Friday, July 1, 2011

Food Allergies on a Budget: Meal Planning

Food allergies are hard. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. But sometimes an overlooked part of it is how expensive they can be. Of course we would spend our last dime on our food allergic child but there is a way to live on a tight budget with a food allergic child.

Plan Ahead

I’m a planner by nature so planning ahead came pretty easy to me but not all of the food allergy moms I know have this luxury. When Tyler was diagnosed at 13 months old with milk, egg, and peanut allergies, I had no idea what to cook for the poor child! (Note: He outgrew the milk and egg allergy at the age of 3.)

After the initial shock wore off, , my planning nature kicked in and I was able to come up with a 4 week menu rotation that was safe for him. We repeated the menu over and over again because I had so few options. On the occasion we deviated from it I would give Tyler something else safe like Tyson chicken nuggets.

By menu planning and repeating the same things over, I was always buying pretty much the same groceries and using them up. This saved us a great deal of money.

Meal Planning Made Easy

Does meal planning come easy to you? If not, it doesn’t need to be difficult. I promise you can do it!

If you are dealing with several food allergies, it’s practically a necessity.

1. Determine how many weeks you want in your meal plan. This may be pre-determined for you like it was for me due to many dietary limitations. Or, you may just pick however many weeks you want your family to rotate.

2. Actually put a list of the meals in front of your, as well as a blank calendar. I suggest using a blank calendar (no dates) and just start entering the meals on it. To make it easier, you can make each night have a theme. For example, Monday might be Mexican night, Tuesday might be Italian night, etc.

3. Enter your meals into a rotating calendar program (optional). You don’t have to do this step, but it will make your life easy if you can. I highly recommend Google Calendar. There are several other types of programs online you can use, too. Then you can just print out each week and your menu is created for you!

Meal planning, and just planning in general goes a long way when it comes to being successful with food allergies. The days of “flying by the seat of your pants” are over.

Do you plan ahead? Do you use meal planning as a strategy for coping with food allergies?

1 comment:

Creations by Dina said...

My son had egg, cow milk, goat milk, and peanut. He did not grow out of egg until age 5 and the dairy he just recently grew out of at age 7. I kept a store of rice milk on hand and a lot of soy cheese. I made a lot of family meals, but most of the time I made a separate meal for my son. Or pulled out his portion of food before I added cheese or cream etc.. Peanut and tree nuts are so much easier to deal with than the egg and dairy. My oldeset has peanut and tree nut allergy. So no nuts for either one of my kids!! I also used to bring my kids own meals to potlucks and picnics, to ensure there would be something that they could eat. Food allergy kids are expensive to feed. I am so glad that my boy has finally out grown the egg and dairy. It has opened up a whole new world of food for him!!