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Meal Planning: Buy local, cook fresh and eat seasonal

Meal planning for family or friends living with allergies can be tricky enough, so trying to also adopt a more sustainable approach could make it feel more daunting. But it needn’t be. Here are some tips and inspiration to help you plan a tasty, sustainable, free-from meal.

Buying fresh, local and seasonal

Read our Buy Local, Cook Fresh and Eat Seasonal news article, to find tips on how to shop and eat more sustainably.

Free-from seasonal recipes

Oli Weatherall dedicates his free time to developing delicious vegan, free from recipes. He took on the challenge to design two seasonal and nutritious meals for us and created these tasty dishes:

Share your seasonal free-from creations with us on Facebook and Instagram #LocalFreshSeasonal, and follow Oli for more free-from food inspiration @FreeFromFourteenVegan.

#easytoASK tips for cooking an allergy-friendly meal

We’ve been working with The Food Standards Agency on their #easytoASK campaign and here are their 10 top tips for cooking an allergy friendly meal:

  1. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking friends what they can / cannot eat. People will allergies and intolerances are usually quite clued up on what is safe and will be pleased you asked.
  2. Allergies cannot be ‘cooked out’, no matter how hard you try.
  3. Check ingredients labels for hidden allergens, like tahini (sesame paste) in hummus, nuts in cooking oil and milk in gravy mixes.
  4. Prevent cross contamination. Clean work surfaces and equipment thoroughly to remove traces of anything you might have previously cooked.
  5. Avoid decorations, sauces, toppings and dressings that might introduce new allergens into a safe dish – like adding chopped nuts or an egg glaze over pastry.
  6. The ingredients lists on prepacked foods clearly label allergens so make sure you check them.
  7. If one of your friends is allergic to something, then simply taking off their plate isn’t enough. A tiny trace can be enough to cause an allergic reaction.
  8. Keep your meals simple. A meal that can be enjoyed by everyone will make sure your allergic friends won’t feel like an ‘outsider’ at the table.
  9. There are often good substitutes for allergens in most food shops. Ask friends for suggestions of what to buy and where to find it.
  10. Enjoy the creative challenge. Rather than seeing a friend’s allergy as a limitation, view it as an opportunity to try something new.

And remember: there is no cure for food allergies – the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill.

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