12 November 2007

"Build your own" dinners simplify meals for folks with allergies

Shauna's DIY dinner hack:

My son and I have several food allergies while my husband and daughter do not, so to avoid making three different dinners every night, we've implemented one or two "Create Your Own" nights.  We use pita with several toppings for create your own pizza, we do tacos, burritos and pasta (with a choice of sauces) - and are in the process of brainstorming more - this way I can fix one dinner and everyone is happy!

Any suggestions for other "create your own" meals? We've been known to pull out all the cereal boxes, plus fruit salad, yogurt, and milk...'breakfast for dinner' is always a huge hit around here.

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About once a week we do leftovers smorgasbord, where all the edible leftovers are put on the island and you get to choose whatever you want to eat. This also helps clean out the fridge a bit!

We do a baked potato bar for my playgroup.

We all have food allergies, and everyone a different set. Since ours include grains we usually set out several grains that include something everyone can eat, several veggies, and beans, meat, or cheese that matches the meal (depends on what it is since each has their own sets of meats/beans/cheese they can eat.) (As you can guess, casseroles never happen.) I put all sauces and seasonings on the side. With this formula we make every meal from breakfast to dinner from tacos and pizza to spaghetti to pancakes/waffles. I try to have something comparable available at each meal so no one feels left out. However, occasionally someone has an aversion to something even though they are not allergic, in that case they can either eat what I made or prepare their own, knowing that what they didn't want is going to show up in a different form.

We do this with pasta - I make a basic pot of pasta that everyone can/will eat (but you could do different pastas if the grains were an issue, or people could skip the pasta) and then veggies separate from meat separate from sauces. We actually started doing this in college, when we lived in a big house with, among others, a vegan and someone on Atkins - so the vegan ate pasta and veggies, and the Atkins dieter ate the veggies and meat and cheese with no pasta. Good for entertaining, too, when people have different tastes.

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