This article was originally published on The Mommy Effect in the fall of 2015
As the holidays approach so do parties, dinners, and events for families and friends. They may be at home, the office, or your kid(s) schools, but in any location you could encounter a person with dietary restrictions or food allergies. As someone who has multiple food allergies who has also entertained people with allergies different than my own, I like to think I’m somewhat of an expert on the topic. I’ve compiled a list of my top tips for cooking for people with food allergies. In the case that the person with allergies is a child, simply follow these same rules but consult the parent/guardian instead.
Asking for detailed lists will make you both feel more comfortable
The two main points to keep in mind when cooking for food-allergic friends are communication and transparency. Let them know what you’re planning to make ahead of time and ask them for a detailed list of their allergies for reference. Ask them if they use or avoid any specific brands to help you navigate the grocery store.
Keep packages/ingredients labels
It’s advisable to hold on to the wrapper/package of any packaged/prepared food or anything with an ingredient list for in case your guests want to take a look or you’re feeling uncertain. You may have questions or they may feel more comfortable reading it before taking a bite. If they do ask to read the package know that it’s not personal, it’s just common protocol.
If you’re unsure, just ask
When your daily life doesn’t involve exposure to allergies it is difficult to understand how to handle allergies to the extent of someone who lives with them every day. So if you’re unsure about an ingredient, if cross-contamination occurred, or if any concern comes up, don’t be afraid to seek clarification. This doesn’t just apply to the cooking/preparing portion of entertaining. Don’t be shy to take a snap of a label or ingredients list at the grocery store and text it to your guest for approval.