When we first got married, I did the whole meal planning thing. I would make grocery lists and clip coupons and budget for our food, With each additional child, the demands grew and my time, well, it didn't. Eventually, I embraced the winging-it method of meal prep. That is, until we faced the first life-threatening allergic reaction. (If you think this won't apply to you, because your family doesn't have food allergies, I humbly ask you to read on - chances are, someone close to you DOES and would greatly benefit from your understanding! Plus, I'm sharing some tips on meal prep at the end that anyone can use!)
We have an array of sensitivities and allergies in our family: gluten, lactose, onions, and excessive tomatoes. The effects range from skin reactions such as rashes and eczema, to digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. We eliminated preservatives, MSG, artificial flavors, and food dyes from our diets after our oldest was born. But, most significantly, we have three life-threatening allergies in our family: dairy, oats, and all forms of poultry. One of our sons has the well known igE allergy to dairy. He has an epi-pen, and while we have not eliminated dairy from the house, we practice extreme caution in everything down to where he sits at the table. Another son has a rare disease called FPIES. This site has a wealth of information about FPIES - what it is, how it works, and the symptoms. I'm not going to post all that here. Instead I want to give you an inside look of what living with FPIES and other life-threatening allergies looks like.
what living with allergies looks like.
Most of all, I think that what parents of children with life-threatening allergies would love for you to know is: It is terrifying to know that your child could get a hold of something that could send him into shock and threaten his life. It is heartbreaking to know that your children are going without foods they'd like to have because it just isn't safe. It is expensive to make everything allergy-safe. It is exhausting to be on high alert anywhere but at home. It is isolating trying to keep your kid safe.
how i meal prep for 8, 1 week at a time.
Every weekend, I set aside time to meal prep for the coming week. Our menu rotates on a 2 week schedule. I understand that may not work for some, but for our family, it cuts down on stress, provides nutritious food everyone enjoys, and helps with budgeting. I no longer base meals on what's going on sale - instead, I work with things that we purchase in bulk from BJs and/or Costco. This also means our shopping list is consistent, simplifying shopping trips.
Here's a picture of our weekly menus, which I keep in our family planner:
These are the items I typically prep on the weekend:
The whole process takes me 2-3 hours, but has an enormous impact on our week. I'm working towards getting organized enough to double up my main meals so I can freeze a week's worth, too!
Having our main meals ready to go in the fridge, we avoid last minute panic! Not everything is made ahead, but if a day gets crazy, we can easily switch to a simpler meal from that week's menu. Prepping fruits and veggies allows us to have simple and healthy snacks, breakfasts, and even sides for dinners.
ways you can meal plan & prep
There are numerous articles on meal prep - some written with much more finesse and expertise, I am sure! But I hope you have found something helpful here. If nothing else, I pray my words about food allergies have either provided the solidarity you need to continue the difficult journey of living with food allergies - or that they have given you a fresh compassion for those who are.
How do you meal plan and prep? Would you like a follow up post with recipes for my weekly meal plan? Are you, or a loved one, living with life-threatening food allergies? What do you wish people knew?
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 6! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe of little people to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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