- Family and Parenting
Accommodating Different Diets in the Same Household
Don't confuse diet restrictions with picky eaters.
I, personally have not been inclined to catering to "picky" eaters in my house. If I order a pizza with everything on it or make soup and you don't like one or two vegetables in it, just pick off what you don't like. Conversely, if you are allergic to mushrooms, I won't even order a pizza that is made in the same pan as a mushroom pizza may have been!
Food restrictions should always be taken seriously, whether it is due to allergies, sensitivities religious or other convictions.
Respect is paramount.
As in all things in life, it is important to respect others choices. If someone in your household has chosen to eat a certain way, respect their preferences. If you are having a vegetarian guest, don't assume that you can just take the chicken out of the soup. Ask them how they feel about it being prepared that way.
When members of the same household have different dietary requirements or choices, it can get complicated, ezpecialy if there is one person in charge of the kitchen! There are several ways to make this easier that will only involve a few changes at the start.
Be mindful of one another.
There are so many reasons why people may require different diets but that does not mean that a famiily cannot strive to be together and enjoy meals (or mealtime) as a family. We no longer keep certain products in the house because it is easier to have the ones that are ok for everyone. Be sure to read the labels before purchasing. I used to keep dry chicken powder to use as a seasoning. Now I only purchase vegetable soups. I keep a substitution chart in my kitchen so that if a recipe calls for eggs and I am making it for my vegan daughter, I can look up a viable substitute. Beware of anything prepared in a kitchen that may contain products that someone is allergic to, also.
Be aware of ingredients.
Get in the habit of reading ingredients. In my opinion, it is easiest to cook using fresh ingredients. It really doesn't take much longer to bake a cake from "scratch" than it does to use a mix and you have so much more control over the ingredients. Start reading the ingredient section of the foods in your pantry and fridge. You may be very surprised at what they contain!
Keeping food sorted
Especially in the case of food allergies, you will probably need to keep your food stored separately. It is easiest if you color code. I use throwaway food containers. They last way a long time, are inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and most important, colors. Having individual colors for different members of the family, insures that someone will not accidentally eat the wrong thing. I have also found that it aids in "ownership" and responsibility.
This is an organized way to keep foods separate!
The Elimination Recipe
This is my own name for preparing a meal that should work for everyone. I decide on the meal I want to cook. Let's say, Beef Stew. I then write down the ingredients, including seasoning. Next step is to eliminate which products cannot be tolerated by certain members of the house. I see what's left when I am done. Will these ingredients still make a decent stew? If the answer is yes, then I just make the altered version and everyone enjoys the same food. If the answer is no, I either need to make revisions or separate dishes.
Randi's Elimination Stew
The ingredients for my recipe began like this:
- 1/2 pound cubed beef
- 1 large onion
- 3 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 can green beans
- 1 can mushrooms
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tbsp powdered chicken soup mix.
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
This meal was meant to serve 6 people. Of these 6, one is a baby, one is vegan and one is allergic to mushrooms.
I decided to make only one pot of food, one size fits all. First. out go the mushrooms, next, the cayenne pepper. Last, anything that doesn't suit a vegan diet, meat and chicken soup mix. That left me with:
Potatoes, carrots, celery, green beans, oil, salt and pepper. Not a very exciting stew! Not too flavorful and not very nutritious. I decided to add beans for both the protein and heartiness of the stew. I substituted the chicken soup mix for a vegetable soup mix. I added a few more vegetables like butternut squash and zucchini. We ended up with a hearty, tasty stew that everyone at the table could eat. We accompanied it with couscous and a fresh spinich salad.
We do not do this for every meal, sometimes there are two separate stews on the stove, but we do try to make it work for everyone.
This article is a sister article to my hub:
This is all part of making it work!