How to Plan for Multiple Diets at Mealtime
Is anyone else dealing with a multiple "diet" household and struggling to find meals that please everyone? How about multiple food allergies? I'm convinced pleasing everyone is impossible anyway then you throw in the "I don't eat that" or "I can't have that" and it's a whole different ballgame. Maybe it's food allergies, auto-immune disease, against animal cruelty, or maybe for other reasons. Ok, so it's not totally impossible but it takes a little more time and effort as well as a little bit of I don't give AF (if everyone is 100% excited about the meal) to make it happen with less stress. The problem is that I give too many Fs when it comes to what we eat so I need to work on that last part. Also, I am in NO way recommending anyone adhere to any particular diet, just offering ideas if needed.
In my house we are working with a generally picky 9 y/o who hates change, a vegetarian that just moved back in, and I'm gluten-free and mostly dairy-free due to my thyroid health. My husband just doesn't like cilantro or snap peas, weirdo! I'm also really working toward more real food when possible. Like, gasp, real butter! Who's with me on that? I'm trying to keep it simple with decent ingredients and keeping in mind everyone's preferences. I have a few staple meals that we make when we are all going to be around for dinner. Here are some ideas on how we make it work:
Mexican Dinner Night
I feel like you can get around most diets with some good ol Mexican food. You have a meat option, a vegetarian option with beans, gluten-free options are easy and the set up doesn't take too long. I put it all out and everyone makes their own. Easy peasy! Here is what I make:
Ground turkey, ground beef or chicken seasoned with garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. You can find homemade taco seasonings online as well.
- A can of black beans mixed with a can of refried black beans.
- Tortillas - whole wheat and gluten-free corn
- Brown rice - I often use this to make a taco bowl/salad and skip the corn tortilla
- Fire roasted peppers and onions (freezer section of TJs)
- guacamole or diced avocado
- other toppings as desired
Breakfast For Dinner Night
This is another no brainer when it comes to pleasing the masses at my house. Our vegetarian will eat eggs so that makes it a little easier. Here are our go-to breakfast for dinner meals:
- Breakfast burritos - egg and cheese, egg and sausage (and jelly for the little one), egg and sausage and cheese, the options are endless and work for everyone. Throw in some sautéed veggies, a fruit on the side and it's a complete meal.
- Breakfast bowl - this one is SO good, find the recipe here
- Scrambled eggs and pancakes or waffles. I like to use the Lean Green Bean's whole wheat waffle recipe you can find in this post and I've been using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix lately. They have a gluten-free mix that I need to try but I tend to make banana pancakes for myself, recipe here.
This has now become a weekly meal when all 4 of us are home because it works well. Here's our pizza line-up:
- We like using TJs frozen cauliflower crust for our gluten-free option but have also used some gluten-free focaccia bread.
- This flatbread makes the best pizza and the boys love it! It comes with 2 so I can make them each their own.
- Your favorite sauce. I top the sauce with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning as well. On the cauliflower crust, I have used EVOO with garlic or a cashew cream sauce.
- Shred up some cheese. I usually use mozzarella and parmesan for the boys and add some goat cheese for ours because goat cheese makes all things better!
- We have been adding roasted veggies to our pizza and it's so good. Currently we are using butternut squash, onion, broccoli and peppers.
- Preferred meat toppings or skip the meat.
- Any other toppings like olives, spinach, arugula, pineapple, etc.
- I have been using TJs balsamic glaze drizzled on our pizza for an extra little zing. I've seen other balsamic glazes at the grocery store by the vinegar as well.
Chopped Salad Night
I love a good chopped salad but it doesn't please the masses like the other meals I listed, particularly my little guy but we make it work. Think of it like a pizza where your salad greens are the crust and you can top it however you want. Here are some ideas:
- We usually have chicken for our meat option but choose your favorite protein.
- For a vegetarian try chickpeas, black beans, edamame or boiled eggs in place of meat.
- Add lots of veggies like peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, snap peas, mushrooms and red onion.
- If you are looking for some carbs as well as more texture try cooked brown rice, quinoa or Israeli couscous (not gluten-free).
- Soft cheeses add lots of flavor and texture but a little can go a long way like goat cheese, feta or blue cheese.
- Then add fun toppings like chopped nuts, dried fruit like raisins or cranberries, avocado, and thin apple slices. Toss in your dressing and voila.
This would be an easy meal to do vegetarian. Skip the meat and add in extra beans. You could also make 2 different batches and have lots of leftovers..always better the next day! I love adding chopped sweet potatoes in chili to add a little sweet with the acid from the tomato and extra veggies never hurt. My picky 9 y/o even likes it.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to work around having different diets at the dinner table. It takes a little extra time and effort but it's worth it to have a meal everyone can enjoy. Comment below if any of you are struggling with this as well and have any tips or if you have other restrictions you need help with.