Meal Planning Tips for Food Allergy Families
“Mooooooooom, what’s for dinner?"
I bet you didn't realize that when you had a family you’d have to feed that family dinner. Every. Single. Day. . . Forever!
Do you know how many dinners that is?
It’s a lot.
Add food allergies to that and dinner time can quickly become the trickiest part of your day.
Meal planning takes the deciding out of the decision. By planning ahead and making a schedule of meals you can rotate, you have the answer to 'what’s for dinner' right there on the fridge calendar!
Our Best Meal Planning Tips for Food Allergy Families
Create a list of family favorite allergen free meals and with that, a list of ingredients needed for each meal. Sort them into categories focusing on protein -chicken, beef, vegan - and rice/pasta and vegetable will go with each. Keep it simple. The idea here is to take the guess work out of dinner, not become a sous chef or gourmet meal maker.
Set up 'routine meal nights' that everyone can look forward too – Taco Tuesdays, Wacky Pizza Wednesday, Meatless Mondays. Or plant your protein on certain nights - chicken on Mondays, beans on Tuesdays, pasta on Wednesdays etc. Variety keeps it interesting and routine makes it easy!
Print out 3 blank monthly calendars (or find an app for that if you are tech savvy!) and number the weeks 1 through 12. This will give you 3 months of allergen free meals that you can then rotate. Once you finish week 12, start back at week 1.
Place your families favorite allergen friendly meals throughout the meal planning calendars, leaving spaces for new recipes, leftover nights and eating out if you anticipate doing that.
Get help. Use great resources like this one https://www.allergicliving.com/advanced-search/ that allows you to choose the allergens you need to avoid and recipes are generated free of those allergens. This recipe search allows for multiple food allergens to be chosen, making it a great resource for families with multiple food allergies and giving you lots of ideas for new recipes.
Shop smart – create 2 shopping lists. One is a weekly list of essential items you know you’ll need each week for school lunches, after school snacks and core meal items such as fruits, vegetable, gluten free pastas, rice, non dairy milk, contaminant free allergen safe snacks. The second list is the items you need for that weeks meals on your calendar.
Prep Day. Set aside a prepping day each week and batch prep your meals. Cooked or uncooked. Beef stew can be assembled in containers uncooked – dice raw carrots, potatoes, onions and store in one container, beef in another; assemble and cook on meal day. Other meals can be cooked ahead so they only require re heating during the week when you have less time.
Cook creatively. Take those same allergen free meals and change way you cook. The chicken can be baked in a marinara sauce instead of broiled, veggies can be roasted instead of boiled. Same meal 2 ways and you have two separate dinners!
Cook once eat four times! When you make your meals, make double or triple and store extra meals in ziplock freezer bags, labelled and dated. These freezer meals can be used on leftover days or eat out days if you don’t feel like eating out.
Post the Menu Plans on the fridge so everyone can see it and there will be no more cries through the house of “Moooooom, what’s for dinner??”
All the work is in the set up, but once you have your meal planning basics done you will find it so much easier during the week when it’s time to shop for and make dinners.
And lastly, teach everyone in your family how to help with meal prep, meal shopping, meal planning and meal cooking! Many hands make light work.