Preparing and planning meals ahead of time can make living on the low FODMAP regimen so much easier. You may need to set aside some time to do such preparation. However, this time will be well worth it when you can enjoy your meals and snacks for the week without much forethought as to whether it is a safe choice or not. Here are some tips to help you prep and plan your low FODMAP meals and snacks most efficiently.
Plan meals for the week
Use a whiteboard to hang on or near your refrigerator to display your dinner meal plan for the week. You can purchase such a board at your local dollar store or office supply store. Choose a protein and vegetable option for each day, and a whole grain starch if you choose to include it. Once you have decided on these basics of the meal, then you can figure out what seasonings or marinades you want to use to flavor your protein. Use this information to make a shopping list for the grocery store so you know exactly what ingredients you will need to complete your meals.
Use this method to plan your breakfast and lunch meals as well. Once your meal list for the market is done, then write down a few in between meal snack options on your shopping list. Fruit like unripe bananas, portable citrus fruits like oranges or clementines, or grapes are great in between meal snack choices. Salty snacks that are great for lunches include popcorn, gluten-free pretzels, or rice crackers.
For breakfast, gluten-free cereals with lactose-free or plant-based milks as well as eggs with cheddar cheese and a side of fruit are great breakfast options. If you are in a hurry, plan to purchase some ready-made low FODMAP oatmeal cups that just need a splash of water and a quick minute in the microwave to provide you a fiber and protein rich morning meal.
Make a shopping list
Use your meal plan to make a shopping list to take with you to the grocery store. A list will ensure that you have everything you need to prepare your meals and snacks for the week and will help prevent you from getting stuff not on the list that you do not need. If you need help on what foods to include and not to include in your cart, use this Casa de Sante low FODMAP shopping list as a reference guide.
Set aside a few hours during the week to prep
Once you have all the ingredients you need take a few hours on the weekend or 15 minutes each night to prep for your upcoming meals and snacks. Make sure you have plenty of dishwasher safe food containers on hand as well as sandwich bags for snacks. Follow the steps below to keep prepping organized and efficient.
- Start with breakfast: If you are having a quick meal, then just have it ready to go in the refrigerator the night before in a bag with your fruit, utensil, and napkin. Otherwise, make sure you get up 30 minutes earlier than usual to prepare yourself cereal, eggs, or whatever you choose and take your time eating it before getting ready for your day. Rushing through meals can cause bloating and discomfort that would not start your morning off right.
- Prep veggies and fruit for lunch and dinner: Wash, rinse, and chop salad greens, veggies, and fruit for meals and snacks. Place vegetables in freezer bags in the freezer if you do not plan on eating them right away. Otherwise, place in a sealed storage bag or container if you are planning on using them for a salad or side dish for that next day’s meal.
- Portion out snacks: Portion out your salty snacks in appropriate portion sizes in sandwich bags and place in a bin or basket in your pantry so you can just grab one each night when packing your lunch for the next day. Keep gut-friendly and shelf stable snacks like low FODMAP granola, crackers, and ZenGut soup in your pantry so you have quick grab and go options on hand. For fruits and veggies, portion chopped veggies and fruits in sandwich bags and store in crisper drawer to keep fresh until you are ready to use them for packing your lunch meals.
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD, Board-certified dietitian.