This year has brought new challenges to my weekly Sunday food prep with no less than three different diets in our family now.
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Weight Loss, Weight Gain…
After much consideration, one of our girls decided to become a vegetarian this year. Our other daughter is seeing a dietitian and is on a diet to gain weight, trying to put on 10 pounds. And then there’s me: gluten-free and trying to shed 10 pounds (if only I could just pass it off to my daughter).
By now, friends and family members are used to me discussing our Sunday food prep on social media, but this week, upon hearing of my new challenge in the kitchen…
I had several of them ask ‘what are you cooking??’ and ‘can you share some of your ideas?’
Maybe it’s just the time of year that had them asking, you know, when everyone is still going strong on New Year’s resolutions to eat differently, or maybe it was just curiosity to see how I was approaching the problem, I don’t know.
Regardless, after I happily spent a couple of hours cooking, I answered their questions and got big thanks in return, and so today’s post is a result of all of that.
How to Approach So Many Diets at Once
So how did I to handle more than one diet and keep food prep to a minimum?
My strategy was to use as many of the same ingredients for all three diets as I could to avoid spending a fortune on groceries, and to keep us all eating as similarly as possible just for simplicity’s sake. I also looked for recipes and meal ideas that would allow me to make simple switches like adding whole milk or cream in place of our regular 2% milk, adding protein powder, or making one dish with two different sauces or dips.
Thankfully, I was able to tweak some of our favourite recipes and add a couple new ones to the mix to keep everyone happy (at least for this week).
Here’s what I did:
- I took one of our tried-and-true soup recipes and split it: I made the base of my regular broccoli soup recipe using a veggie stock and split it in half. One half I left as is (lower calorie), and to the other half I added cream and cheddar cheese to make it a creamy broccoli and cheddar soup (higher calorie with added protein).
- I put together a mountain of fresh veggies for lunches and made two different dips to go with them: one a high-fat Ranch dip, and the second a cottage cheese low-fat version.
- I made a bunch of hard-boiled eggs and put them whole in the refrigerator. This way, they can either be pulled out and eaten whole as a snack, or quickly made into egg salad for sandwiches or wraps.
- A batch of homemade waffles was turned into a higher protein version by adding Greek yogurt to the batter and using whole milk instead of 2% (you could also add protein powder). As a bonus, the rest of the Greek yogurt can be used as a topping for the waffles during the week, or as a side dish mixed with a batch of fruit compote I whipped up.
- I made a batch of the girls favourite banana chocolate chip muffins. While one daughter is happy eating them plain, the other daughter who is trying to gain weight can add more calories to her diet by putting butter on hers.
- Oats were another source of protein the dietitian recommended, but our kids aren’t fans of oatmeal, so instead I made a batch of baked blueberry banana oatmeal cups. I used gluten-free ingredients and omitted the sugar completely to make them healthier and gluten-free (inspired by this recipe from Yummiest Food).
- To give my girls more protein and fiber, I switched out most of the rice puff cereal in the standard marshmallow treats recipe for high protein and high fiber cereals (another tip from the dietitian).
- Lastly, I made my usual beef chili recipe but replaced the beef with quinoa and added black beans.
In the end, the fridge was full and everyone has enough to pull from for breakfast, snacks and lunches, and we have one or two dinners ready to go. Sure it takes a little extra time to find the recipes that can be modified, but it’s worth it to know everyone’s week is off to a good start.
Now I just need to start pulling together a few ideas for next week….
Do you cook for different diets in your household? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear from you!