Let’s face it, it is nice to eat out! It is fantastic to not have to think about: what to make, shop for the ingredients, cut, chop and put the recipe together, standing and cooking, or do any of the clean up afterwards! Eating out is awesome as far as all of this goes! I love that there are no dishes to do, when we eat out!
My goal, before being diagnosed with celiac disease and going gluten free, 15 years ago, was to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. I didn’t like to cook! 15 years ago there weren’t a lot of options when it came to eating out and it was much, much less safe to do so. Awareness about celiac and gluten intolerance has helped in providing better gluten free products and options all around!
With that being said, there are a lot of benefits to cooking gluten free at home!
Benefits to Cooking at Home
- Safety from cross contamination
- Less cross contact
- Improve cooking skills
- Healthier lifestyle
- Family time
Finances- a Benefit to Cooking Gluten Free at Home
It is expensive to eat out! Gluten free dishes often cost more when eating out. The reason for this is because gluten free products cost more for everyone! It isn’t a straight across substitution to have a gluten free pizza crust versus a regular pizza crust. It costs a lot more for them to offer these substitutions.
Not to mention, that if the staff is well trained, your food needs more attention to detail in order to cut down on chances of cross contact.
Safety From Cross Contamination
When in your own kitchen, you have a system. If you don’t, you should. I have an all gluten free house, because everyone in our family has gluten intolerance to one degree or another. I know that there is no gluten in my kitchen and this is important in our family.
If you have a family where only you or a couple of family members are gluten free, gluten free foods should be clearly marked: jam, peanut butter, anything that can be double dipped with a knife or other utensil. This is a common way to spread cross contamination from gluten products to gluten free products. I recommend having a black sharpie in the kitchen and clearly marking “GF” on your strictly gluten free products. Then, educate the family on why they can’t use that peanut butter to make their gluten sandwich.
Less Cross Contact
You don’t have to worry about whether or not the people handling your food, understand how to properly handle your food! Gloves must be changed! Fresh ingredients that haven’t had a chance for gluten to be introduced should be used. Do NOT make my food on the same counter you just had gluten. You can’t brush off gluten crumbs and then touch gluten free foods.
My daughter got sick doing S’mores with college roommates because they were using the same bag of marshmallows. The other girls touched their graham crackers and then reached in the marshmallow bag. That is all it takes!
Improve Cooking Skills
Cooking gluten free at home is a great opportunity to improve your cooking skills. There are so many ways you can do this, but the biggest thing is trying and doing.
- Take a gluten free cooking class
- Read blogs to understand the differences between how you cooked before and cooking gluten free
- Watch Youtube cooking demonstrations
- Watch the food channel for ideas
- Learn how to make substitutions
- Take a chance and try a new recipe
- Join gluten free Facebook pages
- Have a meal prep day/evening or weekend
- Get the family involved in the process of preparing dinner
Have you ever noticed how much better everything tastes when it is homemade. When I was first diagnosed and had to cook gluten free, I found cooking from scratch to be cumbersome and frustrating. Over time (at least a year), it got easier. I planned into dinner the time it would take to make my own creamed soup and figured out what I could do while that was cooking.
We use fresh ingredients and eat more fruits and vegetables. My daughter had a friend who loved to eat at our house, because they never had vegetables at her house. We also use a lot less processed foods. We haven’t exchanged all our old processed gluten ingredients for processed gluten free ingredients. This is also more economical to make as much as we can ourselves.
We have tried more things and experimented more. I can make gourmet pizzas, Lasagna (which used to terrify me), Korean food, and so much more. It is fun to have a varied menu!
We have tried to make dinner more of a family time. It was more challenging when we were eating out frequently. Grabbing a meal in the car and running from place to place. Sure you are together, but it isn’t always as meaningful as when you are sitting face to face and talking.
I have loved our family dinner times. My older two girls usually sit at the one end by me and the younger two sit at the other end of the table by my husband. My older girls and I have a joke that our end of the table is the fun end. There is usually more laughing, teasing and so forth at our end of the table.
Memories and relationships can be strengthened around the table in your home atmosphere, in a different way than what happens in public. Everyone is more open, for better or worse. Sometimes the worst times open up the way for better times and more communication.