How to Cater for Different Diets Without Cooking Multiple Meals

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When someone joins my email newsletter, I send them a welcome email with a link to down load my amazing free eCookbook.

I also ask about their biggest problem when it comes to cooking.

One of the surprisingly common responses is having to cater for different dietary requirements in the one house.

Something I’m only too familiar with.

In my house I like to eat Low Carb to manage my diabetes.

My small boys have a big distrust of anything green. And love all things carb.

Then there’s my Irishman who is still following the low FODMAPS plan to help heal his gut and get on top of his IBS symptoms.

So how do I manage these different dietary requirements?

Without having to cook multiple meals…

It doesn’t need to be difficult.

How to Cater for Different Diets Without Cooking Multiple Meals

1. Focus on what everyone CAN eat.

The first and easiest solution is to find a meal that will please everyone.

So ask yourself what can everyone eat?

Part of the problem is we define allergies or taste preferences by what we ‘don’t / can’t’ eat.

So this becomes the focus.

Changing the way you think about the problem is key.

2. Serve different sides.

Serve the main component of the meal with different side dishes is pretty much how I cook all meals.

For example, when we had these Quick Cheese Burgers with Chipotle Mayo, I served the cheesey burger patties alone on brioche buns for the boys.

I had my burger patties ‘naked’ with the spicy mayo and a coleslaw. (Soo good!)

My Irishman had all of the above.

3. Serve different protein

If you think of a vegetarian and non-vegetarian, it’s about serving different types of protein.

So in our burger example above, I’d make chickpea burgers or zucchini burger patties for the vegetarians and beef for the carnivores.

Everyone could have the ‘slaw and mayo (with or without buns).

4. Accept the situation

There are times when the easiest option is to cook separate meals.

And that’s OK.

Then it’s important to use simple recipes.

If you’re cooking 2 separate meals but each meal is only taking you 10-15 minutes, then getting in and out of the kitchen in 30 minutes is still a great result!

Bonus Tip: Cook in Bulk

Apart from using simple Stonesoup recipes to begin with, the other habit I rely heavily on is ‘mise en place‘.

Or cooking in bulk.

Whenever I’m in the kitchen, I look for ways to make extra now.

This saves me time later on.

So if I’m cooking rice for the boys to have with a stir fry, I’ll make extra and freeze it to have as fried rice later in the week.

Or if I’m making coleslaw as in our example above, I’d shave / grate extra veg to use for subsequent lunches or dinners.

Your future self will thank you!

What about you?

Do you struggle to cater for different dietary requirements? Need some extra help?

I’d love to hear about your situation in the comments below.

More on special diets

And have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

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7 Comments

  • This is a great post. For my husband, the more carbs the better. My system isn’t happy with any carbs or grain at all. My adult children and grandchildren have the following restrictions: lactose intolerance, keto diet, paleo diet, and picky kid syndrome. They were all here this past weekend. Lots of fun. Also lots of meat, veggies (some like them cooked, others won’t eat unless it’s raw), and fruit for the non keto people. No wonder I spent Monday recuperating :)

  • This post is my life right now! I’m a breastfeeding mum (so starving most of the time!), I’m a vegetarian and currently dairy free for bubs. My husband prefers low carb and is a total carnivore, and I have a three year old who believes pasta and chips are the only edible foods in the world. This is what I do really love about your recipes- I choose one, cook the meat option for my husband and daughter, vegie for myself, add the dairy replacement and then the extra carbs for myself and my girl. It takes about ten extra minutes of meal planning before I food shop, but when we finally sit down to eat together it basically looks the same and we all really enjoy it!

  • Hi, I can see most of the comments on here are from over a year ago, so maybe I’m too late…

    My husband has decided to go Keto to lose some weight (not that he needs to, but he’s a fitness fanatic and rock climber).
    We tried it together in January and it went pretty well, but I’m not committed enough, nor have the desire to stick to it rigidly like he does (plus I love carbs!).
    I’m concerned if I start cooking low carb-high fat foods for us both, my body won’t go into ketosis and I’ll potentially be clogging up arteries etc as the fat won’t be burned off.
    How could I make less fatty versions of meals for myself while still supporting my husband’s Keto diet, without having to make 2 meals..?

    • Hi Iona!

      You’re right to be concerned, if you are going to eat carbs AND be high fat that is not a good combination.

      But you don’t have to be in ketosis to benefit from eating less carbs. Anything that prevents blood sugar spikes is helpful for allowing your body to use the fuel it has stored.

      The same advice hols true as I outline in the post above. In your case focus on the sides / condiments. So if you cook a steak – serve it with something high fat (nuts / butter / mayo etc) for your husband. And have a lower fat accompaniment for yourself (fresh lemon juice is amazing on steak).

      The other thing is to just adjust the quantities. So give your hisband a larger serving of the higher fat food and give yourself a smaller serving of the high fat component and then serve yourself extra veggies to make up the bulk.

      I hope that helps!

  • I have the unique problem of having myself (currently needing about 1400 calories a day) AND my boyfriend (needing about 3000 calories per day w/ a small appetite) to cook for. Do you have any advice for me?

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