Several times in the last 4.5 years on our food allergy journey I have made mistakes or oversights that have led to my kids having reactions … and trust me – it feels awful 😦
So I wanted to share with you some of our tips for how we cope in our home in the hope that it might help you too.
- Firstly, we plan our meals. I sit down and write out a menu for a month. It saves me the worry of not knowing what I’m going to cook that night, helps us to have a balanced diet, it saves money and it cuts down on waste as I check my fridge and pantry before I write my list. If you’re having trouble thinking of that many allergy friendly meals, here’s what mine looks like this month – the recipes for Salmon Patties, Lamb Curry, Turkey and Black Bean Chilli, Spag Bol, Roast Lamb, Honey Soy Chicken, Pizza (yoghurt dough), Beef Stronganoff, Mexican Steak, Silverside, Shepherd’s Pie, Satay Beef Curry, Salsa Chicken, Macaroni Cheese, Burritos, Chicken and Lentil Curry, Taco Meat Balls, Salmon Salad Smash, Apricot Chicken, Lamb Pie and Thai Red Chicken Curry are all on the blog.
- Have lots of safe snacks on stand by. Individually wrapped and frozen slices, muffins and breads are really handy. I always have some fruit or rice crackers in my nappy bag so I can feed Ellie if we get caught out somewhere for longer than I had expected.
- We all eat the same thing at meal time as much as possible to avoid cross contamination (and it’s easier for me!)
- We all use Nuttelex instead of butter or margarine so that there aren’t any remnants in spread jars.
- Different face-washers each day for Ellie and the boys so that we’re not wiping allergens on her if the boys have been eating them.
- Will’s allergy to most nuts is potentially life threatening so, as a blanket rule they are not allowed in the house, and Harry isn’t allowed to eat them when he’s out because he’s in such close contact with Will (we may need to rethink how we deal with this one as they get older).
- Always check labels on packaged foods – ingredients change, even between versions of the same brand (eg plain or grain packet bread mix). I recently made the mistake of buying a home brand version of a cereal that is normally fine for Will only to have him break out in hives after eating only a tbsp. Turns out the home brand version had vitamin A extracted from peanuts in it!
- I don’t love doing dishes so I try not to use 2 lots of utensils when cooking, so if we aren’t eating exactly the same thing, I tend to do Ellie’s first. Eg, drain the GF pasta first then use the same drainer for the regular pasta afterwards, or cut Ellie’s bread on the bread board and then when hers is on the plate, do the regular bread next.
- Baking paper in the sandwich press is easily switched so that there’s no contamination from crumbs or cheese etc.
- Make sure faces and hands are washed after meals and snacks and before kids play with toys.
- Lastly we talk to our kids regularly about allergies. The boys are 2 and 4 and they know to always ask about nuts and eggs before they eat food from anyone else. Fortunately (in some ways) Ellie’s reaction to some things are quite instant so they have seen the welts pop up when they kiss her after drinking milk etc. And they know not to feed her anything unless they’ve checked with me – and even tell their little friends when we are out and about.
Do you have any other allergy survival tips to share?
2 thoughts on “Menu Planning and Keeping my sanity!”
The only other things I can think of right now are always taking an allergy friendly party pack with you to parties (including some cake/muffin for cake time), providing the school teacher with treats or freezable cakes that can be stored for when there is a birthday celebration etc in class, and regarding in the home, keeping one side of the toaster (or a whole different toaster!) gluten free – it’s a big contamination area. Oh and, as we don’t all use Nuttelex in our house, we have separate spreads (jam, vegemite) for Jemima with her name written all over them to avoid confusion and we buy squeezie options when possible as they require no dunking.
You’ve done an amazing job, to keep your sanity. Well done for writing this blog and having it available to people to make use of when they are faced with a diagnosis of serious food allergies in their children. 🙂