I’ve never been one to cook different foods for different members of my family. Until now. David was diagnosed with IBS this winter and he’s been following a low FODMAP diet. It’s a tough diet to follow because it eliminates a LOT of foods. So for the first time ever, I’ve found myself cooking one meal for him and a different meal for me.
From reading your comments and talking to friends, I know there are many people who cook separate meals for different family members – sometimes because of diet restrictions and sometimes because of picky eaters. If you’re one of those people, I’ve come up with a few strategies that might help.
1. Find recipes that will work for everyone. I do have some recipes that work for both of us. Those are my favorites and I use them as much as possible. I’m working on finding more.
2. Serve a variety of dishes so everyone can find something they like. I’ve always tried to cook three different dishes for each meal. For example,
Meat Loaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Potato Soup, Broccoli, Cinnamon Bread
Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Potato Casserole, Salad
If someone doesn’t like (or can’t eat) one dish, they can fill up on the rest.
3. Offer meals that you build. I’m talking about things like tacos or pizza or baked potatoes. These meals have a base but then you can modify them how you want.
4. Use one recipe but prepare it several ways. For example, the other day I made twice baked potatoes. I made them the “normal” way with cheese and filled half the potatoes. Then I took the remaining potato mixture and added spinach. I filled the rest of the potatoes. I ended up with two versions of the same recipe – cheese for me and spinach and cheese for David.
You can also do this with spaghetti. Make the spaghetti sauce and meat. Then prepare gluten free pasta and regular pasta. You can choose which kind of pasta you prefer.
5. Modify recipes in such a way that they work for the special diet but also for those who don’t require a special diet. I did that with meatloaf recently. I made a few changes so it worked for David’s diet but it tasted good to me, too. Unfortunately he can’t have the barbecue sauce topping which I think is the best part of the meatloaf. I didn’t want to miss out so I solved the problem by making the meatloaf without the sauce. David always dips his meatloaf in mashed potatoes so he didn’t care. I dipped my meatloaf in catsup. It wasn’t as good as being cooked with the barbecue topping but it worked.
6. Serve things on the side – like with the meat loaf in #5. The topping was the main thing David couldn’t have (after my modifications) so I served the topping on the side so it worked for both of us.
7. Having something else on hand. My most used strategy has been to make dinner for David and then fix something easy for me. I’ve been eating sandwiches, frozen pizza, chicken noodle soup, etc. This week I’m making a pot of chili and I’m going to be eating that all week while I cook meals for him.
8. Cook ahead and freeze. I don’t want to make a whole batch of something for me in case I don’t eat all of it. The solution is to make several things and freeze them in individual serving sizes. Then if I’m making something for David that I don’t want to eat, I can pull out one of the freezer meals and eat that.
9. Mix it up. Sometimes I eat parts of what I made for David and then add something else – like a sandwich.
In case you’re wondering why I don’t just eat the stuff I’m making for David, it’s because I’m a picky eater. I don’t like most of the things I make for him.
What are your solutions when two meals are required (or requested) for dinnertime?