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Sunday is food shopping day (er, night) in my house. My husband took this on years ago – it’s his job. He is better at it than me – faster, more organized, more clinical (he’s an engineer). I get distracted. I’m too interested in new stuff on the store shelves, I meander, I like to read labels on items I don’t even buy just because it’s interesting – even the junk, because I’m amazed by what passes for food, what fills the aisles, what people are buying. I take too long and spend too much. He fired me.

He also sits us both down before the shop, to pin down exactly what our meals will be for the coming week. That can be the hardest part – we blank out. So we keep a list of dinners made over the years and add to it often, when we find a new idea we all like. This has really helped my family eat well. We are spendy on good organic food, and don’t eat out often – something not all families can swing – but just the act of choosing what’s for dinner a week in advance is a worthy time, money, and health saver. Here’s some ideas to get you started – in my house, these meals have to be free of gluten, soy, corn, dairy, and most nuts.

Salmon with saffron sauce and chick peas

…Salmon with saffron sauce and chick peas (Recipe from Hummus and 65 Other Delicious Recipes) with brown rice

…Minestrone Soup from scratch (Recipe from Special Needs Kids Eat Right) with GF Chebe rolls (store bought mix)

…Meatloaf (Recipe from Special Needs Kids Eat Right) with quinoa cooked in chicken broth, green salad, green beans. Sounds pedestrian but try this recipe. It’s good.

…Vegetable Frittata over GF Penne (use any veggies but we like asparagus, onion, spinach, mushroom, and pepper)

…Lentil Shepherds Pie with green salad (here’s the basic idea of this recipe; we use So Delicious or Silk coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, ghee, and green beans instead of corn)

…Pork or Chicken Adobo with brown rice and baked sweet potato

…Spaghetti and meatballs (from Special Diets for Special Kids), green salad, summer squash with oregano, Chebe rolls

…Curried chick pea skillet dinner (from Special Needs Kids Eat Right) over spiral GF pasta

…Coconut chicken curry with sweet potato over rice

…Thai red curry sauce over mahi or haddock (if available) from Blanchard’s A Trip To The Beach with GF risotto and ginger carrots (slice fresh carrots into skillet with olive oil and fresh ginger slices. Add a dusting of curry powder, dash honey, and enough chicken broth to keep from sticking. Cook to desired softness over medium heat).

Adding lemon slices while cooking chicken picatta makes it even better

…Portuguese kale soup (recipes abound, our own version is in Special Needs Kids Eat Right), Chebe rolls.

…Kale calzones with brown rice green pea salad

…Roast chicken, potato, onion, carrot – baked in one big Pyrex. We buy a half chicken with skin; the organs that come with it go to the cats.

…GF penne pasta with pesto – we make ours with pine nuts, which are safe in our house (not walnuts), and skip the parmesan in the recipe.

…Stuffed bell peppers (blanch the peppers, then stuff with whatever mixture you like: raisins, bread crumbs, leftover minced pork or ham, pine nuts, cashews, onions, mushrooms, brown rice, your favorite seasonings – then bake), chicken sausage

…More: Lemon chicken picatta, home made chili, pork loin, stuffed pork chops or chicken (we use mushrooms, minced ham, onion, bread crumbs – whatever is on hand); pot roast or beef stew, lentil soup and hot dogs

…A side of fresh vegetable, stir fried greens, and/or fresh garden salad with homemade dressing is almost always on the table, when vegetables are not featured as a main course.

No doubt I am blanking out again as I type, which is why I keep cookbooks on hand that I like to thumb through again and again – like The Victory Garden Cookbook (1982), Yankee Magazine’s Favorite New England Recipes (1972), Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook (2006), Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces (1987), Gluten Free Italian Cookbook (2008), Hummus and 65 Other Delicious Recipes (2006), a now dog eared Joy of Cooking that was given to me in 1979, and many others. Whether you can manage just one or two home cooked meals a month, or several a week, make them special occasions where your family knows they are being cherished with good healthy food.

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