides, I make a second list of all the ingredients I need at the store, or if I am ordering online for pick-up at a local store, I enter the ingredients into the website.
A few favorites for quick cooking dinners (or lunches) that are gluten-free and nut free include:
- Cauliflower crust pizza made with frozen riced cauliflower. It doesn’t come out crispy and firm like real pizza, but it’s still tasty, allergy friendly, and low calorie as well. You can cover the pizza with roasted red peppers and feta cheese; or go classic with mozzarella and ham or pepperoni.
- Black bean soup made with canned black beans, chicken broth, and onions (along with some spices like cumin and chili powder) is another favorite. I make a big batch that I can eat all week long for lunch or dinner. This is parsley in the pic, but a little cilantro and lime juice on top is delicious as well. Pair with some hard boiled eggs or a salad.
- Pork lo mein is always a hit – cutting up a lean pork loin makes it cook very quickly. My kids love the noodles (I use gluten-free rice/corn pasta, as well as the gluten-free soy sauce).
- The old breakfast-for-dinner standby – BUT – only my kids have pancakes or waffles. For us grown-ups, we enjoy: scrambled eggs with tomatoes and green onions, and a little cream cheese mixed in; egg frittatas with lots of veggies (broccoli, spinach, peppers), herbs, and a little cheese; fun omelettes with a protein mixed in like sausage or ham, and lots of filling veggies. For side dishes that make me happy, I roast a batch of potatoes on Sundays with some olive oil and thyme (or rosemary), and split the batch in two. Then I use them as a side with chicken for dinner (chicken marsala last night), and as a side with our breakfast-for-dinner (Greek style frittata two nights ago).
- My son’s all time favorite dinner is breaded chicken, sauteed in olive oil, with rice and green beans on the side. To make the breaded chicken, I make sure to buy the thin-cut chicken breasts so the chicken cooks way faster. I also always have on hand GF breadcrumbs for the breading. If it is plain, I mix in some Italian seasoning. A word of caution – if you are also allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, some of the GF brands have a warning that the breadcrumbs were processed in a facility with nuts. I had to switch brands when my daughter was diagnosed with her allergies as the peanut allergy is severe.
One last word – never feel like you have to follow a recipe to the letter. If there is a faster way to do it, I am there. When a recipe tells me to cook rice? I laugh, and pull out an already-cooked rice packet for the microwave. I have NEVER riced my own cauliflower for cauliflower crust pizza. There are multiple frozen riced cauliflower packages available in the freezer aisle that work really well and smell a lot less strongly than fresh cauliflower!