5 Food Allergy Friendly Meal Planning Tips for the Entire Family

Posted 3.15.16 | Nutrition Specialist

“MOM! What’s for dinner, I’m HUNGRY!”  (2 seconds later) “Me TOO!”

Great! Two hungry kids and one has multiple food allergies. As if busy schedules weren’t enough of a squeeze on meal preparation time, add a child with food allergies to contend with and your challenges are multiplied.

Are you dealing with this scenario? If so, family compromise is the key to avoiding making multiple dishes at each meal or alienating the child who has food allergies. You may have to tweak your meal planning and cooking approaches too.  Want some help? Below you will find some suggestions for meal planning, several go-to, family-friendly recipes that are free of major allergens and good for the whole family, as well as additional sources for finding recipes.

Meal Planning Tips:

  • Focus on foods your food-allergic child CAN eat. Make a list of the foods your child with food allergies can eat so you can reference them as you gather meal ideas and recipe choices for menu planning.
  • Play with food preparation. Bake, sauté, grill or roast: alternating the cooking method gives variety that works wonders, especially if you are limited to only a couple of protein choices.
  • Alternate types of meals according to days of the week. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Don’t forget to mix meals up by seasoning with different spices and varying side dishes. (Just make sure the spices you choose are agreeable with all members of the family!).
  • Cook once, eat twice! You can save oodles of time with this strategy. Save prep time by chopping and cooking twice the amount of veggies and meat once and incorporating the fruits of your labor into another meal later in the week.
  • Make meal planning a family activity. This is from MY toolbox. One Sunday afternoon each month, my daughters and I plan meals for the coming month. It’s a fun activity that everyone enjoys. Out come the cookbooks and the internet searches. We choose recipes that are appropriate for our special needs situation, simple to fix, and that elicit interest. We post our menus with pride on the refrigerator and keep copies of the past menus and recipes in our Family menu/recipe book to use again. When the kids are involved with choosing the recipes, they even volunteer to help you prep! My girls take turns helping with meal preparation, with gusto! Overall win-win! It makes the tasks of meal planning easier, teaches them some life skills, and results in increased meal satisfaction.

BONUS! Here are some recipe suggestions to consider:

Breakfast Ideas:

Main Meal Ideas:

Salads, Soups, and Sides:


Here are some additional cooking resources to consider:

Do you have a top 8 allergy-free and family friendly recipe or recipe source to share? We’d love to hear from you.

-Jody Long, MS, RDN

Read Comments (2)

  • 2016-06-07 | Lillian Moore

    I like the idea to focus on foods your allergy child can still eat. This is a great idea since it can make the child upset that they can’t eat something that other children may be eating. Knowing what your child can eat that is also fun will help lift their spirits and feel good about having and allergy.

  • 2016-06-24 | Wade Joel

    Food allergies can be the worst. They can range from plants to fish. I could not imagine being limited on what I could eat because I enjoy all the different kinds of foods out there. I like your tip that if someone in your family has a food allergy that you should focus on what they can eat instead of what they can’t because that can really turn your attitude around.

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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.