If it seems like the specific grocery requests in your household are ever-expanding, that’s because they are. In England, the number of kids who went to the hospital for diet-induced anaphylaxis—severe allergic reaction—rose by an astonishing 72% between 2013 and 2019. The exact number of Brits with a food allergy isn’t known, but population studies indicate 1-2% have a diagnosed allergy, and up to 30% believe they have an allergy or sensitivity to certain foods. There are a number of reasons that there’s been a huge uptick in food intolerances over the past few years, but the end result is the same—your shopping lists are just too complicated.
Shopping shouldn’t be a full-time job
For a family of four, it’s not uncommon to have a peanut allergy, gluten or lactose intolerance, a vegan, and a Keto devotee. As if this doesn’t cause enough stress for the family shopper, the pandemic and ensuing lockdown can make it a little scary to get out and spend the day trekking to four different groceries to accommodate all your dietary preferences.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these tips for managing your family’s multiple food preferences, and you’ll spend less time shopping and making lists. As a bonus, you’ll become a better chef, your family will eat healthier, and you’ll spend a lot less time in the kitchen—wait, that’s three bonuses!
Tips for managing your family’s multiple food preferences
1. Make notes on dietary preferences, with individual “can’t eat” and “doesn’t eat” sections. You can find note-taking apps that will do the job, and you can print the info and keep it handy in the kitchen so that everyone has access.
Here’s an example. Tortillas from TESCO are carb and gluten-free, so they work for everyone as the base for sandwich wraps, tacos, and burritos.
2. Educate yourself on the basics like starches, vegetables, and proteins.
Did you know that cauliflower is actually starch and black beans and avocados are great sources of proteins?HEALTHLINE
3. Keep a supply of staples in your pantry. These ingredients are the base for so many recipes that can be customized to for all your dietary needs so that you can prepare a simple dish and add ingredients for each person. Here’s a fun fact—stores like TESCO also have recipes online, so you can easily add variety.
- Cooking oils—olive, saffron, and vegetable
- Whole grains—brown rice, quinoa, rolled oats, tortillas
- Canned or dried beans
- Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Obviously fresh is best, but life can get in the way of a trip to the grocery.
- Herbs and spices add customized flavor. If you’re making a veg and quinoa bowl, you can add Chinese 5 Spice and your kids can add Harissa spices for a completely different flavor.
4. Prepare meals that are easy to customize, so that you’re not cooking several meals at once. Stir-fries and bowls are great options because you use the same base ingredients of veg and starch. You can add cheese, meat, or whatever to each serving. Remember that cauliflower is starch just like potatoes and rice. Black beans—also kidney, split pea and white beans—are proteins, just like tofu, chicken, and fish.
5. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cookware for family members with allergies. Knives and cutting boards are the worst culprits for cross-contamination, but utensils and dishware can also be problems if they’re not thoroughly washed between use.
6. Plan a meal prep day when you make a couple of recipes ahead, then you can tweak them for each family member at dinnertime. Tacos and salads are great examples. Your base greens or tortillas can be topped with whatever protein, veg, or cheese you’ve already prepped. Pasta is another great meal prep option once you determine the one or two noodle options that work for everybody.
There is an app for that!
Great, you’re thinking, now I have to trudge over to my favorite retailer with my giant notebook, or run into people in the aisles as I scrutinize the notes on my phone. Nope, Clickerance has developed a browser plugin that lets you input your family’s multiple food preferences and allergies, then does the magic so that you know which products at the stores meet your family’s needs. This makes online shopping easier since it helps you discover a would of food previously shut off to you.
This neat trick not only makes online shopping easier but also saves you money since you aren’t buying multiples oils, for example, when one or two will suit everybody. Clickerance also advises you on substitutes. Click here to learn more about Clickerance.