Guest post by Sonja from Frugal Gluten Free Living
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful and costly. Add guests with food allergies, and you could find yourself over-stressed and over-budget. But if you stick to a plan, follow these tips and stay true to your budget, Thanksgiving dinner can be memorable, fun and frugal.
1. Have Your Allergic Guests Bring Their Favorite Dish
People with food allergies will be relieved if you ask them to bring a dish. Most will either pack snacks or eat meals before a dinner away, just in case they are unable to eat what’s being offered.
It’s difficult to be a gracious guest when food limitations are so severe. Having a stand-by dish they can trust because they made it will ease your guests’ minds.
2. Do Research
Ask what allergies your guests have. Be specific. If they’re gracious, they’ll probably tell you to not make a fuss, and just go about your meal planning. But you may want to tweak a dish just for them.
For example, if they suffer from a gluten allergy, you can cook the stuffing out of the turkey, so as to prevent cross contamination. Or you can use cornstarch to thicken the gravy rather than traditional flour.
Some changes are so small, but your guests will be touched that you made the effort. I know I’m always overwhelmed with the hospitality my in-laws have shown my family when we’ve stayed with them and they had gluten-free cereals and noodles for my toddlers. I never expect it but it absolutely moves me to tears to think of their thoughtfulness. (By the way, some gluten-free dishes are so inexpensive and easy, you may find you like them, too.)
3. Don’t Be Offended
If your allergic guests stay away from your grandmother’s famous broccoli cheese casserole (drool!), please don’t be offended. They are probably more upset about it than you are.
4. Keep Ingredient Labels on Hand
People with food allergies obsessively read the labels. A little MSG in a salad dressing will make my husband sick for the rest of the evening.
Your allergic guests may never ask to see the ingredient list to a casserole (I wonder about the etiquette rules for that), but you can casually comment that you have the ingredient list for that casserole if she’d like to look it over to see if she can have it.
5. Don’t Stress
Chances are, your guests are more anxious than you are. With my family’s food allergies, I plan at least a week in advance before we go to a function. I try to balance bringing snacks, versus feeding people ahead of time, so our food allergy doesn’t become center stage at an event.
It’s humbling to have such a restrictive diet (we can’t have eggs, dairy, gluten, or most meats) but we’ve learned that family gathering around food is more about family and less about food.
Sonja Stewart writes about ways to stay within the grocery budget while on a gluten-free diet. Her blog, Frugal Gluten Free Living shares recipes and shopping tips for those living with food allergies. She lives in Astoria, OR with her husband and homeschools her two young children.
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