Wow! Half-way through 31 Days!  I am really enjoying this discipline to write everyday, something I have been “meaning to do” for some time.  I just never set aside the time to do it!

Today’s post is about that: TIME.  Remember this guy?

I’ve always loved those commercials, being a baker’s granddaughter and daughter, of men who DID really get up to make donuts in the middle of the night!  My grandfather made the donuts (and bread) for the restaurant my parents eventually took over for them.  And then, my DAD was making the donuts and bread!

Nowadays, what I love about this particular commercial is that as a wife and mother of 3 growing kids (one a teenage boy), I feel like that about baking/cooking just about everything.  Every time time I turn around , it is “time to make the _________” again!  I am always hearing  “Mom, I’m hungry.”   My answer has been turning into “Didn’t I feed you yesterday?!”

What with making everything so much from scratch, both for healthier living and avoiding food allergens, it can sometimes feel like I spend my whole life in the kitchen.  This can leave me feeling very stressed, because as you know, there are other things on my to do list beyond making food.  This is what led to my “healthy, frugal or happy” idea, in making decisions.  But I have also worked on some habits than can take stress out of my week regarding food.  These are not original ideas at all, and you can find many ideas in general for less stress at dinner time on hundreds of blogs.  But, until I actually did them, I didn’t quite catch onto how much power these habits have in handling food allergies.  Even more so, than for regular cooking!

The most important habit for me is menu planning.  (I know, nothing new there, right?)  I have more or less done menu planning during my mothering years, but I never included breakfast and lunch.  The trouble with not planning breakfast and lunch, is that it is  much harder to “just make do” with food allergies!  There is almost nothing I can quickly grab somewhere in a drive-through, or grocery store.  (Not to mention, those kind of stops quickly destroy my budget!)  And not having the right things on hand, means I can’t even stop to make something I can eat.  Oh how many times did I tear up in frustration of “there is nothing I can eat here!”

Supporting this habit of planning all my meals, (even trying to include snacks) is the routine of setting aside time to plan.  Planning 21 meals (plus snacks) for a week, for five people, cannot be done in 5 minutes before running to the store.  I have a weekly plan based roughly on Flylady’s plan. On Wednesday I clean out my fridge, which helps me see what I have on hand to use up, and what basics are missing (like ketchup, salad dressing, rice milk etc)  Then I plan my menu, and make a grocery list.  I shop the next day.  I have found trying to do all of that on one day stresses me out. Whenever I stray from this routine, with murmurs of “I don’t have time,” I end up having a lot of food-related stress.  (Like this week… sigh… I am such a slow learner some times) 🙂  I take into account activities going on, which days I need to use my crockpot etc.  Sometimes the plan may shift, but I at least have all the stuff in the house for those meals on the list, even the shift from one day to another.

                                                                          (Weekly routine in a frame on the wall, with my larger framed menu planner above.  All of my planning tools hang on the wall… I blogged about why that is here.)

The other thing I have to do, is plan time to make things ahead. Again, not a brilliant or new idea, right?  But this totally transforms my week if I will do this.  I’ll plan a day to make granola, or a couple batches of muffins.  Then I can freeze things, and have allergy-friendly food ready at a moment’s notice.

I also make double batches of things and freeze half of it.  It really doesn’t take much extra time to double the ingredients!  I mentioned I do this while making waffles etc as well.  Cook once, and eat twice, or three times!

I buy tools that make the cooking easier. I have not done this all at once, but over the past few years.  A separate post coming this month on the tools that have made my cooking easier, faster and less stressful!

What about you?  Do you menu-plan?

This is part of a 31 Days series on Less Stress in Allergy-Free Eating.  To view a list of all the posts in the series you can go here. To subscribe to my posts via email, you can go to my homepage, and type in your email address in the box on the right-hand margin.  To view the list of over 700 bloggers participating in this 31 Days blogging challenge go here!


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