A lot of the time, as a mom with IBD, we have a general idea of what’s good for our gut and what’s not, but actually making it happen, sticking to the diet we have laid out for ourselves, now that’s a different story.
We have this idea in our head of what healthy looks like, but buying the right food at the grocery store, making it efficient so we don’t end up back at the store every other day, doing it on a budget, finding the time to make this wholesome gut healthy food we bought, figuring out how to get the kids help in the kitchen and fit it in with their hectic schedules and your hectic schedule…
All of it is daunting, so overwhelming, so not-gonna-happen.
If the practicalities of eating gut healthy and meal planning for your Crohn’s and colitis is what is standing in the way of your intestinal healing, this is the episode for you my friend.
Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode
🌿 How many recipes you’ll want to have handy for the most effective meal planning strategy
🌿 The meal planning step you’re missing that’s leading to way too much food waste
🌿 Loads of ideas on how to involve your kids in gut healthy meal planning and prep to take tasks off of your plate (no matter the age of your kids)
Mentioned in This Episode:
Your “Find the Best Gut Healing Diet for Me” Episodes
Connect With Karyn:
Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning in 5 Easy Steps
A lot of the time, as a mom with IBD, we have a general idea of what’s good for our gut and what’s not, but actually making it happen, sticking to the diet we have laid out for ourselves, now that’s a different story. We have this idea in our head of what healthy looks like, but buying the right food at the grocery store, making it efficient so we don’t end up there every other day and doing it on a budget, finding the time to make this wholesome gut healthy food we bought, figuring out how to get the kids help in the kitchen and fit it in with their hectic schedules and your hectic schedule… all of it is daunting, so overwhelming, so not-gonna-happen.
If the practicalities of eating gut healthy and meal planning for your Crohn’s and colitis is what is standing in the way of your intestinal healing, this is the episode for you my friend.
Let’ get this gut loving party started.
Well, hello dear one. Karyn here with you on another episode of The Cheeky Podcast and it’s an honor to be with you again. It’s soccer tryouts time of year again. If you have kids in fall travel sports, you know what I’m talking about. I really dislike all the drama surrounding it. It seems so unnecessary and I’m looking forward for to it being done. Behind us. But on the upside, Mother’s Day just past and my kids gave me exactly what I needed—the option of rest and relaxation. It was perfect. How about you? I hope your day was filled with love from your kiddos and most of all, and good health.
Now, I’ve got some goodness coming your way today. Some super practical, tactical, actionable steps you can take to jump start the meal planning part of your gut healing foodie life. Like I said in the opening, I see so many mamas who have a general idea of the way they should eat, the foods that work for them and the foods that don’t, but so often getting started with these new foods or finding time to make them—that’s what stands in they’re way.
Now of course, that’s not every mom with Crohn’s and colitis. Some are still trying to figure out. They’re questioning, “What the heck is the best gut healing diet for me?” And if that’s you, don’t worry I’ve got you covered as well. Back in January, I did a series of episodes all about finding the best gut healing diet for your IBD. If you want some help figuring out what gut healing diets are the best options for you, check out Episodes 69, 70, 71, and 72. It’s a really detailed series. One that looks at the best, most researched gut healing diet options and literally walks you step by step as you figure out what works best for you.
So, know that those episodes are waiting for you if you’re in the “what’s the best diet for me” search and you can hear those episodes wherever you get your podcasts or you can also find them in the show notes. I’ll link to them there as well at karynhaley.com/88. No matter where you’re at with finding the best gut healing diet for you, one day you are going to need to take the knowledge you’ve gained about what foods work for you and which ones don’t and put those ideas into practice. I wish I could tell you that finding the diet that works best for you is the most challenging part, but it rarely is. The most challenging part is actually making the diet you choose a part of your daily life and a fitting it in with your family life as well.
The practicalities of gut healing, they trip us up every time.
But today, I’m hoping to solve the practicality dilemma for you and show you how to make gut healing eating a habits that are easy, repeatable, and work for your whole family. It’s all about meal planning and I’m going to show you how to do it in 5 easy steps. One last note to share is that I’ve got a cheat sheet for this episode, so if you find yourself writing furiously or you want a reminder, go ahead and download my Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning in 5 East Steps Cheat Sheet. Keep it as a resource as you are starting out on this path. And you can get your 5 Steps to Meal Planning Cheat Sheet at karynhaley.com/mealplan.
Shall we dive in? Let’s go for it.
OK, Step 1 in meal planning with your gut health in mind is all about having the right gut healing recipes on hand.
Step 1: The Recipe Hunt
Many people think that meal planning starts with sitting down and planning the meals for the week, but planning your meals for the week is going to take extra long if you don’t have recipes and meal ideas at your fingertips. So, instead of starting with planning the menus for the week, we take one small backstep that will lead you into a giant leap of a time savings with Step 1: The Recipe Hunt. And the recipe hunt is exactly what it sounds like—a hunt for your recipes.
What are your go-to meals?
What are your favorite foods?
How about your kid’s favorite foods?
What foods seem to work best with your sensitive gut?
Write these down first—just make some preliminary notes.
Now, with this information in mind, it’s time to cast a wider net and turn these thoughts and ideas into recipes.
Go to your favorite cookbooks, family recipes that can be made gut friendly (and let me know if you need help with this because it’s my favorite thing to do), go to one of the many gut healing recipe websites and blogs (A Life of Happenstance, Nom Nom Paleo, The Mediterranean Dish, Wholesome Yum—just to give you a few ideas), go to Pinterest (fantastic for recipes) and pull out, print, write down, put the recipes in an app. Put them in a safe place… all the recipes that appeal to you.
And you’ll want to pay close attention to the 5 ingredient meals, 30-minute meals, sheet pan meals, instant pot and crock pot meals… these are the easiest to make on a busy weeknight. The gourmet meals and the longer prep time meals are great, for when you have extra time or want an extra special dinner for a birthday or a holiday, but for everyday meal planning, focus on easy.
I have all my favorites in a recipe binder the I created. In fact, I think I have 2 or 3 at this point. I like things I can touch and feel, and spill sauces on ; ) So this works for me, but pick whatever method works for you. If this is your first time collecting recipes, finding ten would be an amazing B+ mom start. If you already have a few, then maybe shoot for about 20 total.
I’ve been recipe collecting to help me with meal planning for years now so I think I’ve accumulated about 100 go-to recipes, but that’s actually too many. 20-30 tops is all you ever need to put on rotation so you’re not feeling like you’re eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
Want a “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: At some point, when your collection starts to free up your meal planning time, start to categorize your recipes. You don’t need to do this at first. The important thing at first is to just do enough to take action. Later, meal planning can become much more streamlined this way. Soups, desserts, main meals, breakfast, etc… You’ll be so happy that you have this type of system in place.
Step 2: What’s Already in the House?
How many times have you gone to the grocery store and came home to put items away and found…one cucumber, two cucumber… “Huh? I forgot that was there!” We all do this. We forget what we already have in our house and stock up on too much, especially the perishables. Not it’s not the biggest deal to stock up on too many frozen carrots or another jar of ketchup, but fruit and veg that goes bad quickly—especially if you buy organic—not a good thing.
So do a quick once over before you even think about what you’ll be making for the week. See what you’ve got. See what you need.
Pantry, refrigerator, counter… When you first start doing this, it can seem a little daunting, but I promise you. You’ll get better at looking around to see what you’ve already got when you do this a couple times. It will become a very quick process.
Taking a peek to see what you already have means less food waste, but it also serves a second purpose. When you take a look at what you already have in your house before you make a grocery list, before you even decide on what to make for the week, you can plan your recipes accordingly. Do you have a lot of zucchinis in the refrigerator? Time for some zucchini boats or zoodles. Lettuce that’s getting on the older side? Plan for a cobb salad or a grilled chicken Caesar salad night. These are just ideas of course, but we all have food in our pantry or refrigerator that’s just waiting for a meal to be planned around it. Looking around before you decide what you’ll be eating for the week is always the best way to make gut healthy meal planning easy.
Want another “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: What foods can you combine to make 2 meals? Now we’re talking! You can make a roast one night and soup with the leftover meat and bones or you could do fish one night and fish sticks another night later in the week… now you are cooking with gas as mom always like to say.
Step 3: What’s on the Calendar?
Now that you’ve done a little bit of prep work, you have some recipes on hand, and you know what’s in the house so you don’t buy double to reduce food waste, it’s time to plan what you’ll be eating each night of the week. The best way to do this is to know what’s on the calendar for this week before you make your grocery list.
I like to plan for a week at a time. It’s manageable, it’s not too overwhelming like planning for two weeks or a month. It’s not too “fly by the seat of your pants” where you then end up at the grocery store daily… one week is enough to keep you on track.
So, your about to make a grocery list. What’s on tap for you and the kids for the week? My job has some night hours, so does my hubby’s, so I always keep that in mind when I’m deciding what to eat and when. Maybe you need to take this into account as well. How about the kids’ activities? Johnny has soccer on Tuesday nights, Katie has dance on Fridays… Think about all your evenings for the week. How will that affect how much time you have to make dinner?
If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of kids learning to cook at a young age. Every kid, boy, girl, it doesn’t matter—every kid needs to learn how to cook. It’s probably one of the best skills your kid can leave the house knowing. And when your kids know how to cook, that can be considered into your weekly schedule as well, because they can help make dinner at least one night of the week.
In my house, we’ve had different incantations of this over the years. We used to do “Make it Mondays,” where each of my kids took turns making the meal for that day of the week. They got to go through my recipe list or the internet or cookbooks and pick out whatever they wanted (appetizer to dessert) then they were in charge of making it. That was fun.
Right now, we get the kids involved in meal planning, mostly with my youngest. He takes an online cooking class through Outschool. Are you familiar with that platform? It’s full of awesome online learning experiences for kids with every class you can imagine. Anyway, he takes a cooking class on Outschool every Tuesday. In class, he makes dinner for the whole family and it gives me and my hubby a break from cooking once a week. Shish kebabs, flank steak, salmon, pasta dishes… he’s made it all. We’re not talking kiddie food here. He even substitutes out some ingredients to make it more gut healthy like using honey instead of sugar or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to stay away from gluten. His teacher is really helpful with food sensitivity substitutions.
He started this particular cooking class when he was ten, but there’s cooking classes on Outschool for kids that are even younger than that. Our kids are so much more capable in the kitchen than we give them credit for. And it’s best if we start them at a young age—right beside us as we chop, and measure, mix and whisk. Even the littlest tyke can help with making breakfast or lunch and grow into making dinner for the whole family.
A little digression from “What’s on the calendar for the week,” but if you find a way to make this tip work for your own family, you’ll take your kids planning a meal into account when you are planning your meals for the week. I always know that on Tuesday, dinner will be planned. All I have to do is print out the recipe and add it to the grocery list. Dinner served.
Plan your meals for the week keeping in mind where everyone will be at dinner time and who’s making the meal. It helps your meals go smoother during the week and it also helps everyone to eat healthier too because we all know that when we plan what we’ll be eating in advance, we always make it healthier.
We rarely say to ourselves on Sunday, “I can’t wait to get a Big Mac on Thursday.” It just happens when we fail to plan.
And are you ready for another “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP? Having a busy night doesn’t mean it’s a takeout night. Don’t shy away from home-cooked meals, even on busy nights. That’s the perfect night for the Instant Pot, the crockpot, sheet pan dinners where everything gets baked in one pan, or a leftovers night. Busy nights are what trips up many of the best intentioned gut loving mamas. Don’t let it derail you. Plan the nights you are eating out in advance when you plan your week and try your best so stick to it. Meal planning with this five-step method will really you stay focused and on track here.
OK, it’s time for Step 4 as you meal plan in five easy steps.
Step 4: Grocery List & Shop
In steps 1-3, you’ve done a lot of background work. You’ve set the stage for an easy peasy Step 4: Making your grocery list and going shopping. With all the time saving information you’ve gathered, it’s time to take some action.
Now I know the actual making of the grocery list can take so much time for some. Writing down each item you want individually. But also, so many moms have gotten away from that tedious task and I hope you have too.
If you really like a paper shopping list, one you can hold in your hand, and I have lots of clients that do, that’s OK. Just be sure it’s a pre-printed list of the things you normally buy. And that the list is separated by categories in order of the way you shop at the grocery store. That way you can follow it along in order as you go through the store. On grocery shopping day, all you have to do is circle your items or put a check mark next to what you need. Super time saving.
If you’ve never done a list like this before, it may take a little time to set it up on your computer, but it’s so worth it. You will love the easy breezy way you can make your list and shop at the grocery store when it’s all organized. Plus, you’ll be less apt to buy impulse items as well with a list that’s so structured.
Another way to rock step 4 (the grocery shopping step) is to buy in bulk. It saves time and it saves you money. Most grocery stores have bulk sections these days and it’s a great place to stock up on everything from nuts, to grains, to dried fruit, canned goods, salad dressings, paper towels… even fruit and veggies for those who are buying for big families. Buying in bulk whether it’s at your local grocery store or a discount bulk superstore like Costco or Sam’s can be an integral part of your meal planning process.
When you’re at the grocery store, you want most of the items in your shopping cart to come from the perimeter of the grocery store. We all know, this is where the healthy food lives. No cans, boxes, or packaged food on the perimeter. If you find yourself always in the middle of the aisles, it’s time to take stock of how gut healthy the food your bringing into your home is. Gut healthy food is about whole, fresh food. And of course, we are striving for B+ mom effort here so do the best you can.
One last way to simplify and streamline your grocery list and grocery shopping time is to ask yourself, “How can my kids help with this?” The answer to that we really depend on their ages.
Older kids can definitely help you keep track of food that runs out in your home. Keep a list on the frig or somewhere handy and encourage the kids to write down food that’s out or low. Find a day of the week when the kids are in charge of a meal or two. If you’re kids are old enough to drive, they’re old enough to help with the grocery shopping. In my house, I prefer to do the big once a week trip, but you better believe I’ve got those older ones heading to the grocery store for those mid week pick-ups if I have any. They can do it.
Get younger kids involved by helping you pick out items at the grocery store. I know it’s annoying shopping with the kids when they’re little. I certainly had my days where the kids would fight or throw a tantrum. We’ve all been there, but I’m so glad I kept taking them because over time, they learned to actually be helpful.
And when they got old enough, I would send them an isle or two over to find a product. That definitely made the grocery trip go quicker. Do yourself a favor if you have littles, every once in a while you do deserve to go to the grocery store alone, but also find some days when you feel up for it and take them with you. Show them the ropes, and before you know it, they’ll actually be helping you at the grocery store.
Step 4, your grocery list and grocery shopping step also has a “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: And that tip is to download a “grocery list” app on your phone. The one that I use is called Shopping List is perfect for me. It lets me keep track of multiple stores, it automatically puts my items in my pre-selected categories, and then deletes them as I go through the store. I’ve had it for years, but I was recently looked up grocery list apps for a client and I found that tons more have cropped up. If you don’t have a grocery list app, do a search on your phone and find one that suits your needs. And if you already have one, virtual high fives for you mama. Keep making that app work for you and for your meal planning needs.
OK my friend, you’ve done the recipe hunt, you know what’s in your pantry, you’ve incorporated the family calendar into your planning, you created a user-friendly grocery list (one that’s easily repeatable) and you’ve shopped for your items for the week getting some much deserved help from your kiddos. You are a rock star mama! What’s the last step in easy gut healthy meal planning? You last step is meal prep.
Step #5: The Meal Prep
And again, you might be sensing a pattern here, but we’re getting the kids involved with meal prep as well. Start your gut healthy for the whole family meal prep from the place of, “How can my kids get involved?” I mentioned Make it Monday. I mentioned my son who takes a cooking class and is in charge of dinner one night of the week. I mentioned getting littles involved in the kitchen, even if it’s just purchasing a kid safe step stool from a company like One Step Ahead to get them used to being with you as you make your meals.
What’s your version of Make it Monday? What have I mentioned today that just sparks some ideas on your part? How can your kids pitch in with the meal prep? Definitely find a way to bring them into the mix. Remember, if you want your kids to eat it, get them in the kitchen making it.
For your part of the meal prep, you’ve got all your ingredients, now we just start putting them together so that the actual making of each meal during the week goes that much quicker. I like to do my grocery list, grocery shopping, and meal prep on Sunday. It doesn’t all have to take place on one day, but certainly having it planned out in advance will save you time and money. And we all want more of that!
Take a look at all your meals for the week. What can you wash, chop, put in containers together for easy weekday cooking? Go for it. I know at first it can seem daunting, but just get started. Even if you have a goal of meal prepping one or two meals a week, that’s a great place to start.
You can meal prep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you choose to. I would definitely start with dinner at a minimum (even just 1 to 2 meals) to help your busy weeknights go smoother, but if you really get into meal prep, you can do it with all your meals. It’s completely up to you.
The one food of the day I see people forgetting to meal prep and the one that can create a downfall when it comes to gut health is your snacks. Don’t forget to prep for your snacks as well. If you’re doing raw fruit and veg, get some cut up and at the ready. If you’re doing all cooked, cook up some veggies and have them in separate containers in the frig ready for when the hangries hit.
During the week, I love meals that include roasted veggies. So on Sunday, my meal prep dedicated day, I’ll roast a couple sheet pans of veggies to have them ready to go during the week. It makes weeknight meals come together so much faster.
Meal prep is also a good time to freeze your bulk food and perishables you won’t use all of during the week. What can you freeze to help it last longer? Veggies, fruit, beans, breads whether they are gluten or grain free. Freezers were a great invention we’re they? The freezer helps your food last longer. Just take it out as you need it.
And Step 5 wouldn’t be an amazing step if it didn’t have a bonus “Do it Like a Mom” tip would it? Step 5 BONUS TIP: Mason jars were made for meal prep. I’m such a fan. I’ve got mason jars in all shapes and sizes. They go in the pantry, the refrigerator, the freezer. And they are clear and easy to label so you’ll always know what’s in them. Stock up on mason jars to make meal prep work for you.
So, there you have it. Crohn’s and colitis meal planning in 5 easy steps. What do you think? It’s doable, you can make it work for you at your own pace (starting with one step and adding on), and it’s definitely going to help you make that gut healing diet work for you. It will help you make gut healing eating a habit and challenge you to stick to what you’ve planned for you and for your family.
You can do this and of course you know I’m here to help. Reach out if I can help you in the meal planning department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Before we part for today, let me recap those five meal planning steps one last time.
Step 1: The Recipe Hunt (get your recipes together in one place so you don’t have to go searching for them or think of them every week)
Step 2: What’s in Your Pantry? (and your frig and on your counter). No more food waste and use what you’ve got to create what you’ll eat for the week.
Step 3: What’s on the Calendar? (for your kids and for you)
Step 4: Grocery List and Shop (this is the perfect place to get the kids involved)
Step 5: Meal Prep (you can meal prep any and all meals you’ll be eating to make the week go that much smoother)
Remember, if you want all of these steps in one place, if you want a handy dandy cheat sheet, grab my meal planning resource: 5 Steps for IBD Meal Planning. It’s a cheat sheet so it lays everything out in a concise, easy to follow format. You can get all this gut love by going to karynhaley.com/mealplan.
Happy meal planning and meal prepping my friend. Trust me, it has the power to be life changing. And if it helps you stay true to your gut healing diet, it’s worth the initial effort to get these steps and organization in place. Because when you have a system, everything falls into place.
Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.