Grandma’s No Stress Plan for Hosting Thanksgiving with Food Allergies
Guest post by Karen Dalfonso
What could be more gratifying than hosting holiday parties and get-togethers? I think the ultimate sense of accomplishment is in satisfying the needs of all your guests, whether it’s food allergies or any other dietetic needs!
If you are planning a holiday get-together and feeling a great deal of stress right now, imagine your next attempt as “no big deal!” If we take the emotional baggage out of planning the holidays, we can make everything easier on ourselves and make those wonderful holiday memories for our loved ones.
In early October, I opened my “holiday planning” folder and was surprised to find all my allergy safe holiday recipes and menus from previous years. Can you imagine my excitement when I found each menu item from last year posted on a 4x6 index card connected on a ring? The menu item was followed by ingredients needed with the recipe on the reverse side. I remember taking the ringed cards to the grocery store as I purchased and checked off items from the cards. Imagine the added excitement of finding an envelope with all my grocery receipts including the items and dates purchased!
This is especially helpful as you know which items to buy ahead and which items are perishable and are purchased as “last minute” items. Remember which items to stock up on as some “hard to find” items can become depleted at the market. For example, last year, we searched multiple stores for a brand of bread to use as stuffing and a certain brand of dinner roll for one of our gatherings. Wow, what excitement as I began to think of the new items we could add this year, such as non-dairy coco whip or safe chocolate candies for decorating cookies.
I will continue to check labels, and keep these labels handy for reference on the day of the holiday meal. We will serve allergy-friendly menu items that all our guests can enjoy. It has taken several holidays to all of us to truly believe this is how WE want to spend the holidays, as we have gradually let go of some old traditions, only to begin new ones. I also know that with confidence I can tell guests “there is nothing to bring as we want to be sure everything on the menu is allergy-friendly”.
Several items will be prepared ahead of time to ensure that the extra time and care in preparation will keep the menu items safe from my grandson’s allergens - milk, egg, nut, sesame and salmon. Errors happen when we are in a rush so there are no shortcuts. I will utilize new food storage containers, lots of paper items, and keep utensils/cutting boards thoroughly washed while cooking/baking. A section of my refrigerator and freezer will be set up to store allergy-friendly items. In addition, I will utilize a storage bin to store staples for snacks, appetizers, and other menu items.
Also, at dinner, my grandson with allergies will be served first, and then a second plate prepared and refrigerated as his “leftover” plate. This is why I always purchase new storage containers every holiday to use and denote allergy safe food items.
There are many resources available on how to make a kitchen allergy safe, but it is a challenge when these standards are not kept 100% of the time. It is possible we will be trying no new menu items or recipe items this year, but I feel secure that with the planning from last year’s menu, this year’s celebration will be much more efficient, pleasant and less stressful.
I hope you consider taking some of these extra steps and journal your preparations to use for your next no-stress holiday get-together. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Karen is a retired grandmother of two, and her grandson has multiple severe food allergies to milk, eggs, nuts, sesame and salmon. She has been keeping her family well-fed and safe with her delicious cooking and well-planned allergy-friendly holiday parties for 7 years now. Karen has also written two other holiday hosting posts on her daughter’s blog, www.Mamacado.com. Read more about Karen’s allergy-friendly holiday tips here:
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