As dietary preferences and restrictions continually evolve, more and more people are finding themselves in households of people with different diets. This can make meal-prepping for multiple people much more of a chore than it should be. Whether your loved ones have allergies, gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance; or be on a weight loss, paleo, vegan, or other form of diet; take these tips into consideration to keep your family members adequately satiated (and yourself sane) while accommodating for a multitude of diets.
1. Find Common Ground to Select Staples
While many diets center on foods a person can’t have, identify the foods each person likes that you can have. Find the foods that everyone likes most and identify the most common ingredients and styles. Where can you find overlap? What kind of interesting dishes can be made from those ingredients? From that common ground, create a list of 4 – 5 core dishes (or “staples”) you can all have regularly.
2. Mix and Match
Of course, not every recipe is going to satisfy every member of your family, and you can’t neglect variety as the spice of life that it is. You can still create numerous dishes that everyone in your household can be happy with by finding overlap in the majority of ingredients, while subbing out the ingredients that are deal-breakers. Instead of serving chicken sandwiches or hamburgers with buns for everyone, make it a lettuce wrap for your gluten-free family members. Instead of making soup or chili with meat and cheese, have the meat and cheese served on the side so your vegan family members can enjoy it as well as your meat and cheese eating ones.
3. The Freezer is Your Friend
If you’re cooking for multiple people on a recurring basis, then you may already know this one. But even if you’re just cooking for two people with different diets, you can really benefit from using your freezer. Freezing foods that are friendly for people with dietary restrictions can take the unpleasantness out of not having food that fits the diet at times when other food is being consumed by a group.
4. Snag a Few Pre-Made Meals When You Can
While this may sound counterintuitive to the idea of meal-prepping, it’s important to realize that finding meals that can crossover or accommodate for everyone’s dietary preferences/restrictions isn’t always a possibility. Having a few convenience items on hand in your pantry or cabinet can help keep meal planning for multiple diets a reality for the big picture, even if it doesn’t work each and every day of the week.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you consider it your sole responsibility to meal plan for every member of your family, your planning is likely doomed to fail. Take on a shared responsibility for who is preparing meals by either taking turns or working on them together. This ensures that every member of the family has the opportunity to contribute to the plan as a whole, while taking the ultimate responsibility for their own dietary needs.