Written by Alyssa Lavy, MS, RD, CDN
The list of foods to avoid during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet can seem daunting at first. After perusing the list, the inevitable questions such as, “Am I going to have to cook all of my meals from scratch” and “How am I going to fit this plan into my busy schedule” are to be expected. And, while you definitely can enjoy dining out while on the low FODMAP diet, the focus of this post is to share time-saving kitchen hacks so that when you decide to cook, you don’t need to spend all day in the kitchen! Below are some of my favorite time-saving kitchen hacks that I share with clients and I’m so excited to share them with you!
Take Time To Plan
This one seems basic, but meal planning is a step that is often overlooked and without a plan, food prep is likely to take longer and seem more stressful. I recommend creating a rough outline for the week. In this outline, plan the nights when you will cook, the nights when you will rely on leftovers and the nights when you may dine out. Then, schedule any other commitments, such as work, family and personal plans. Next, consider when you have time to shop for groceries and make sure that you have any online orders scheduled for when you need the food. Taking 5-10 minutes to plan the upcoming week can save you a ton of wasted time (and stress) in the future. I provide my clients with my Weekly Meal Planning Guide, but you can make a similar resource by listing each day on a sheet of paper and leaving a space for your grocery list.
Purchase Garlic-Infused Oil
If you’re following the low FODMAP diet, you are probably aware of the fact that garlic is high FODMAP. However, many people do not realize that garlic-infused oil is low FODMAP because FODMAPs are not fat soluble, meaning the fructans present in garlic will not be present in the garlic-infused oil (same goes for onions). This means that you can enjoy the flavor of garlic without the FODMAPs! Instead of sautéing the garlic in the oil yourself, save yourself some time and purchase garlic infused oil. This is perfect for cooking, but can also be used to make an easy snack or side dish (like mozzarella caprese with a garlic-infused oil drizzle).
Download the Monash App
I encourage all of my clients following the low FODMAP diet to download the Monash app on their phones. This resource has a food guide, which allows you to search any food within the Monash database and determine whether it is high FODMAP or low FODMAP using a traffic light system. It’s extremely helpful for determining proper portion sizes of foods while in the elimination phase, especially for those items that can become moderate or high FODMAP in larger portions. Additionally, you can use this resource to substitute different foods if you are modifying a recipe. Just a quick search in their database, which is sorted by different food groups, allows you to determine which foods are suitable (and which are not), so you can spend less time wondering and stressing and more time enjoying your food!
Take Advantage of Low FODMAP Convenience Options
Choosing foods, condiments and spice blends from a low FODMAP company can help to take the guesswork out of planning and prepping. For example, MChef offers low FODMAP seasoning blends, which can be purchased on the FodShop site. These are perfect for adding flavor to dishes without garlic, onion and other high FODMAP ingredients. I also love the company Fody Foods, which offers low FODMAP products ranging from seasoning blends and dressings to sauces and bars and so many other options!
I usually encourage clients to choose some of their favorite staples (for example, if they want a salad dressing, a few seasoning blends, the broth concentrate, the tomato sauce) in order to have easy, convenient options to make meals quickly during the week. This is such a time-saver because it means that you don’t need to make entire meals from scratch. One of my favorite ways to save time is by using their broth concentrate, since many broths contain onion or garlic. Rather than making a homemade broth (which can take a long time), the concentrate can be added to boiling water and it is ready to consume – or use it to flavor other dishes, such as quinoa. If you are unable to access Fody Foods in your area, I recommend taking some time at the grocery store and scanning ingredient lists so you can find convenient products that work for you.
Consider Simple Flavorings
When it comes to the low FODMAP diet, simple is often easier – but that doesn’t necessarily mean bland or plain! Some of my favorite low FODMAP flavorings are the simple flavors, such as using olive oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or herbs – like oregano, basil, dill and rosemary. These flavorings do not require complex sauces and add a punch of flavor to any dish!
Meal prep is very popular, but if you are concerned that it doesn’t work for you, have you ever considered partial prep? Partial prep is exactly what is sounds like – you may not fully prep each meal and place it in organized containers in the fridge, but you can make meal components (or a meal component) to make your life easier during a busy week.
For example, if you take the time to prep a large salad base and bake some chicken when you are home, you can store it in the fridge and use these prepped items as convenience options during the week. This means that come Monday evening, you can simply add an easy side dish, heat your chicken and add dressing to your salad and your meal is complete! Additionally, you can repurpose leftovers so you don’t get bored. For example, you can eat the baked chicken over salad, as part of a low FODMAP quesadilla, and sauté it as part of a low FODMAP stir-fry, creating 3 simple meals from one prepped protein.
Some nights are busier than others and sometimes we don’t want to take the time to cook – and that is okay! You can save time by ordering food from meal delivery services. One of my favorite meal delivery companies is Epicured. Epicured offers low FODMAP, ready-to-eat options that are made by Michelin chefs (so you know it tastes delicious).
Since the company is low FODMAP, you do not need to worry about whether an item contains high FODMAP ingredients! Their food is made fresh and is shipped out in insulated packaging. While they do not currently deliver outside the US or within some regions of the US, their delivery area is quickly expanding.
If you’re interested in trying Epicured, you can use my affiliate code ALYSSALAVYRD on the FodShop site. You can also use this affiliate code for other FodShop purchases. Other meal delivery companies likely offer options that are suitable – I just recommend reading labels carefully so you can check for sneaky, high FODMAP ingredients.
Consider Working with a FODMAP-Knowledgeable Dietitian
As I mentioned, I provide my clients with many resources, recipes and recommendations in order to take the stress out of eating and prepping food. Working with a dietitian (or other healthcare provider) who is knowledgeable regarding the low FODMAP diet can save time on all fronts – in the grocery store, in the kitchen and in your internet searches! This way, you can spend less time sorting out the details and more time enjoying life (and food)! Fodshopper offers a database of FODMAP-knowledgeable practitioners, so you can find someone in your area.
Alyssa Lavy, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and personal trainer with a private practice in Connecticut. The focus of her practice is digestive health and sports nutrition and she offers easy, practical solutions for busy individuals in order to repair gut health and food relationships and fuel an active lifestyle. She believes food should be satisfying, nutritious and delicious! She offers many recipes suitable for a low FODMAP diet on her blog, which can be found on alyssalavy.com/blog.
*Note: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I will make a small commission if a purchase is made using the provided discount code. I never promote a product unless I truly love it and all opinions and words are my own.