Gluten-free living ruined instant dinner for me

I am totally committed to providing my family healthy, yummy meals. (And in our relationship, food is my job. I’m happy with that. I love being the one who decides, unilaterally, what I’ll eat and what I’ll buy.) But…everyone has those days when nothing is going right – you slept in, your kid’s been sick all day, your dishwasher overflowed and maybe the dryer started a fire. Or maybe you’re pregnant and just worked a 9 hour shift on your feet and cooking will actually kill you.
But your kid / husband/ you can’t eat gluten so that means pizza, hot dogs, even macaroni and cheese are just non-options…I have been there. I have stared at my fridge with real tears in my eyes, wishing dinner would just materialize. Sure, I could have put on the crockpot this morning, and then I wouldn’t have to cook. But hindsight is 20-20, right? Maybe you’ve already conquered cheap, healthy, gluten free lunch on the road… but dinner is another story. What you need is a list of gluten free staples that will ALWAYS be in your house, to make instant gluten free dinners.

Sometimes, you just need a dinner that DOESN’T require any planning or real effort. And if it needs to be gluten-free, no worries, you’ll be covered from now on. Here’s my list of gluten free staples that I keep in my house and I can make them into a variety of dinners with minimal effort every time.

My essential gluten free staples – “instant” dinner ingredients

  • A bag of unbreaded, unseasoned fish (any kind)
  • A box of unbreaded, unseasoned chicken breast
  • A bag of frozen stir-fry veggies
  • A bag of frozen peas / carrots
  • A bag of baby potatoes (I also keep instant mashed potatoes for when I’m REALLLLLY tired)
  • A package (or 6) of rice noodles
  • A box of Minute Rice
  •  Bragg’s all purpose seasoning (gluten free soy sauce, only better and awesome on everything)
  • a great gluten free BBQ sauce (for the Canadians: we use Amazing Dad’s sauce. For my American friends: I’ll ask around and get you a good recommendation!)
  • Gluten free Stir-fry Sauce. Our favorite brand is San-J.
  • Even though it’s not a “dinner” item Manitoba Harvest Hemp products are amazing. I always have a box of hemp heart bars in the house.

So what sort of instant gluten free dinners can we make?

With just 15 minutes of energy:

→ Oven baked fish ( with garlic salt, lemon, and butter or with maple syrup, Bragg’s all purpose seasoning, and garlic salt.) Serve it with a side of boiled peas / carrots and EASY home-made potato wedges.

→ BBQ chicken and stir-fry veggies on rice noodles. (This one might sound like it’ll take real cooking effort but it totally won’t. Thaw the chicken for 2 minutes in the microwave, put it on the BBQ with some gluten free BBQ sauce. While the chicken is BBQing, boil the kettle to “cook” your rice noodles (you just soak them for 3 minutes in boiled water and then drain…it’s not cooking). And ten minutes before the chicken is done you can stir fry your veggies with your stir fry sauce!

→ Pan-fried fish with stir fry veggies and minute rice. (Suspiciously similar to the meal above! But not the same…use your Bragg’s sauce on your stir fry instead of stir fry sauce to shake it up a bit.)

→ Oven baked chicken and veggies with baby potatoes. Thaw chicken in the microwave for a few minutes. Place chicken, frozen veggies and halved baby potatoes in casserole dish. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (for this dish I use Italian salad dressing, but anything would work). Bake at 375 for half hour (or until chicken and potatoes are cooked).

When you have NO minutes of energy:

→ BBQ chicken, boiled peas / carrots and instant mashed potatoes can be dinner. And lots of butter, to hide the fact that there was no effort involved 😉

→ Fish with minute rice and Bragg’s all purpose seasoning. (One night of no veggies won’t kill you. Or mix some peas /carrots in when the rice is almost done. Or chop up some carrot sticks!)

I’m not suggesting you put NO effort into your meals every evening, but when you’re learning to live gluten free the initial shock of losing instant dinners can be kind of difficult. It will get easier – I promise! What are your favorite instant gluten free dinners?

Gluten Free Dinners