If you’ve been following me lately, you’ll know that I’ve been writing a lot about meal planning and cooking for food allergies. I know that as food allergy mamas we are in the kitchen All. THE. TIME. and this can get super exhausting and draining. It can get to the point where food just isn’t any fun anymore. Which is why I believe that it’s so important for us to find ways to make our job easier.
There are several ways to get ourselves to feel inspired and excited again, but I believe that the best way is with a good mix of meal planning and other techniques like recipe grouping, bulk cooking and cooking from the pantry. Meal planning is the base and the other techniques complement the basic plan.
Which means meal planning is a big part of helping us mamas feel less stressed about food and cooking in general. But as I write this, I realize there are some people who just aren’t sure about meal planning. Maybe they feel like it puts them in a box and doesn’t allow flexibility; or, they just like to make what sounds interesting that day.
These are valid concerns!
I believe that with a good meal plan there’s room for that kind of cooking too (that’s where I like to sneak in cooking from the pantry or inspirational cooking). But I wanted to talk specifically about the meal planning part for today. Instead of me telling you how much meal planning has helped me, I wanted to interview another food allergy mom so she could tell her story.
Food Allergy Mom Interview
Without further adieu, I want to introduce you to Christel L., a fellow food allergy mom I met through my Friendly Pantry Facebook Page. Here’s what she had to say:
Corinna: Hi Christel! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! Let’s start with your story. How many kids do you have, and what allergies do you manage?
Christel: I have 3 kids. We manage a peanut and hazelnut allergy and a lactose intolerance.
Corinna: What works for you when it comes to getting your family fed?
Christel: We meal plan. The whole week, every week. Yep we get into ruts. But then hubby and I hit a cookbook or two for inspiration.
We cook big meals Saturday and Sunday. Leftovers from those Monday and Tuesday. Cook a meal Wednesday with an eye for leftovers for lunch Thursday. Friday alternates between tacos/pizza/chicken legs with veggie sticks.
We also periodically batch cook to stock the freezer for those nights when things just don't go as planned.
Corinna: Can you tell me a bit about what results you get when you meal plan?
Christel: Not sure what you by results.
Meal planning allows me to have a less stressful week of feeding the family at the end of the day. Monday and Tuesday are leftover nights so re-heating or minor cooking (eg, rice) is all that is needed.
Meal planning also means that we have the ingredients for the week in the house which can also allow for some improvisation if needed (eg, we always have pasta & sauce Wed. night so we always have these ingredients in the house. Kiddos and I decided that we were tired of this so we switched it up to pasta with shrimp and peas as we had frozen peas and shrimp in the freezer).
Corinna: What does meal planning allow you to do more of?
Christel: Stress over meals a lot less.
We'd be eating a lot more cereal or toast and eggs if we didn't plan. I haven't the mental band-width to wing a dinner for 5 each night.
And we can have more fun (playing after school or on the weekend) knowing that we don't have to go to the store every day.
We can also change cooking v. leftovers based on our weekly schedules and special events.
My slow cooker is my go-to on Sunday. That way the family can go out together and come home to a warm delicious meal.
Corinna: How does it make you feel to know you have a plan in place?
Christel: I feel more relaxed knowing that we've got a set menu, all of our ingredients and recipes around and food that's healthy and kids will eat.
Corinna: Can you tell me what your biggest challenge with meal planning is?
Christel: Our biggest challenges are food ruts-the pasta example above. We've taken to having tacos as our standby for emergency meals (I've got beef and pork taco fillings in the freezer and we always have the other toppings around) but that's also getting stale so I will need to find a different quick meal to come up with:)
Special thanks to Christel L. for doing this interview!
I know that Christel’s not alone when it comes to food ruts and motivation being the biggest challenge of meal planning. I’ve been in a meal planning rut myself!! Which is why I wrote a blog with 7 specific and easy ways to get motivated to meal plan and OUT of the dinnertime rut for good. You can find it here.
Do you meal plan? If so, let me know how meal planning has helped you. If you want to start, let me know why in the comments below.