Are you an experienced meal prepper and planner with a spreadsheet and electronic list always on the go? Or more of a ‘last minute supermarket run’ kind? Maybe like most of us you’re somewhere in between.
The fact is, if you’re an experienced meal prepper, you’re going to be first out of the starting blocks and up and running on the low FODMAP diet. Planning and preparation are key when you’re starting a new diet – and can sometimes mean the difference between a positive experience and big fat headache. If you’re not known for your meal organisation skills and menu plans then don’t fear – it’s never too late to start, and this dietitian’s guide’s to meal prepping on a low FODMAP diet is just for you.
1. Brainstorm: come up with a list of low FODMAP meals you’ll enjoy
You may like to think about what’s in season (seasonal produce is cheaper, and often tastier and nutritionally superior). Also think about how long you’re going to plan and prep for, and how much space you have in your freezer and fridge.
You’ll also need to think about who you’re meal planning for. If it’s the whole family, crowdsourcing ideas and making sure everyone has a few favourites in the mix can save mealtime tension. If it’s just for you, picture the way you’d like to be eating and the types of foods you want to make up the backbone of your diet (hint: whole foods and minimally processed foods is where it’s at). And don’t forget simple, filling ideas for snacks and meals on the run when needed.
If you’re new to low FODMAP cooking, now’s the time to research what recipes you’d like to try, as well as how to modify your old favourites. Sometimes it can be as simple as substituting Lo-Fo Pantry low FODMAP plain flour into your usual muffin recipe. Other times it might mean a leap of faith into previously uncharted cooking territory. You may like to set yourself a gentle challenge, like cooking one new recipe each week. You’ll also find online that many experienced dietitians are offering low FODMAP meal plans and recipes. These could save you hours!
You don’t need to schedule all 21 meals and snacks for the week to reap the benefits of meal planning and prepping. If it all seems a bit much to get your head around, how about starting with three planned dinners and lunches, and baking something for snacks?
2. Get shopping
Well, you can’t nail the meal prepping if you don’t have the right ingredients! You can begin with your usual shopping list and modify the items to suit your new diet. Or you could start with a standard ‘low FODMAP shopping list’ from your dietitian, and tinker with it to suit your needs.
Take advantage of the many certified low FODMAP products that are now available, and enlist your label reading skills by researching new products online before you head to the shops. Here’s a few staple suggestions to get you started:
- Lactose free or plant-based milk and yoghurt, a range of different cheeses like feta, tasty, parmesan and bocconcini
- Fresh meat, fish, chicken, eggs, tofu
- Low FODMAP nuts, seeds, tinned lentils, tomatoes and chickpeas
- Fresh and frozen low FODMAP fruits and vegetables
- Tinned staples like tuna, salmon, tomatoes, coconut milk
- Low FODMAP breads, Lo-Fo Pantry low FODMAP plain flour for baking, breakfast cereals, gluten free pasta, rice, rice/buckwheat noodles and quinoa.
- Low FODMAP snacks: suitable muesli bars, crackers, dark chocolate, lactose free yoghurt
- Low FODMAP sauces, stocks, herbs, spices and infused oils
3. Now get prepping
Can you set aside some time each weekend (or weeknight if your weekends are particularly hectic) to do some basic meal prep? Prepping may entail pre-cooking an entire meal and freezing meal sized portions. Or it could just be pre-chopping, portioning, and par-cooking. Enlist the help of other household members. Divide and conquer!
Here’s a few dietitian favourites to help you get meal prepping with minimal fuss:
Snacks and light meals
- Slice up vegetable sticks (carrot, cucumber) and portion with cheese or low FODMAP dips into snack sized containers
- Make up a trail mix with your favourite low FODMAP nuts, seeds and allowed dried fruit
- Whip up a low FODMAP pesto or smoky eggplant dip
- Hard boil eggs, or make mini frittatas for a quick breakfast or lunch on the go
- Bake savoury or sweet muffins using Lo-Fo Pantry low FODMAP plain flour
- Try your hand at a home-made tray of low FODMAP muesli bars
- Make a batch of overnight oats or chia puddings
- Chop fruit for fruit salad or portion and freeze for smoothies
Main meal prepping
- Wash salad leaves or slice up coleslaw ingredients and pre-build your salads for weekday lunches
- Make up a batch of low FODMAP salad dressing
- Precook chicken (roast, poach or pan fry), slice and portion for sandwiches, rice paper rolls or homemade sushi
- Make your own low FODMAP stock (if you’re so inclined)
- Batch cook a large portion of stew, pasta sauce, risotto or soup then portion into meal sized microwave proof containers
- Pre-make beef, fish or veggie burger patties
- Pre-chop vegetables and pre-cook rice for a speedy fried rice the next night
Meal planning and prepping options on a low FODMAP diet are limited only by your time constraints, imagination and physical fridge and freezer space. Once again, it doesn’t need to be all or nothing – baby steps are okay. Time to get brainstorming! And don’t forget to enlist the help of your experienced dietitian.