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Share your tips for feeding a family with different dietary requirements with Flora(266 Posts)
Cooking a meal for the family can be hard at the best of times, so having family members with different dietary requirements can throw an extra spanner in the works. Whether it’s because of allergies and intolerances, or due to environmental, ethical or health concerns, we know that a lot of households have to think and prepare carefully to make sure their mealtimes cater to everyone around the table.
Because we think mealtimes can be tricky when you have to cater to different dietary requirements for family members, Flora would like to hear about your experiences and how you navigate through this.
Here’s what Flora has to say: “Health and wellbeing has never been so important to consumers, people care more about what goes into the products they are feeding themselves and their families, but they are not prepared to compromise on taste – and they shouldn’t have to. With a great new recipe making FLORA more delicious than ever, our new 100% Plant Goodness range can be enjoyed by the whole family.”
How does your family cater for those who have different dietary requirements when it comes to mealtimes? How can your family make sure everyone’s requirements are met without spending too much extra time, money, or effort on preparation? Has your family adapted well to managing emerging dietary requirements, or have there been any hiccups on the way?
Whatever your tips and tricks are on making these mealtimes a success, post them on the thread below and everyone who does will be entered into a prize draw where 1 MNer will win a £300 voucher of their choice (from a list).
Thanks and good luck!
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Lots of items - especially vegetables - a variety, some of which, if uneaten, can be used in packed lunches or in the next day's meal - so nothing goes to waste. Try to cook things that the majority will eat - and have leftovers in the fridge to improvise for others. Luckily we don't have too much divergence in my family. My DSis though has so many exclusions that sadly she just brings her own food pretty much, whenever we are together.
Thinking about work arounds is key - rather than cooking a meat stew, I cook a fully vegan (and gluten free) dish and roast meat separately for instance. I make vegan pasta and fry pancetta separately to sprinkle in. We also use quorn sometimes for ease - it doesn't hurt us meat eaters to go without meat some nights. But I don't stress about it, I will give a ready meal or veggie option dish sometimes
My DH is a celiac, so we mainly eat a gluten free diet, my DS 1 and 2 have not had a a tTG-IgA test to see if they are likely to be intolerant. My tips are do your on-line research, there is far more you can eat than cannot, and gluten free pastas are common place in the supermarket. Soy flour bread is just fine, I invested in a breadmaker for that one - saves me ££££'s - another tip. Thank you for bringing intolerances to the table.
How does your family cater for those who have different dietary requirements when it comes to mealtimes?
I try to be inclusive, so plan my mealtimes on Friday nights, and shop Saturday morning for a Monday delivery, After keeping a food diary, I found my DS2 has developed a lactose intolerance, so almond milk is replaced by cows milk for him,
How can your family make sure everyone’s requirements are met without spending too much extra time, money, or effort on preparation?
I cook dairy free lasagne, mac n cheese and make my own mini pizza with diary free cheese (it's not as bad as it sounds). It does take a little more time, cost a little more, but there are no more tummy aches or toilet issues.
Has your family adapted well to managing emerging dietary requirements, or have there been any hiccups on the way?
As the intolerance developed (or got worse over time) it has been a gradual process into dairy free -the only hiccups are eating out - it can be very stressful finding places to eat (hurray for Pizza Hut having vegan and dairy free pizza)
We all eat a diet that is free of things DS is allergic to, unless we’re out at a restaurant where there’s no cross contamination. It’s easier just not to have the allergy foods in the house.
Our household has one vegetarian and one who is gluten and dairy free. All meals are vegetarian, gluten and dairy free. Everyone eats the same. Simple as that.
I refuse to cook different meals so it's either what I make or nothing. My kids eat most things now. The older 2 will cook for themselves now and again.
I have one child who won't eat farmed meat or dairy for ethical reasons, one who can't have cow's milk and one who's fussy in all kinds of unpredictable ways about texture, and my husband and I just eat way too much given half a chance. My Go To food is fish, which is something I never really got to grips with cooking in the past. The meat-free eater will eat wild fish, and for the gluttonous foodies in the family there's no argument about what constitutes a portion. There are so many tasty fish recipes in books and mags, and fishmongers will usually recommend methods and flavours that work well with different types of fish. I'm lucky to live near a port so I can get fresh fish most days and I can happily gut and fillet fish myself nowadays, which I never thought I'd hear myself saying. It can be disconcerting when your recipe starts, 'First locate the anus', though...
My DD has a milk allergy and I am coeliac. DH can eat anything.
To make it easier mostly we tend to opt for meals that have the majority of the dish free of allergens - i.e. grilled fish, roasted vegetables, baked potatoes etc. Then I can add or adapt allergens - so for example tonight we had baked potatoes with tuna, spring onions, sweetcorn and chopped peppers. DD had dairy free spread and dairy free cheese, DH and I had regular.
If it’s a meal which is made up of several allergens - e.g. lasagne - we all eat the allergen free version, so I’d make it with gluten free pasta and dairy free cheese.
We also all have an individual kilner jar for treats - mine has gluten free biscuits, chocolate etc. DD has moo free bars, smoothie melts, raisins etc. DH has whatever he likes. That way if we (or rather DD!) help ourselves to a treat we know it’s safe.
I cook a GF pasta sauce, then cook regular and GF pasta, and serve.
I am lucky in that DH, the DDs and I can eat what we like.
However, we do have family members who are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free, so I have a few things in like gluten free pasta, a couple of frozen GF ciabattas, nice vegan/GF biscuits etc, so I can offer food if they visit without having to go to the shops (I live rurally so it's not easy to just pop out).
We have two with coeliac one waiting on a diagnosis and one "muggle" my daughter who's waiting for her diagnosis also has Asd and is funny about food.
We largely have a few go to meals which are either gluten free or easy to make one lot gf one not like spaghetti. Untill she's diagnosed she has to keep gluten in her diet so were super hot on cross contamination. Seperate areas for gf and non gf food and gf stuff is always prepared first.
I also take a bag of gf snacks everywhere. Too often the promised gf food is either vegan (not all vegan food is gf!) or cross contaminated
Another who does batch cooking for those who cant eat the main meal.
Although we are lucky in that while we have many allergies in the wider family, we rarely have to cater for all the various issues on the same day! We do normally try to cater round the allergies so that everyone eats the same.
I find planning meals so much easier since I changed my focus from what each person can't eat, to what we can all eat. It's a very subtle switch but has made planning so much easier.
This is a subject that has been on my mind for a while and so timely that I saw it tonight after searching on the internet for answers to this exact dilemma.
I have two boys and my husband works very long hours. I have had IBS for a number of years and my husband is allergic to nuts and bad heartburn
My boys are young and quite good eaters but timing is difficult as I like them to have dinner around 5ish and we want to eat at 8pm or whenever my husband is back. I find it very hard to cook things that suit everyone as onion garlic and spicy food are big IBS triggers for me. (But then are always added to flavour casseroles etc)
I have found a Jamie Oliver 'yellow' curry that isn't too spicy and suits us all. I also buy cooked chicken and make a 'roast' by adding low salt gravy to the chicken and adding veg and potatoes. (They don't know the chicken hasn't been cooked by me!😅)
Ready prepped frozen veg is good and microwaveable rice.
Sausages and ready made mash is also a winner.
I hope that helps other families. I would like to hear about specific meals if anyone has any?
Finally I find doing a food diary is good as you can sometimes forget when you find a meal that's been a success xx
DS is allergic to dairy. I use a variety of milks as replacement, also a few cheeses, though he is not so keen on those. I have worked out the ratio of dairy-free margarine and coconut oil that gives a good fat content for baking (Flora, I really miss the avocado spread you did for a few months!!) sometimes I will add dairy cheese to our portions and just leave it off DS’s. This works well.
Most people don’t spot the difference between my dairy and non-dairy.
We have one veggie and one lactose-intolerant and both DSs are limited in the vegetables that they like. We have a range of things that everyone likes but sometimes it does just mean things get complicated. I've got a lactose-free cheese sauce down to a fine art now, which helps a lot. If we have curry, I often do a mild dal, which both boys like, and then a spicier meat curry separately. Pasta bake often gets split between two dishes, either with and without meat, or with and without the types of veg DH and I like and the boys don't. Things like wraps are good because then there can be a range of options to put in them and everyone can chose what they like/can eat.
My DH is a meat-eater and tends to have meat with every meal. I am vegetarian. Our DDs like either diet, and the rule is, I cook the veg and DH cooks any meat required. I think this plays to our strengths and means that meal preparation is a shared event.
I have my own dietary limitations and 2 kids with their own, different, needs. I combine home made and convenience foods and batch cook as much as possible, to make the cooking load lighter.
We have two coeliacs in our household. The key I think is to keep things as inclusive as possible. We all eat as much gf food as possible and just get on with it. We do struggle, however, with the bread alternatives but I've found in recent years we eat a lot less bread that we used to and that gf bread tastes infinitely better warmed up and with spread / butter / olive oil !
It's also made me pull my socks up with cooking and cook it all from scratch. I've really enjoyed it and gone to food festivals and feel as though I've learned so much. I understand the recipes so much better and over time can intuitively find substitutes
Vegan here with veggie 7yo and husband who eats anything but is allergic to coriander leaf.
We plan our meals and shop weekly having days where we combine food and either everyone eats the same vegan base and adds stuff (meat for husband, cheese/eggs for daughter) or cook similar things with slight tweaks ie same vegetable side dishes but different proteins.
Good to have "dinner hygiene" to have family time as my DH and I work full time but also to encourage DD to try foods.
I try to meal plan for the week and have at least one item in a meal that everyone will share, whether that’s a vegetable or a carb. I’m lucky my family aren’t particularly picky but I have some friends with coeliac disease so if they are eating with us we will all eat a gluten free meal or if we have veggie friends over I’ll cook something vegetarian for us all. I enjoy cooking so I don’t find it a struggle.
Imaginary food intolerances
I tend to pander to whilst muttering loudly in my head, if you don’t like to eat something just say so...please don’t invent an allergy!!!
Sorry for the rant it’s my pet peeve
We stopped eating meat 3 years ago, for health reasons , we are a family of 4 Pescetarians. We use meat substitutes for spag bol, and when we found a recipe for fish curry, kedgeree, and fish pie, we really don't miss meat at all. Our bowel health is better, and eating out is never a challenge as there are always fish and vegetarian options.