Last week we talked about just starting out eating gluten free, but this week I want to focus on how to make things work when only part of the family eats gluten free.
Maybe one of your children just got an allergy or sensitivity diagnosis at the doctor, or maybe you’ve been doing some elimination diet testing and realized that your body feels better without gluten in your life. But your five year old still wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Believe it or not, it is possible for one member of the family to eat gluten free while the others don’t.
Obviously, take this with a big grain of salt. If someone in your family has an allergy and can’t even be around gluten due to cross-contamination, you’ll have to eliminate it for safety. But if it’s just something someone is avoiding, read on.
For instance, in our family, two of my daughters were sensitive to gluten when they were younger. They’ve since grown out of it, but through the process of eliminating gluten from their diets, I discovered that I’m also sensitive and just feel better when I don’t eat it very often.
Since my husband and at the time two other children could still eat gluten, we found ways to work around things without having to cook two separate meals. Because I’m the one who makes most of the meals, and I’m the one who still needs to avoid gluten most of the time, we’ve continued to use these methods to make food for our family for several years now.
Make at least one main meal every day for the family completely gluten free.
If it’s too overwhelming to try to figure out who can eat what, make every dinner gluten free (or breakfast, or lunch – whatever is the “main” meal at your house). That way you know that everyone can eat it, and you don’t have to add one more thing to your mental plate.
This has pretty much always been our standard, and we don’t even think about it any more. Dinner is always gluten free.
We don’t always eat the same breakfasts or lunches anyways, depending on school and work and appointments and whatever, but we are pretty much always all together for dinner, so that’s our gluten free meal together.
Make something that has separate components that people can assemble how they like it.
Taco bar can easily be gluten free and please the whole family. Just put out corn tortillas, tortilla chips, or salad fixings along with the flour tortillas, and top with all your taco favorites. (Find our favorite taco filling mixture here.)
Sandwiches can be made on wheat bread and gluten free bread, with the same assortments of meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments.
You can even just serve a snacky lunch that includes both gluten-full and gluten free items. Everyone can pick or choose a plateful of the things they want to eat. It may even end up being your kids’ favorite meal because they get to put their own plate together!
Make one ingredient twice.
If your kids think your gluten free spaghetti tastes weird, make a separate pot of regular noodles and share the sauce. Yes, you have to wash one more pan. But everyone’s happy.
Make gluten free pizza crust, and then regular pizza crust, and use the same toppings. I regularly make 2 different pizza crusts, and I use the same bowl! I just mix up the gluten free one first. (How We Do Homemade Pizza Nights)
Make two separate meals.
Occasionally, I will make something gluten free that my kids really dislike. And at that point? They get sandwiches or mac and cheese, and I enjoy my meal in peace. It’s certainly not an everyday option to be a short order chef, but every once in awhile, it’s a valid choice.
Go out to eat.
As long as you find someplace that has a gluten free option that you enjoy, chances are there will be plenty of non-gluten free options that your family members will also enjoy. You don’t have to worry that you’re depriving them of a meal they love, because they get to pick something yummy off the menu too!
There’s a local burger place that has gluten free buns as an option. That’s what I order, and everyone else gets their standard cheeseburgers.
However you choose to do it, there are plenty of ways to integrate one family member’s gluten free eating with everyone else’s, and still please everyone. (Most of the time. I am not a miracle worker and usually somebody doesn’t like dinner. It happens. But you know what I mean.)