Saturday, April 6, 2013

Frugal Living - Gluten free batch cooking

I've been absent for several months.  Life has been just plain crazy.  I think things are getting back to normal, so I have several blogs planned.

In the last few weeks I have gone gluten free.  No, I have not been diagnosed with Celiac, but I am doing it because of arthritis in my knees.  When I talked to my wonderful friend, Ruth, she explained to me how going gluten free had helped her Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I suffer from arthritis in both knees, no cartilage in either knee, and my knee caps slide, bone on bone.  I am in pain on a regular basis.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  Within about a week, a lump on my left knee disappeared!

If you are gluten free, you know how expensive some of the products can be. I cook so that we are naturally gluten free, not adding expensive items to our budget.

Today I did my grocery shopping for the next two weeks.  I still use my slow cooker, especially since from the time I get up in the morning, until I get home, it's 12 hours.  I'm too tired to cook.

Here is what I bagged and froze for the next two weeks.  Just click on the title of the recipe to be directed to the recipe website.  These are not my creations, so I want to give credit where credit is due.  All of my meals come straight from the freezer and get dumped into the slow cooker.  They usually cook for about 8 hours on low.

BBQ Pork Chops - This one doesn't need a recipe.  Take some pork chops, put them in a plastic bag and pour on your favorite BBQ sauce.  Our family favorite is Sweet Baby Rays.

Pork Chops Cacciatore

Peach Chicken - I ditched the fresh peaches and used a bag of frozen peaches.  I'm all about saving time.

Cube Steak with Gravy - I ditched the packaged gravy mix and just added beef broth.  I'll add a little slurry of water and cornstarch to thicken it up.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps - This is not a slow cooker recipe, so I don't know how it will turn out.  However, my husband is thrilled with recipe.  It has bacon, brown sugar and chili powder.  It is a bit messy to put together, but it sounds good.

Beef and Broccoli- This is a family favorite. I alternate between stew meat, sirloin, or top round steak.  Depending on what is on sale. They all work out fine.  Go with the cheapest.

Applesauce BBQ Chicken - I used chicken leg quarters because they were cheaper.

Crockpot Mexican Lasagna - I put this together in a dish lined with foil.  When it's frozen, I'll put in a bag, still in the foil.  Then it can be easily transferred to the crock pot.  My husband will put it in when he comes for lunch, since this one doesn't need to cook as long.

Edit:  I discovered if you are cooking this from frozen, it does need to cook for 8 hours.  If you're not freezing it, 4 hours is fine.  

I have some meetings this week and won't be home for dinner, so I have ingredients for spaghetti and pizza since the rest of the family doesn't have to be gluten free.

There are some things that I do to save time.  It doesn't affect my budget very much and the time savings is SO worth it to me.

1) I use slow cooker liners.  They are from Reynolds and they can be found in the aisle where you'd find bags and foil.  They are awesome.

2) I don't measure seasoning.  I have a blend from Costco that I love.  It's an organic no salt seasoning and I use it on everything.  The link is to Amazon if you don't have a Costco near you.  It's a little pricer than Costco, but it is so worth it.

3) I buy pre-sliced when I can, if it's not that much more.  At my favorite Aldi store, the pre-sliced mushrooms are reasonable and save me a bunch of time.  There is also a jar of chopped garlic.  It's only a couple of dollars and worth every bit of it.

The other thing that I love about Aldi is that they carry their own brand of food and most of it is naturally gluten free.  If you're gluten free, you know about hidden gluten.  Aldi's brands don't have it in the places you have been looking.  Not in the Teriyaki sauce, or the chicken broth, or the other hidden places.  It's such a treat to find a naturally gluten free item that you can afford!

4) I make a big batch of rice at one time.  I use long grain rice, so it has to cook for 45 minutes.  I make the entire package at one time, so I'm not spending 45 minutes each night making a small batch.  All I have to do is spice it up.  Some nights I add some diced garlic and a little bit of olive oil, other nights I add veggies, and some nights it goes into the dish I'm making.

I spent a good bit of time making breakfasts and lunches for the next week as well, and those will be coming in future posts.  Enjoy your meals.

If you're on Pinterest, follow me and you'll see some of the recipes I use.  Not all are gluten free.

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