I used to think December was busy before we had food allergies in our house. And then food allergies came along and all I can say is WOW. With all the checking, explaining, RSVPing, extra cooking, extra baking, it can get to be a bit much!
As I've settled into the role of food allergy mom, I'm finding there are things that can really help decrease the load that Christmas and the holidays bring.
Seven Ways To Decrease Food Allergy and Special Diet Cooking Stress
1. Meal plan. Start with a good, solid weekly meal plan for December. Know what you’re going to serve each day of the week, and have a grocery list written out. Then, as events get added, you can pencil in time to cook for those events and add items to the grocery list. Another tip: make extra of what your child likes to freeze as individual leftovers. Then when you’re going to an event, take those individual meals out and bring them along.
2. Pre-bake. Take a November weekend or a couple of evenings to bake 2-3 recipes. If you can get someone to bake with you (at your house with your ingredients) even better because you can knock out 2 recipes each and end up with 4 different sweets. Make sure they’re ones that freeze well. These will be your fall-back sweets for those parties where you don’t have time to bake fresh.
3. Find quick & easy recipes that you can buy ingredients for and have on hand. Think of at least one appetizer, one main and one dessert. That way if you need to bring something and you run short on time, you have everything in your pantry to make something quick.
4. Plan for intense cooking times early. For example; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Year's Eve/Day. Who will be cooking for these events in your family? Who do you need to inform about food allergies? Decide if you’re able to trust those people with cooking, or if you’re not feeling comfortable with their food allergy cooking knowledge, think about what to do instead. Will you supply safe food? Will you host? If so, go through and map out what you’ll serve NOW. Pre-make what you can.
5. Give yourself a break. Cut corners where you can. I don’t mean cut corners when it comes to food allergy cooking or safety. I mean, use simple recipes. Don’t go all crazy with the details, decor, etc. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
6. Re-use menus and cooking ideas in future. There’s a reason Grandma always served the same thing every Christmas. She knew what was delicious (and fairly easy to cook) and she re-created that every year. We can learn from her and do this too. Reusing what works instils tradition and makes our lives as Food Allergy Moms easier. What could be better?
7. Let things go. If there are things that don’t directly relate to the safety of your child. Let them go. This includes family drama and events you just can’t fit in safely. Do your best, but don’t overdo it. The holidays are a great time, but can also be a HUGE strain on us food allergy moms. Learn to let things go when you need to, and don’t feel guilty about it!
What are your favourite ways to decrease food allergy cooking stress over the holidays? Share in the comments!