Discover 5 New Ways to Meal Plan for Food Allergies That Will Change Your Life
Any mom will tell you that getting healthy dinners on the table is a non-stop challenge. As a food allergy mama, you not only have this challenge, but you also have major restrictions in food choices to deal with. For example:
As much as you love the idea of being free from the daily weight of thinking about food; when you do get a break, all that free time is spent teaching your friends or family HOW to cook safely and going over the ingredients of every dish.
Converting every good recipe you find into something that’s safe for your family is exhausting.
Even though you long to be able to forget about finding and cooking safe food for a little while (even a weekend would be nice), you have nobody to take over cooking for you.
The overwhelm with reading labels at the grocery store is real, and you would love to go back to the days when you could throw almost anything into the cart on a whim.
Do you wonder if this cooking situation is something that you have to accept as a food allergy mama? Are you destined to suffer in silence when it comes to easily and safely feeding your family every. single. day?
If this is something you’ve questioned, why does the idea of using proven systems to decrease the weight of finding & preparing safe food for everyday meals seem like it’s impossible?
Let me guess…..
You don’t mind the effort, but you have no idea how to successfully systematize your cooking to make it easier.
You know exactly what your family likes and you’re afraid that a system will force you to cook food that will be wasted and the kids will be looking for snacks an hour after dinner.
You want to live a normal life despite food allergies, but you feel like anything to do with food is now complicated and difficult. You don’t have the time to get through the complications to create a system that decreases your cooking stress.
Busy moms like us don’t have a second to waste on things that don’t serve our families. We have so many other things we’d rather be doing, but finding and preparing safe food IS NOT AN OPTION, whether we like it or not. Which makes creating a meal plan so valuable for food allergy mamas like us.
In my experience, there are 5 major myths to blame for food allergy meal plans that DON’T work (and I'm guilty of believing all of them!). Learn what to do instead so you can successfully meal plan.
You Don’t Need the Best Meal Planning Service for Special Diets When You Learn These 5 Tips
Tip #1 Don’t be afraid to move out of your food choice comfort zone.
It's easy to fall into the trap of making only what we know our kids will like. I do it ALL the time. I mean, who wants to throw out the dinner you spent all that time and effort making with only grouchy kids that ask for snacks within the hour to show for it?
Trust me when I say that kids will be kids, and they’ll likely be picky no matter what we do. They’ll gobble something up one day but the next they won’t even TRY it.
This is just what kids do.
Have you heard of “The Feeding Relationship”? It basically says that YOU choose what to make and your little chooses WHETHER they will eat it, and how much they will eat. For more info, see this video created by the Dieticians of Canada. If we can get past the idea that our kids have to eat everything we make (and like it), our lives will be WAY less stressful.
Food allergies restrict our diets in so many ways, so keeping an open mind to new things (even if we’re not sure our kids will like it) allows us to focus on the huge variety of foods you CAN eat so you can create NEW family favourites. If you don't try something, how will you know? Not only that, but when you find those new foods your family loves, you'll have more choice and variety in your flavours and recipe options. Who doesn't love a bit more variety?
PRO TIP: While creating your meal plan, try a proven, pre-made food allergy recipe book & meal-plan (like THIS ONE) that will not only decrease your stress WHILE you create your plan, but will also push you to try new foods that are just waiting for your family to love.
Tip #2 Make finding safe food part of a whole system instead of separating it everyday or week.
Many food allergy mamas look at their food requirements for the day or week separately from what they need on a WHOLE. They believe that thinking about “whats for dinner” today or this week is their main concern (and I do this too!) when in reality, it’s only a small part of the plan. By looking at the “what’s for dinner” question as a component of a whole system, we learn to save time and effort for many food allergy struggles, from the daily worry of what to feed our kiddos to preparing for social events and even travel too.
A food allergy meal plan that really works is made up of 5 key stages: plan, group, batch cook, and implement. Each stage is important and combines with the other stages to create an easier, less stressful overall cooking experience.
In short, a good food allergy meal plan is so much more than planning day by day OR week by week. It’s many moving parts put together in the right way so it’s efficient and time-saving.
When all these moving parts are combined and aligned properly, you’ll feel prepared, in control and spend less time wondering “whats for dinner”; less time thinking about safe food; and less time reading food labels. Isn’t that what food allergy mamas want?
Tip #3 Stop thinking that creating a meal plan that works is a TON of effort and involves too much precious time.
True, creating a meal plan isn’t simple when you’re already bogged down with your every day responsibilities.
But that doesn’t mean that the process can’t be a whole lot simpler with a guided map that shows you exactly what to do when (and how).
From showing you how to stock your pantry with the most affordable food allergy replacements to revealing what you can eat with hardly any label reading, a step-by-step map can take something that might be complex and tone it down for busy food allergy mamas.
PRO TIP: Find a group of moms that want to meal plan together. It’s so much fun to do it as a group of friends instead of by yourself. If you’re struggling to find one, check out The Inspired Kitchen Membership where we’ll be doing meal planning challenges together.
Yes, pulling off a food allergy meal plan requires effort in the beginning… but as a food allergy mama, I know you’re willing to put in that effort for your kiddo. You just need to know that what you’re doing is efficient so you’re not spinning your wheels in the long run.
Tip #4: Stop getting product recommendations in the food allergy Facebook groups.
Product recommendations from other food allergy mamas in the same boat as you are awesome, and they can decrease stress, for sure. But you still have to string those products together to create a full meal every day, every week and every month, and that’s a big part of the stress. Not to mention the high cost of all those pre-made foods. A good meal plan will decrease the need to check on the safety of a bunch of new products, decrease food costs, and decrease the label-reading burden.
PRO TIP: Focus more on finding one or two safe products that will complement your full cooking plan instead of relying on food allergy replacements as the centre of most or all of your meals. This way you can focus less on constantly finding new, safe products.
Tip #5 Stop thinking that you have to suffer through it because food allergy cooking is just harder.
I speak from experience when I say that food allergy cooking IS harder. But we don’t have to suffer in silence!
Many food allergy mamas feel guilty about getting help with creating meal plans because they feel like they "should" know how to do it on their own. They feel guilty spending money for help even though a good meal plan will actually SAVE them money, time AND stress in the long run.
A good plan will: decrease unused food (saves grocery money), save you from buying expensive allergy replacements, save you time that you can use for other important household chores, (or just having fun with your family), and save the stress of converting every single recipe you find into something safe for your family. In short, it allows you to spend MUCH LESS time feeling stressed about safe food and more time doing fun things WITH your family.
So even though food allergy cooking IS more difficult; a good meal plan with a whole framework, proper techniques and solid strategies will save food allergy mamas more time, energy and stress, which means it’s all the more valuable! So take control of your cooking and make food enjoyable again, despite food allergies.
Conclusion: Easy & Effortless Family Meals Are Simple With Meal Planning (even with special diets)!
Now that you know the 5 meal planning tips, I’ve created a detailed, free cheat sheet to help you with your food allergy menu planning.
My hope for you is to jump over the food allergy cooking ruts and avoid the stress that food allergy cooking can create for you and instead learn how to create a meal plan system that makes it feel like food allergies don’t exist in your home.
I’ve been a food allergy mama for over 12 years and I’ve been through the label-reading overwhelm, the cooking ruts and the 4 o’clock “what’s for dinner” struggles. You don’t need to follow the same path! Here’s the Recipe Organizer I use to meal plan and shop. It’s a food allergy mom life-saver!
What about you? Which of these tips will you start using? Let me know in the comments!