How to Meal Plan on the Low FODMAP Diet
Did you know that we spend an average of 120 minutes of our time at the grocery store each week? Yes, that’s two hours! If you’re anything like me, you likely want to get in and get out so you can spend time doing other things you enjoy more. The longer we are shopping around, the more money we end up spending - often on things we don’t actually need. Plus, when you throw in the additional challenge of shopping for low FODMAP foods, it can feel like we spend half our lives at the grocery store!
These are all issues that can be solved by developing better meal planning skills. When I meal plan, I end up reducing my shopping time by at least 50 percent. Not to mention, I can actually stick to my budget. It’s a win-win.
With my clients, I always emphasize the importance of meal planning, especially when following a low FODMAP diet. When you have a set plan, you are less likely to have negative symptom outcomes, as you end up cooking more at home and therefore have more control over what goes into your food. This helps avoid the unknown FODMAPs that are commonly in restaurant meals or quick, convenience foods.
Today I want to talk about how you can learn to streamline meal planning to better fit your budget, IBS health goals, and busy lifestyle. In particular, we are going to review my quick, three-step approach to meal planning that works every time!
Create a low FODMAP 'master meal list'
Sourcing and deciding on low FODMAP recipes is half the battle of creating a meal plan. The internet is a vast and overwhelming place when it comes to recipes. There are just so many! When you find those diamonds in the rough – recipes that work for YOU and your family – keep them close. Start creating a list of your favorite low FODMAP meals that you can easily add to your weekly meal plans each week. Think of this like a “drag and drop” system - once you have your list, meal planning will be a breeze! Keep in mind, you should only have to update this master meal list every few months, so taking 15-30 minutes to sort this out now will be a big payoff!
Bonus tip: Get your family involved! What recipes would they like to have in your regular meal rotation? This helps keep everyone happy.
Start creating your low FODMAP meal plan calendar
It's key to write things down when meal planning and you will need somewhere to write your weekly plan. This can be a wall calendar, whiteboard, or your weekly planner. Writing things down helps us to commit to them. It’s like a to-do list for your gut. Once you have your dedicated meal planning space, start by choosing three to four anchor meals. These are meals that you will make for dinner and they will likely make enough for leftovers as well. Start to fill in dinners and lunches accordingly. You will want to put your anchor meals on days when you know you have enough time - so not on a day when you’re rushing the kids to soccer practice!
Bonus tip: I suggest only committing to one new recipe each week, as too much experimenting can feel overwhelming.
Fill in the blanks with the easy stuff
Lastly, fill in any empty dinner and lunch spaces with easier to prepare meals that take 15 minutes or less. Great examples include stir-fry using leftover produce from your fridge, low FODMAP pasta dishes, sandwiches, wraps, snack platters, or omelets. I LOVE breakfast for dinner on those busy nights!
Bonus tip: Save your breakfast planning until the end, but don’t forget about it! We tend to be a bit more routine when it comes to breakfast, but it is still good to write it down. Having a plan is also great in case you want to prepare your breakfast the night before.
If you struggle with meal planning on a low FODMAP diet, working with a registered dietitian is highly recommended. In the meantime, you can get started on your weekly meal plan by brainstorming at least 10 low FODMAP recipes or meal ideas that you enjoy on a regular basis to start your master meal list. This is the core of any meal plan and makes the whole process so easy!
Have you tried eating smaller portions to manage symptoms?