Cooking for Two – Two Separate Meals, That Is!



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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?
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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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6 thoughts on “Cooking for Two – Two Separate Meals, That Is!

  1. One of the challenges of cooking for one or two, even if it is separate meals, is a lot of recipes don’t divide down well without messing up the meal. Sometimes it isn’t as simple is dividing the ingredient list in half, as I found out. I think some of the recipes are created without giving thought to people needing to adjust to servings down, and the default given to duos and singles is to make leftovers rather than to provide recipes that can either be divided down or with the correct number of servings. But one of the best sites I ran into is Dr. Gourmet, which is a doctor who is also a gourmet chef. It was healthy, so I thought I’d try it, and one I of the things I was amazed at was that almost all the recipes do divide without breaking them. Link is here:

  2. I have had IBS for years. If I’m not careful, it can really get out of hand. I take over-the-counter Fiber Therapy, on the advice of my dr. Recently I’ve also started probiotics. I’m doing good right now, but if I get very stressed or anxious, I can have a flair. Having a son with celiac disease mrans glutin free, and l’ve found that diet helps my IBS. Hope your hubs is doing well. Interesting post.

    1. Thanks, Bettyann. I’ve tried to talk David into taking a digestive enzyme or probiotic but he doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why he won’t except that he doesn’t like “taking things”. The low Fodmap diet does help (it’s gluten free, too) but it’s really hard! When he eats clean according to the diet, he feels a lot better. Last night he tried eating chili (low fodmap doesn’t allow beans) and I don’t think it agreed with him. He’s just getting tired of not being able to eat anything.

  3. I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 18. Not going to lie, I have not taken it seriously. I have just suffered through the pain and other symptoms and eaten pretty much what I want when I want. Skip ahead several (many many) years, and it’s getting worse lately. I have added fiber and stepped up my medication, but still suffer. I had not heard of the low FODMAP diet. I might attempt to incorporate some of that into my own world! thanks for these tips!

    1. Debra – the thing about the low fodmap diet is that you start out restricting everything but then you gradually add things back in. You may find that some things don’t bother you and some do. For example, David discovered that brown sugar is a problem. He also can’t eat apples or pears. So you end up with some foods eliminated and some added back in. David tried eating chili last night (beans are bad) but that didn’t agree with him. When he follows the diet closely, he feels good. He isn’t willing to put up with the pain. He wants to feel better so he’s been really diligent about following the diet. He got off the wagon a little over Christmas but not much. The fodmap diet is definitely worth looking at. You might find that there are one or two foods you could eliminate that would make a HUGE difference.

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