I posted something on Instagram yesterday about meal planning, and someone suggested I share my plan and grocery list so they didn't have to do any work on theirs! While said jokingly, it made me think that maybe I could share some of that - just in a blog post! Planning meals, prepping, and shopping for a family full of food allergies can be quite daunting. Honestly, it overwhelms me every time I go to do it, but slowly, with practice, it's getting easier. I still tend to put it off as long as I can, but things go so much more smoothly when it's done!
Breakfast and lunches are usually one of a few options for everyone. Breakfasts are pretty routine: Graham can eat eggs now (!!!) so that's helpful, but he usually likes sourdough toast and some fruit. Jude usually has a vegan, HIT-friendly pancake (recipe coming soon), and frozen blueberries. Yesterday I also made muffins to freeze so I can pull those out for breakfasts or snacks. (I used this recipe, but with apple instead of carrot and blueberries instead of coconut) Lunches vary based on what we have going on, but a lot of it is snack-type foods, fruit/veggies/crackers, etc. We keep a lot of fresh and frozen fruit on hand for the boys, and some allergy-friendly crackers and freeze-dried fruit for snacks throughout the day.
For dinner, I usually start by making note of what we already have to use in the house, and work from there. I use Pinterest for recipes, especially if I'm trying something new. I also have a few tried-and-true cookbooks that I use (Shauna Niequest is my favorite!), and have started using old-school recipe cards to keep our basic go-tos easily accessible. Since discovering Jude's histamine intolerance, we've really been trying to keep our meals as simple and easy-for-everyone as possible, yet also quasi-affordable. (that's laughable. As much as I try to limit meat, make things like soup that can go a long way, etc. our grocery bill is still insane!)
To get everything we need requires some maneuvering of its own, as no one store carries all of it. I went to Kroger over the weekend for some staples, to Target for freeze-dried snacks, to the organic butcher today for most of the meat we needed, placed an order on Relay Foods for some of the other meat we needed and snacks that we can only get there or at Whole Foods, and sent Jim to Fresh Market; this weekend we're making a stop at Trader Joe's...but that's just for inexpensive wine. Priorities.
I try to make most of our meals accessible to all four of us, but sometimes parts are not. For example, I planned some meals with chicken breast, but was unable to find any that was safe for the boys. So I bought extra chicken thighs (that were safe) to substitute, and had Jim get the cheaper antibiotic-free chicken on sale for he and I to eat; the boys will just eat another protein those nights, like pre-prepared beans, or if a treat for Graham, an organic hot dog. Also, if I make something separate for the boys, I make enough to freeze portions for Jude, so I have quick lunches or dinner options for him.
This weekend threw a fun twist in the planning because we're traveling for Easter, so I have to make sure to have all of Jude's food either ready to bring with us and cook there, or pre-cook and freeze in individual portions to transport there.
Here is our meal plan for the next two weeks!
Monday: Potato and onion frittata, green salad (leftover frozen beef, couscous and veggies for Jude)
Tuesday: Green Well Salad (from Bread and Wine), with added chicken breast (hot dog instead of chicken for Graham, fruit and veggies for Jude)
Wednesday: Whole chicken, gluten-free stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes and carrots, fresh bread (we can all eat the chicken and veggies, yay!! Will freeze leftover chicken for Jude, and use some in tomorrow's dinner.)
Thursday: Pad Thai (chicken with zucchini and squash for the boys, freezing extra portions)
Friday/Saturday/Sunday: traveling, so Chik-Fil-A fries and fruit for Graham's dinner on the road; will have food lovingly provided for us at family's house; bringing snacks with us and making a venison roast and freezing into meal portions ahead of time for Jude.
Monday: Magical White Bean Soup and fresh bread (from Bread and Wine, we can all eat!!)
Tuesday: Gluten-free Lo-Mein (requested by Jim; will do plain spaghetti noodles and veggies for boys)
Wednesday: Roast Pork, potatoes and broccoli (safe for all!)
Thursday: Carnitas (from leftover pork...kind of a build-your-own, so Jim and I may make nachos with corn chips; Graham may have with black beans; Jude will have plain pork that was frozen the night before since he can't do the spices)
Friday: Out! (we have a few local restaurants where Graham can safely order; we bring Jude's food always.)
Saturday: Pizza! (Jude will eat some of the toppings; I found a great oat flour crust recipe the rest of us can do; Graham's will be without cheese)
Sunday: Thai Beef Salad (safe for all of us pre-dressing!)
There you have it. 2 weeks' worth of meals in the Meador household. It's not necessarily 'simple' in the terms of planning, but about as simple as we can get around here these days!