One of our DIY salad platters. (Ignore the bread this month, 'kay?)

It’s that time again, friends — monthly meal plan time.  I was afraid this month’s plan, since it encompasses a significant portion of our 6-week GF/CF challenge with L., would be ridiculously challenging for me to write.  I actually procrastinated about doing it, something that almost never happens; since I started writing meal plans for this family seven-odd years ago, it has rarely been a source of stress for me.  Keeping up with the meal planning gives me a sense of calm and order.  In fact, it’s usually a stress RELIEVER, believe it or not.  (I never claimed to be normal, okay?)

But this month…I was holding my breath.  In the midst of feeling excited that it’s nearly time for my favorite Farmer’s Market to open, and in the midst of being happy that the warmer weather will soon be moving into Rhode Island and making it easier and more pleasant to eat lighter, fresher foods, I was nervous about how to actually plan and execute almost a whole month’s worth of gluten and casein free fare for us.  Since we were handed the challenge just over three weeks ago, I’ve taken things in small bites, so to speak — tweaking the existing menu a little here and there, cautiously branching out into the territory of trying to adapt my usual easy recipes for wheat-based items so they’d be safe for L. to eat.  It didn’t feel so scary that way.  But a whole MEAL PLAN, done GF/CF style?  Hyperventilating.

Of course, once I sat down to do it, I discovered that it wasn’t SO bad.  Sure, the first several things that came to mind were dishes I’d love to make right now, that are just not appropriate for this diet.  But in the end, what was hard about it was my own mentality.  I was tripping myself up by thinking about what we COULDN’T eat as opposed to focusing on what we can.  And once I refocused my thinking on all the stuff I’d usually cook for L. if he had his way, I realized that there’s still a whole big world of food out there that we can all enjoy, GF/CF challenge or not.

Tuesday, 5/1: Slow cooker — the boys have been hounding me for meatballs in marinara.  We’ll forego any sort of starch item with them and just eat the meatballs, sauce, and sauteed kale.
Wednesday, 5/2: Lettuce wraps filled with spicy shrimp, fruit
Thursday, 5/3: I’ve got a dress rehearsal, so I’m leaving a quick and easy favorite — antipasto pasta salad, using the Jovial brand of brown rice pasta we’ve come to enjoy in the past few weeks.
Friday, 5/4: I’ll be out again for another rehearsal, but the guys can do fend night without me.
Saturday, 5/5: Out AGAIN for the last performance of the year.  I’ll put a pork shoulder in the slow cooker that morning so we can all eat Apple-barbecue Pork Tacos — me before I leave, the guys after I’m out the door.
Sunday, 5/6: L.’s favorite flank steak on the grill, with oven fries and veggies
Monday, 5/7: Turkey patties with mushrooms and caramelized onions, greens
Tuesday, 5/8: Slow cooker — red beans and rice, sauteed veggies
Wednesday, 5/9: DIY Salad platter
Thursday, 5/10: GF/CF chicken nuggets, roasted vegetables
Friday, 5/11: Fend night
Saturday, 5/12: Opening day of our Farmer’s Market!  I’m hitting the local seafood vendor for a celebratory fish supper (the one at the link isn’t GF/CF, but it’s just an example).
Sunday, 5/13: Mother’s Day.  I just batted my eyes at J. and asked very nicely if I could have the night off.  Luckily, he’s a good and wise husband, so we’re on the same page.
Monday, 5/14: Potato pancakes, bacon, and salad
Tuesday, 5/15: Slow cooker — chicken cacciatore over brown rice pasta
Wednesday, 5/16: Skillet pork chops with mustard sauce and veggies
Thursday, 5/17: Quinoa jambalaya
Friday, 5/18: Fend night
Saturday, 5/19: I can’t help it.  I’ll have to cook fish again.  Once the market season is on and that fisherman is there peddling his wares, I’m powerless to resist.
Sunday, 5/20: Chicken tikka masala and mango lassis (I’ll make L.’s with coconut milk)
Monday, 5/21: Stuffed peppers and salad
Tuesday, 5/22: Slow cooker — turkey chili with avocado
Wednesday, 5/23: Cheesesteak “hash” and vegetables
Thursday, 5/24: Spaghetti marinara over brown rice pasta
Friday, 5/25: Fend night
Saturday, 5/26: You guessed it.  If it’s market day, it’s fish day.
Sunday, 5/27: Sunday Roast Chicken
Monday, 5/28: Stir-fry and brown rice
Tuesday, 5/29: Slow cooker — Tomato lentil soup
Wednesday, 5/30: By this point, L. should be able to start a rechallenge of gluten and casein.  I figure we’ll start slow, so I’m thinking I’ll make a baked (not breaded) chicken parmigiana with mozzarella cheese.
Thursday, 5/31: Grilled local sausage and peppers

That’s the plan!  Before I sign off, though, I MUST remind you all that my official limited edition T-shirts to benefit the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and their nutrition education programs in schools are only on sale for the next TEN DAYS.  Buy a shirt and support better food for kids across the country.