This blog post is written by nutrition student volunteer Justine Chriqui and edited by Lauren Renlund.
Most of the time I have no idea what I am going to eat, and when I finally make a decision, I frequently end up eating the quickest (and not really the healthiest) meal. Whether you have a busy schedule or don’t feel very motivated to eat well, food prepping is a great tool that can be used to guide your eating habits throughout the week. Here are 10 helpful tips for creating a low FODMAP food prepping routine!
TIP #1 – FIND SOME LOW FODMAP RECIPES
Having a collection of tasty recipes is hands down the most important part about food prepping. Eating a low FODMAP diet can be challenging, especially if you are just starting out, but it is definitely not impossible! Luckily there are many low FODMAP cookbooks and websites with great recipes. Here are some links with low FODMAP recipes:
- Lauren’s Recipes
- A Little Bit Yummy
- Kate Scarlata
- Patsy Catsos
- Everyday Nutrition
- IBS Nutrition
- FODMAP and Adapt
You can organize your recipes by printing them off and keeping them in a binder or creating bookmark folders in your internet browser. If you have cookbooks use sticky notes to mark your favourite recipes or use your printer to copy and print the recipe to add to your binder.
If you find recipes on other websites or in a cookbook, check all of the ingredients using the Monash app or Lauren’s low FODMAP chart. Unfortunately, there are lots of recipes that claim to be low FODMAP but aren’t. You can also use the app or chart to help you adapt your old favourite recipes.
TIP #2 – FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE HEALTHY PLATE MODEL
The Healthy Plate Model is a guide that many dietitians use to direct individuals toward creating healthy meals. The model was made to make it easier for individuals to make healthy choices about their food1. A healthy plate includes vegetables and/or fruit, whole grains and starches (like potatoes) and a source of protein (poultry, fish, meat, soy, eggs, etc). A small amount (1-2 teaspoons) of healthy oils/fats are also recommended (such as extra virgin olive oil). Have a glass of water on the side, or a lactose-free milk or milk alternative.
Eating balanced meals following this model will help you have a healthy diet – without having to count calories or nutrients. Don’t worry about making every single meal look like this, it is just a guide!
TIP #3 – PLAN OUT YOUR MEALS
Now that you have found some recipes and are familiar with the Healthy Plate Model, you can start planning well-balanced meals! It is now important to get into the real planning of your meals. What I first like to do is create a chart for what my meals of the week will be. Something like this may be helpful for you:
You can create printouts, write it on a white board, write in a notebook… the possibilities are endless!
If you are new to food prepping, don’t feel like you have to jump right into planning out every single meal. Maybe start off with planning for a few meals, and then increase from there. Food prepping is a skill, so the more you practice it the better you will become!
Be creative with your meals – it doesn’t have to be the same meal every day! It also doesn’t have to be a unique recipe each meal. You can create many combinations of meals for all seven days of the week. Leftovers from dinner can be great for a quick lunch! Low FODMAP vegetarian and vegan meals are also possible!
The great thing about food prepping is that it will save you money in the long run. Not only will you meet your nutrient intake needs and have meals for the whole week, but you will be saving your well-earned money and reduce waste!
If you are feeling unsure where to begin, click here to see a full sample day of the low FODMAP diet (elimination phase) or here to see a sample low FODMAP vegetarian day.
TIP #4 – SNACKS ARE IMPORTANT TOO
Many people don’t realize the benefits of healthy snacks. They can help get you out of that “afternoon slump,” and decrease intense hunger and overeating at your next meal2. Planning out and preparing healthy snacks in advance are great ways to avoid reaching for that sugary drink from Starbucks or that chocolate bar calling your name at the drugstore.
A healthy snack, according to Eat Right Ontario, is a snack that includes at least two of the four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide3. Examples of low FODMAP snacks could be: sliced banana with peanut butter, a small bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, low FODMAP crackers with cheese, and air popped popcorn with a few almonds (less than 10 almonds to stay low FODMAP).
Fibre and protein are two nutrients that are very filling. Click here for more information about creating a healthy and filling snack. Lauren also has an e-book with Quick and Easy Snack Recipes.
TIP #5 – CREATE A GROCERY LIST
Once you have created your meal plan (with snacks!), ensure that you have all the ingredients you need for preparing your recipes. If you don’t already have everything you need, create a grocery list that separates all foods into categories. Here is a great template that you can use to organize the items you need. This will help make shopping more efficient, and ensure that you have all the ingredients. And remember, the “TREATS” section is there for a reason! You do not need to restrict all treats on the low FODMAP diet. Occasional treats are part of an overall healthy diet.
TIP #6 – GATHER YOUR TOOLS
So, you’ve planned your meals and you have all the ingredients you need. Now it’s time to make sure that you have all the physical tools you need for preparing your food. Containers with compartments that section off areas for different foods are very useful, however regular single compartment containers will also do the trick. Plastic freezer bags can be very useful for things like smoothie mixes. The bags can be stored in the freezer so that when they’re ready to be made, the ingredients can be thrown in the blender and save you time. Bags are great for oatmeal mixes as well.
Mason jars and other jars are great for making single servings of soup or salads! Having a utensil kit to bring to work/school is also great, as it is environmentally friendly and reduces the amount of plastic utensils thrown out.
Make sure to also have a reusable water bottle or mug with you to keep yourself hydrated!
TIP #7 – CHOOSE A DAY (OR DAYS) TO PREP FOOD ON
You are finally ready… the moment you have been waiting for! IT’S PREP TIME!
You will need to decide when you are going to prepare your food. Many people choose to prepare food on Sunday, however any day can work for you. Examples may be Sunday afternoons; every other day at 7pm; every evening before you go to sleep – really any day or time that works for you. Schedule a time that you know you can commit to and bask in the greatness of prepared meals and snacks throughout the week.
Note: it may be a good idea to prepare produce and dry goods for the week on one day and other items (like meat, fish, chicken, etc) closer to their days of consumption. Certain prepared foods should be left in the fridge for no longer than 4 days4! For more food safety information5, click here.
TIP #8 – MAKE YOUR FREEZER YOUR BEST FRIEND
The wonderful thing about freezers is that you can make massive batches of your favourite meals and keep them there for MONTHS! Freezing decreases the rate of microbial growth on foods so that they can last substantially longer than being stored in the fridge. Lauren’s French Oven Beef Stew is one example of a recipe that freezes well. Instead of making this recipe twice in two months, you could double the recipe and freeze the extras. Doubling the recipe would cut your prep time in half!
If you freeze many containers of single servings of your meals, it makes it much easier on yourself. Or if you have a family of four, freeze 4 servings per bag/container. To thaw, move the food from the freezer to the fridge the night before you want to eat it.
Another tip is to freeze fresh fruits and vegetables for any meals you are going to make. Click here for details on how to properly freeze vegetables so they look and taste great!
TIP # 9 – HAVE BACKUP PANTRY MEALS
Having a good supply of dry goods also comes in handy for meal prepping. With a fully stocked pantry, it is easy to make simple and quick meals. Some low FODMAP foods to keep in your pantry include pastas/noodles, sauces, broth, canned vegetables and fruits, canned lentils and chickpeas, nuts, seeds, canned fish, and whole grains (e.g., oats, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc.)
Keep your pantry full for backup food prepping options – these items provide a quick and easy solution to meal ideas during those busy and hectic weeks. If you fall behind on meal prepping, you will know that you still have some healthy foods in the house.
TIP #10 – USE THE APP OR CHART WHEN ON THE GO
Last but not least, we have our tenth tip! This tip is more relevant for days when eating out is the most convenient and least time-consuming option. Try to always keep a printed copy of Lauren’s FODMAP food chart with you or have the Monash app downloaded on your phone. Click here to see Lauren’s FODMAP food chart.
Note: If you do not have data on your phone, you can change the Monash app to offline mode before leaving your house. When the app is not on offline mode, you need an internet connection to view the foods. When you are home, turn off offline mode so the app can update.
The low FODMAP diet can seem very complicated, especially if you are just starting out. Having the app or chart on hand is very useful for days when you do not have any prepared food, or you decide to treat yourself to a nice meal out. Click here for more tips on eating at restaurants on the low FODMAP diet.
So there you have it, 10 tips for food prepping on a low FODMAP diet. Whether you are looking for options to save you time, or you just want to discover some cool recipes, these tips can help you lead a healthy, nutrient-rich life.
- Dietitians of Canada. (2015). Food label changes and new tools make choosing healthy foods easier. Retrieved from https://www.dietitians.ca/Media/News-Releases/2015/HC-Labelling-Plate.aspx
- Wax, E. (2016). Snacks for Adults. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000338.htm
- EatRight Ontario. (2012). Healthy snack ideas for adults. Retrieved from http://uat.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Weight-Management/Healthy-snack-ideas-for-adults.aspx
- Dakss. B. (2007) How Long Foods Stay Fresh in Fridge. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-long-foods-stay-fresh-in-fridge/
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2011). Food Safety. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/publichealth/foodsafety/chill.aspx
About the Guest Author
Justine is a third year student in the Applied Human Nutrition program at the University of Guelph. Her goal is to become a Registered Dietitian and help others lead healthy lives. Justine is passionate about healthy living and is interested about how different foods influence the human body. She is especially interested in sustainable living, keeping a plant-based diet to reduce her impact on the environment.