HELPFUL TIPS FOR TAILORED MEAL PLANNING

If you think about it we all enjoy eating the “the comfort food”. Who doesn’t like the idea of sitting down, perhaps with some warm apple pie loaded with vanilla ice cream and a cup of hot cider get you all warm and fuzzy? It does to me. Even our ancestors loved to gather for meals. It is what keeps our society together. Food. But dinnertime can be tiring as well. Maybe you feel like you are cooking for 6 instead of 4.  You would rather just cook one version of spaghetti, instead of two? Tailoring your meal planning may help. Read on friends. 🙂

It is a common occurrence, many kids with Autism don’t like certain foods, tastes, and textures. It’s a big, big deal. My son was diagnosed over nine years ago. Little did I know, I was doing more harm than good with my son, when he was six I would feed him 2-3 helpings of Spaghetti at the table just so he wouldn’t have a meltdown! What? Uh, not a great idea. What WAS I thinking? Pushing ahead nine years and many lessons learned, I decided to change his eating habits… slowly.  It didn’t happen overnight, but it has changed his behavior and weight for the better.  It has been a challenge for years to have my son try new foods. Getting him to be flexible is the key.

So why I am telling you this? I have learned a thing or two about food preferences, diets, palates and meal planning. I’d like to share it with you!  This Here Blog is “My Happy Kitchen.” (Insert silly Western Music Here).

This post is for ALL families whether they are atypical or typical. We could all use some helpful tailored meal planning.

1. FLEXIBLE WITH THE FOOD

Many issues with food can be sensory. I believe that everyone one of us has a food quirk. For me it is peaches. Too much peach fuzz thank you. I take a bite of a peach and my arm hair stands up. Talk about goosebumps!  Just thinking about it, makes me shudder. My 20-year-old son prefers raw vegetables. But really he prefers no vegetables. Ha! If your youngest kid won’t eat string cheese and I mean the stretchy-stringy-hot-out-of the-oven-cheese(mine will not touch the stuff). If that’s the case, try having them explore beyond their “Zone.” I will admit, it’s not easy. Maybe offer an alternative, like cottage cheese (“White Cheese” as my son calls it, Autism=literal thinker).   At least they will be getting the protein they need. Not a fan of the cottage cheese? Keep on trying new foods. Take your kid out of their comfort zone and just give them a little push. If they have a meltdown, try something else. This applies to bigger kids as well. My Hubby? He doesn’t like chocolate “flavored” things, only real chocolate.  I began Tailored Spoon so I can share with you adaptable recipes to food.  Ever thought about hiding the Broccoli or spinach in the spaghetti sauce?  I know it has been done before.  I am also aware that many of us have dietary restrictions, sensory disorders, and food allergies.  Try one food at a time, if that’s what it takes. Take baby steps, add something else to the table one meal and see how it goes. It doesn’t hurt to experiment.  As Parents we are all Scientists, heck we wouldn’t get anywhere if we didn’t try things! Let’s call it flexible food and try something new.

2. BECOME A LABEL READER

Be conscious of the food you eat. I am such a label reader and I won’t buy it if the food label has 50+ ingredients. Obviously, when kids have too much sugar the behavior skyrockets.  My youngest son has self-stimulatory behaviors, can’t focus and his attention span is two seconds. So sugar is an issue for him.  Say your child likes yogurt, and they want only those name brand ones for kids that are filled with sugar.  You know the ones, with all the added sugar, on top of the sugar already existent. How about the yogurt tubes, make your own tube yogurts? I believe that really yummy food does not have to come in a box that stares at you from the shelf in from the grocery store saying buy me I am lonely. I feel a story coming on.  Well, maybe just an interesting fact: Take sugary cereal boxes, for example, there is a reason why grocery stores stock those cereals in the middle of the shelf.  It makes it hard for adults to see, but it is the perfect height for kids and it makes you want to buy it. Frightful if you ask me. I know label reading can become such a daunting task in the store and you will probably drive your kids crazy.  BUT if you do it often enough.  After a few times, it will become easier and you’ll be outta there in no time!   This is a very good image from Cornell University regarding their very interesting article on Cereal Box Psychology.  I would avoid the cereal aisle if you can.

Downright Creepy. The boxes are stalking the children.

3. JUST THINK OUT OF THE BOX AND MAKE A LIST!

Just a quick example: This would be perfect for weekday lunchboxes. Measure yogurt in a 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sized Glad Containers. I would even get the kids to help!

Ziploc Containers
  • Plain Greek yogurt or any type of plain yogurt. The sugar content will be different for each brand.
  • Stevia, honey, or another sweetener. Maple Syrup. Also if you use plain yogurt. Most likely you will not need to add in an additional sweetener if you choose to use add-ins.
  • Add-Ins: A fresh fruit or favorite jelly or preserve, granola, chocolate, ever tried cake sprinkles? The possibilities are endless!

Note: the add-ins are your preference and they are not necessarily brimming of sugar. If you do your research on each of these there are better alternatives.

Put about ¼ of a cup of yogurt in a small plastic cup, add ¼ teaspoon of Stevia or omit altogether, then add some blueberries, cut up strawberries, or raspberries.  Experiment with different sweeteners, try a bit of honey or even maple syrup! That is what I use.

Eating right does not need to be expensive and do your research.

Some Good Tailored Tips:

  1. Buying a large container of Plain Greek yogurt is a better deal than buying 4 packs of those “fun” yogurts. You’ll be saving money as well. Dairy-free yogurt works too. I never attempted to make my own yogurt.  But this is the age of the internet. I guarantee there is a recipe out there. 
  2. If the fresh fruit in your area is a little more expensive, then it’s generally not “In Season.” Try your mixing in your favorite jelly or jam instead. Yum! 
  3. Be adventurous and make your own!  Reason number 529 on why I began The Tailored Spoon Blog. 

My opinions are strictly my own and this is what has worked for me.  I am no way asking you to follow what I did.  Everyone has a right to their own opinions and solutions! Many of us have dietary restrictions and what works for one person might not work for another.

The recipes on my blog will not be restrictive but will be consistently adjustable and versatile in a way that it fits your family! In a nutshell, I believe that if you want a better lifestyle to eat a more nutritionally balanced meal with families that require adaptable recipes. It will take time, patience and experiment from the cook in the Kitchen. The idea is to cook with real food and tailor it your family. Just remember any recipe can be adaptable, adjustable and versatile! No worries!

Don’t have the time to experiment? Keep your eyes peeled for good recipes in my kitchen and yours!

helpful tips pin

Don’t Forget to Pin It!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to connect with me on PinterestTwitter, hashtag #tailoredspoon on Instagram and Facebook. If you have questions, please ask me and I will try to answer them as best I can. Thanks so much for gathering here at the Tailored Spoon! I love sharing the recipes that I cook with you!

If you have found some solutions or food ideas, please comment!  I love reading them and responding when I can. Thanks so much!