Organized meal planning is essential for families who are on the SCD as it helps reduce a lot of the stress of going on and staying on the diet. With focused meal planning, participants develop an understanding of what groceries are needed which leads to less redundancy of foods. It also helps promote a greater variety of meals, as parents can see what has been eaten most recently. And, it gives children an opportunity to have more of a say in what they are eating, which can help foster their SCD independence.
Another positive aspect of meal planning is that it allows families to plan for busy days. Meals can be prepared ahead of time (on the weekends, for instance), and frozen or stored in advance. Advance food prep, like always having veggies chopped up in baggies or soup frozen as ice cubes, can save valuable time and frustration in harried moments This can decrease the stress of having to make SCD-appropriate meals or snacks in a pinch or when time is tight.
There are many ways to meal plan, and lots of great online resources are available to help with that. What has worked well for many of the families seen here at Seattle Children’s is to make a weekly or biweekly meal plan. This enables IBD patients and their parents to prepare not only a variety of meals throughout the week, but also to make sure that enough snacks and goodies are available for nibbling. In addition, families can divide the work, with some family members doing the shopping while others prepare the food.
Effective meal planning needn’t be hard, and you can do it lots of different ways. First, decide what meals and foods you want to serve over the upcoming week or two weeks. This means thinking about the dishes and recipes that you and your family will like. It can be helpful to have a number of cookbooks or recipe websites available to help inspire you with ideas. Write out the names of these dishes. Then, on another piece of paper, write the shopping list based on these dishes. It also may also be useful to record these on a calendar. As time goes on, the family can see and rate what dishes they liked (or didn’t), and which ones should be made again.
It’s important when doing meal planning to realize that people eat more than just breakfast, lunch, and dinner and that snacks are an integral part of eating during the day. Write these out as well. You and your family should grade them too.
In meal planning, variety is the spice of life. A whole array of foods that are SCD-approved are awaiting you. These foods should be explored! As time goes on, you’ll accumulate a large number of recipes, and meal planning will be easier, even second nature.