We made it a whole week on the "everything-free" diet! (Not literally everything; in case you missed it earlier, our whole family is off egg for three weeks and gluten, dairy, soy, citrus, almonds, peanuts, and a couple of other legumes for six weeks.)
And we ate well. Well as in "food that tasted good," but also as in "food that was good for us." When you have to cut all of those things out, it's pretty hard to find junk food, or really much pre-made food at all. I definitely spent a lot more time in the kitchen this past week because I had to make almost everything from scratch. Soy, gluten, and whey and other milk derivatives like to hide in many, many things. I did find, on Friday, a company that makes bread free from everything we can't have (Little Northern Bakehouse, I think it was called?) It was weird to buy sliced bread for the first time in years, but very nice to have bread with our burgers Saturday evening.
A few takeaways from the first week:
Sticking to a menu plan really is possible. When I suddenly could not use pasta, sandwiches, etc as fallbacks, supper actually happened as written on the menu plan every day. There were a couple of minor deviations (lamburgers instead of moose burgers, taco salads when I forgot to buy corn flour for making tortillas), but we pretty much stuck to the plan and there were no last-minute "oops, I wonder what I'm doing about supper" evenings.
Prepping breakfast the night before makes a big difference. Blueberry baked oatmeal, chia pudding, oatmeal apple breakfast bars (which turned out to require forks, but were still a big hit), cinnamon roll baked oatmeal... If I made something good and filling the night before, it helped everyone get off to a good start. Also, apparently we ate a lot of oatmeal last week, but having special baked oatmeal variations was much more popular than multiple days of "look, a bowl of oatmeal" would have been. There's a cranberry vanilla rice pudding in the fridge for tomorrow, but I think we'll be back to oats the next morning.
Note: unless I did something wrong, which is certainly possible, chia pudding does not set up in coconut milk the way it does in almond milk or cow milk.
It's easier to give things up entirely than to find substitutes that make you very aware of what you are missing. That bread was pretty good, but since bringing it home on Friday, suddenly people are talking sadly about other wheat products like cereal and pasta.
Lunches were the hardest meals for me, and I don't entirely have a solution yet. It was okay as long as I made enough supper for there to be plenty of leftovers, though there were a couple of days when the kids weren't interested in having the same thing again. Sandwiches are out, and our normal non-bread quick lunch, hummus, kind of needs the lemon juice so I can't just make a batch without it. Ideas?
Using fruits and vegetables as the main snacks worked pretty well, but at the rate we're going through them they are expensive! I need to find more ways to stretch them. There is something very gratifying, though, about telling the kids that they can have more broccoli for dessert and getting an enthusiastic "okay!" in response.
What we ate this past week (suppers):
Sunday - grilled chicken, green salad, white rice
Monday - pork chops with spiced nectarines, roasted cauliflower, green salad
Tuesday - garlic chicken, brown rice
Wednesday - chicken taco salads
Thursday - grilled rosemary-dijon moose steak, garlic masked potatoes, grilled zucchini
Friday - honey-balsamic salmon, leftover mashed potatoes & zucchini
Saturday - BLT lamburgers on "everything-free" bread, grilled sweet onions, sweet potato fries
Week two, here we come! I know that the next two days' suppers will be a chicken-rice casserole and something made from ground moose, but that's as far as I've gotten on the new menu. Time for me to get to work!