Making the switch to a dairy-free/gluten-free lifestyle can be tricky at first, but with a few simple tricks and preparation hacks, you can save yourself a great deal of time and energy. Choosing one day a week to do meal prepping/planning is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you will be prepared for sticking to your dairy-free/gluten-free changes. Below is a list of things to consider when preparing what to eat every week.
1. Proteins – Protein sources are the most important component of a meal to prepare in advance in order to save time and money.
• Hard-boil large batches of eggs
• Bake a frittata
• Cook a large batch of beans
• Keep nuts and seeds stocked
• Roast a whole chicken
• Buy canned tuna, sardines, or salmon
2. Starchy vegetables – Starchy vegetables are great to cook at the beginning of the week all at once as they have a longer cooking time and keep for around a week after cooking.
• Roast a large batch of starchy vegetables all at once – squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, beets
• Keep in fridge to easily heat up, toss in a salad, or puree into a soup
3. Non-starchy vegetables – Non-starchy vegetables require a bit more attention, as they don’t keep as long as starchy vegetables.
• Chop commonly used vegetables all at once and store (onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers)
• Make Mason-jar salads by layering with protein at the bottom topped with various vegetables and leafy greens
• Sauerkrauts and kimchi are easy to keep for long periods of time and are a great source of probiotics!
4. Fats – Ensuring you get enough fat is highly important, as it helps to support your brain health, helps to stabilize blood sugar, and also satiates hunger for longer periods of time.
• Eat nuts and seeds regularly
• Keep avocados of varied levels of ripeness to make sure they don’t rot all at once
• Buy coconut milk regularly to use for curries, soups, smoothies, or sauces
• Best non-dairy oils include: coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), avocado oil, and olive oil
5. Grains – Grains are easy to all make at once and to add to meals as needed. Most grains will keep well in the fridge for around a week.
• Make big batches of rice, quinoa, or oatmeal once or twice a week.
• Use grains for stir-fries, salads, or just as a side dish to meals.
6. Meal Examples:
• Spaghetti squash, tomato sauce, spinach, and mushrooms (*ground beef option)
• Thai curry soup with coconut milk, tomato paste, broth, butternut squash, tofu, onions, peppers, and curry spices
• Sauteed barbeque tempeh, mashed sweet potatoes, sautéed garlic asparagus
• Falafel with hummus, stuffed grape leaves, olives, and side of cucumber, tomato, and parsley salad
• Tacos with corn tortillas or cabbage leaves, onions, peppers, guacamole, beans, lettuce, and salsa
• Gluten-free pizza topped with dairy-free pesto (substitute cashews for parmesan), tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, carmelized onions, and butternut squash
• Veggie burgers topped with avocado, sautéed onions, and salsa, oven fries, and side salad
• Indian curry with tomatoes, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, cauliflower, peas, and basmati rice
• Fried rice with eggs, broccoli, greens onions, bell peppers, and peanuts
• Mason-jar salad with beans, avocado, mixed greens, almonds, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and lemon vinaigrette
7. Breakfast Ideas – Most people find that breakfast is a difficult time to be dairy and gluten free. However, there are many different foods you can still eat!
• Smoothies with fruit, veggies, non-dairy milk, and hemp protein powder
• Omelets with veggies and/or breakfast meat
• 2 hard-boiled eggs, piece of fruit
• Veggie hash with sweet potatoes, eggs, peppers, onions, and spinach
• Breakfast tacos with eggs, beans, sautéed veggies, avocado, and salsa
• Oatmeal topped with pumpkin and chia seeds, bananas, cinnamon, honey, and coconut oil
8. Snacks – With snacks it is important to keep them easily accessible and transportable. Keep a bag of nuts in your purse or at your desk to always have access to a healthy snack. Always make sure to eat a protein or fat with each snack to keep blood sugar levels stable
• Nuts/seeds and fruit
• Carrots/cucumbers and hummus
• Mini smoothies
• Homemade granola bars
Whenever you are making substantial diet shifts, give yourself some time to adjust. Like all major changes, it will most likely be difficult at first and get easier over time.
• Make a big batch of a meal and freeze half so that you are not eating the same thing everyday.
• Designate each day of the week with cuisine themes to make it easier to prepare each week and create a structure to work from.
• Roast large batches of vegetables and cook grains while you are doing other things around your house.
• Keep a dry-erase board on your fridge to keep track of important ingredients as they run low.
• When eliminating foods from your diet, it is important to try and add other foods to keep your diet fun and interesting. Try new foods and recipes!
Angie Schoenherr receives her certification as a Master Nutrition Therapist from the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado. In addition to her formal nutrition training, she has extensive experience working on sustainable vegetable, agriculture, and herb farms. Being a firm believer in the healing power of food and herbs, Angie's goal is to help others gain a deeper understanding of how important diet choices are in achieving optimal health. Learn more her here.