I originally intended for this follow-up post to the babywearing post to come a little sooner, but food photography and rainy days don't really go well together, so we are going to just appreciate this picture of my slow cooker and get on with it already. Yes? So here we go: post no. 2 in the series about how we manage around these parts. For the inspiration behind these posts, please take a quick peek at the original from a couple of weeks ago.
As many of you may remember, we have been presented with various dietary hurdles to jump in the last year. In late November, my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Then, around March or so, the baby was found to be allergic to eggs and dairy. However, I find that in order to control his eczema, I also need to eliminate corn and legumes from my diet. Dan has a severe tree nut allergy, so those are out as well. In other words, the cooking and eating of meals has the potential to be a very complicated business for our family, if we let it. But we really can't. It just isn't an option when five to eight p.m. is by far already the most challenging part of the day around here.
The natural answer has been to move in the direction of a diet that incorporates simplicity to a higher degree and that is primarily whole foods based. As much as I actually do enjoy putting together a four layer lasagna with homemade sauce and fresh ricotta, it just isn't going to be happening here in the forseeable future. And even if we could eat that, the baby would never allow me the time to make it. Thus, my newfound affection for the slow cooker.
The way things work? Really, it goes like this:
- Breakfasts tend to be fairly simple. Zak often eats some fruit or an avocado. Mariam often eats an avocado sliced on gluten-free bread and then toasted with some cheese. Since we eat more individually at this meal, the dairy eating folks can get their cheese in here.
- Lunches are usually leftovers from the previous evening's dinner, or some days, a quick sautee of olive oil and whatever produce we've picked at the garden that morning.
- Dinner. This is the big one. Unless Dan is on call at the hospital, we pretty much eat at home, as a family, every night. And everyone eats the same thing. Also, if I don't plan ahead, our entire evening turns to the chaos of doom at five o'clock on the dot. So, many days I make dinner in the slow cooker at around 1 p.m. When I say many days, I actually mean almost every day. And it has saved us from various crippling forms of insanity.
What goes in the crockpot? Well, despite my being a reluctant meat eater, there isn't really any way for me to avoid it right now when so many grains and legumes are eliminated for us and dairy, egg and nut proteins are not options for whole family meals. So, we eat a lot of things like Thai-style chicken curry, we do taco night with slow cooked meat simmered in salsa and in the winter, we will likely do a number of soups and stews. Maybe by then we'll be able to venture into legume territory with less trepadation.
There are a few resources that have been particularly helpful in getting into a habit of crockpot cooking, and here is a little list:
I find it works especially well to plan for a week or two of slow cooker meals from these resources at once, and then I can minimize trips to the grocery store during the week. If I plan well, I can sometimes get away with only going once, which is nice.
So, that's the gist of it. An evolving system, but one that is definitely a step in the right direction for us.
How does it work at your house? If you have tips for getting dinner on the table with minimal late day fuss from tired family members, I'm sure that everyone would love to hear about it!