Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Main Meals for Kids

I find my biggest challenge is providing a balanced week day menu for my children after school. Their school will not provide them with a hot lunch, so I make up a cold lunch daily for them both. Their older brother is "only" gluten free which is slightly easier, and his High School provide him with a nutritious hot meal every day which is a MASSIVE help to me.


Like many other children with food allergies, my twins have some swallowing issues. Reflux alone usually means "sticky" food is harder to swallow, and really dry food can stick at the back of the throat. This is because reflux often desensitises that area making the swallow reflex slightly delayed - usually not much of an issue but in persistent reflux it can become a problem.

Our daughter suffers particularly with this and has to sit upright, pace herself and is very good now (at age 8) in knowing what she can and cannot manage to eat without risking choking.

And, like almost ALL children, those with allergies will still have likes and dislikes, favourites and food they wouldn't touch with the proverbial bargepole. Lastly, children with food related disorders and health conditions almost always have an overly strong emotional relationship with food. It *really* matters to them, it is often a bigger focus than maybe it should be, and they care deeply about what they can and will eat. (And what they can't!) So catering for this group can be akin to stumbling blindly through a minefield!


It's therefore even less acceptable to fob them off with the same meal several days a week (unless there are other reasons for doing so, we did it when weaning our son from tube feeds so I would never condemn anyone!) and given their dietary restrictions, nutritional content is absolutely KEY. I recently wrote about the Free From Food industry and whilst it is fine to use ready meals occasionally, most are high in salt and sugar to add flavour. You simply cannot beat cooking from scratch -and it really isn't difficult.

So here is a sample week-day meal planner for primary aged children, which you can rotate as necessary. It relies on several staples which you can easily keep in your freezer and a couple of half days (or evenings) of batch cooking. I've tried to exclude recipes which have the main allergens in, and the majority are meals you can cook in advance and freeze if desired.


Do click on the chart or link above as the PDF you will download has all the necessary links embedded. The picture below is just that - a picture.





This week is WORLD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK. It focusses more on IgE responses. Allergy UK are hosting an Awareness Week starting 28th April  And 12th-18th May is Food Allergy Awareness Week.



If you would like to help explain food allergies to children, this is a useful place to start. For schools, I wrote this a while ago for Healthy Eating Week in schools although it's focus is EGID and the longer "Gut Allergies, why we need awareness and understanding".




Free From Farmhouse

35 comments:

  1. What a great meal plan! I am really impressed by your organisation. I will definitely refer to it and try some of your recipes. Mel

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  2. You seem very organised but then I suppose you have to be! I am lucky my children can, and will, eat just about anything.

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  3. Thank you for pointing out that it is allergy week. My mum suffers from gluten intolerance and we have made ammends in our own diets to co-incide with when we are out with her and we have noticed a huge difference x

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  4. Some lovely ideas on your meal plan. I really need to be more organised in this department

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  5. What a great idea doing a meal plan

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  6. I keep meaning to start meal planning, as opposed to my current 'stand in supermarket aisle looking confused' approach! We dont have allergies, and I still find it a struggle to find enough meals that can be easily adapted so that everyone can eat more or less the same meal each night! I often wish we could just have a sandwich....

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  7. Your meal plan sounds lovely. It must be so difficult to pin point what has caused the allegy in the first place but I guess once you do know you can work around it. It is good to highlight that it is allergy week this week x

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  8. So organised, I imagine you have to be really x

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  9. Very good meal plan , just wish i could stick to them lol .x

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  10. We started a meal plan in the new year and I found it really helped...it may have slipped a little in the last month but this has inspired to redo ours!

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  11. What a wonderfully helpful email for 'Allergy Week'. I cannot imagine what it must be like trying to cater for children with allergies, it's difficult enough cooking for children without! I am sure that many people will benefit from this :)

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  12. this is very organised! will pass it on to friends who need it!

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  13. That meal plan looks fantastic! I so wish I could get organised. We don't have allergies but we do have a very fussy eater. xx

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  14. Wow that is such hard work for you and I'm really surprised the school won't provide meals. It looks like you've put together an amazing meal plan for them though and it sounds yummy!

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  15. What a great meal plan and well done for sorting out and looking after your children.

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  16. Great meal plan. I also meal plan and it helps so much.

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  17. wow I'm really surprised at the school! the meal plan looks amazing though, well done you x

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  18. Some useful suggestions there. I rely heavily on batch cooking and this has given me some fresh ideas.

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  19. Gosh Kate you never cease to amaze me with your recipes, this menu is incredible. Good to know it's World Allergy Week I didn't know that and we're allergy central here :)

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  20. I have made a pact to start meal planning once home from holiday as we really need to start saving money on the shopping bills. I am impressed by your organisation!

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  21. A really informative post for those who have to deal with allergies.

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  22. What a great meal plan and post, real food for thought about enjoying food too and the importance of having a healthy relationship with food.

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  23. What a fantastic resource and great meal plan. I love this post and so many people are going to find it so very useful. Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo and I hope to see more of your posts from here Emma :) x

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  24. Wow so organised, it must be tricky to cook for children with allergies, but it sounds so tasty x

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  25. Fab meal plan. Have you considered using a food flask to give them warm meals at school at lunch time?

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    1. Yes Jen - we have one :) A is SO fussy though that he only likes plain food which dries out quite a bit, but K sometimes has hot meals :)

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  26. What a great idea. Some lovely meals on your planner. We could all learn from planning our meals better to get a balanced diet I think

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  27. your meal plan sounds brilliant! how odd they won't provide them with a hot lunch, I have to admit it's a relief to me that Wilf's nursery do such great options, at least I know he's eaten well once a day ;) x

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  28. These are really great ideas. There are numerous intolerances in our house and I'm so disorganised in coping with it so it's helpful to see something laid out like this. Thank you.

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  29. What a great chart! There are so many allergies to remember these day. Thank you!

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  30. You are so organised, but then I guess you need to be. Really opens my eyes to how much parents of children with food allergies need to take into account when meal planning.

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  31. What a brilliant meal plan. I really must get organised and do something like this, it must take a lot of work to do it but save time day to day.

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  32. What a great idea,planning meals is a great way to organise balanced meals without repitition.

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  33. This looks like such a great help, I struggle with getting a varied diet in my children and they don't even have allergies, unless fussiness counts!

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  34. You are so organised! Love the idea of a meal plan. I might just make one for the family.

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Many thanks for taking the time to comment!

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