Meal prep is often a very helpful way to save time and energy, and make some tasty food that's easy to use on a busy day. But is low histamine meal prep possible? And how can we go about it?
Before we go on, I'll give you a key tip for meal prep - use your freezer!
This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or dietetic advice in any way. Always consult with a dietician for your dietetic needs. Histamine build-up on food and sensitivity to it is likely individual and working with a qualified dietician for your specific circumstances is best.
- 📖 Why meal prep can be problematic on a low histamine diet
- 💭 How can you meal prep on a low histamine diet?
- ⏲️ What do you need to meal prep?
- 📋 Meal prep ideas and recipes
- 🥣 Soups
- 🥘 Stews
- 🐓 Chicken and turkey
- 🥕 Vegetables
- 🥭 Fruit
- 🌿 Pesto
- 🥥 Coconut milk
- 📋 Foods not suitable for freezing
- 📖 More low histamine resources
📖 Why meal prep can be problematic on a low histamine diet
As a dietician said to me many years ago, when it comes to a low histamine diet, fresh is always best. We want to use fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and other produce. It is the case, as the Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance describes, that 'freshness is often a decisive factor that determines whether a food is tolerated or not'.
Using fresh ingredients is a key aspect of this diet then, but so is the duration of their storage. As the SIGHI explain, 'the longer food is stored, the more time microorganisms have to form histamine'.
Histamine formation means that preparing a meal with fresh ingredients, but keeping it out on the kitchen counter or in the fridge for long periods of time is problematic. The level of histamine will increase on your food.
Therefore, meal prep in the sense of making meals for the week ahead and keeping in portions in the fridge is likely problematic for those with histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS).
Note: as the SIGHI describe, 'histamine is heat stable. It cannot be destroyed by either cooking or freezing'. Therefore, heating or freezing food that has already formed histamine by being left out will not destroy it.
💭 How can you meal prep on a low histamine diet?
It is possible, to an extent, to meal prep on a low histamine diet by freezing food. In their advice on food storage, the SIGHI describe:
Good cooling at 0 to 5 °C slows down the growth of microorganisms. Freezing at -18°C slows down these processes even more, but cannot stop them completely. For this reason, frozen foods should not be stored for an unnecessarily long time.Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance
Freezing food then, appears to be a possible way to meal prep, as long as food isn't in the freezer for too long. On this point, I want to flag up that the SIGHI note that 'too much histamine can also build up in frozen fish within a few weeks'.
And it's important to read their guide on freshness, shopping tips, food storage and leftovers for full information. Freezer times given below are guides for the general population, and may be too long for those with histamine intolerance or MCAS.
Tolerance to histamine formation, even on frozen foods, will be individual. It's always best to work with a dietician to assess your personal circumstances and sensititivites.
⏲️ What do you need to meal prep?
If you are cooking a big batch of soup or stew, you simply need freezer-safe bags or containers. Once cooled, ladle your food into the containers and freeze in portions.
📋 Meal prep ideas and recipes
Now meal prep is often used to save time, money and energy. And if you have a chronic illness, then all three are important! On days when you have a bit more energy, then you may want to prepare or cook extra ingredients or meals for a day when fatigue is high.
Some foods and recipes I meal prep often:
Now anyone on my Low Histamine Kitchen Instagram will know that making soup and my quinoa vegetable soup in particular, is my go-to easy lunch! I make it in big batches and freeze into portions.
The exception to freezing soups is those that contain cheese or other dairy such as cream. They don't freeze well. The same is true of soup with pasta in it, it just doesn't do well unfortunately.
Instead, I stick to vegetable soups including my root vegetable soup, celery leek soup and parsnip ginger soup. All healthy and tasty options for an easy lunch!
Making a batch of stew is always nice on a weekend, and you can freeze the stew itself (not combined with the rice, if that's how you are serving) into portions for a weeknight meal. My turkey stew without tomatoes is one idea to try!
🐓 Chicken and turkey
If you've bought one too many packets of chicken or turkey, they can easily be frozen as they are (still in sealed packets) in the freezer.
To freeze cooked chicken, Taste of Home recommends to place the chicken in an airtight container immediately and, once cooled, placing in the freezer. They suggest that cooked chicken can be frozen for up to four months.
Recipes such as my air fryer chicken thighs, rosemary chicken fillets and Italian herb chicken will all freeze well.
As Taste of Home mention, you cannot freeze all cooked chicken. For example, a chicken salad cannot be frozen due to the mayo, which would separate.
This post on freezing cooked chicken has more information on safely reheating and cooking frozen chicken. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives timings for safe duration of freezing different preparations of chicken.
Tip: mark the date that you placed the chicken in the freezer on your container. As above, SIGHI recommend that frozen food is not stored for an unnecessarily long time, so the above times may need to be shortened.
Let's face it, some vegetables are a little tiresome to prepare . . . I'm thinking of butternut squash for example, that's a bit of an effort to peel and dice. And it's often too much for one meal.
BBC Good Food recommends blanching vegetables, then open freezing them on a non-stick baking sheet until solid. The vegetables can then be placed in a freezer bag and frozen. Have a read of their article on freezing vegetables for more information, and types of vegetables that cannot be frozen.
Fruit can also be frozen in the same manner as vegetables, as described above. I find this particularly helpful during blackberry season when we pick far too many to eat at once!
Need an easy meal? Pesto pasta is always a winner in my home! Homemade pesto can easily be made in larger batches and frozen into portions in small tupperware containers (freeze the pesto only, not cooked with the pasta).
Perhaps you would like to try my pumpkin seed pesto or my macadamia nut pesto for a quick dinner as pesto pasta, or as a spread or dip!
🥥 Coconut milk
Many recipes call for half a cup of coconut milk, including my own broccoli and zucchini soup and vegetarian gnocchi soup.
If you've opened a can of coconut milk to make a recipe, you can simply transfer any remaining into a freezer-safe container and freeze for next time. Freeze It recommends only freezing coconut milk for two to three months.
📋 Foods not suitable for freezing
Certain foods are not suitable for freezing, including vegetables with a higher water content such as cucumber and leafy greens.
See the BBC Good Food page on tips freezing for food, for those foods not suitable for freezing. Please note that their list is not specific to a low histamine diet.
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📖 More low histamine resources
Have a peek at my low histamine recipes collection - over 300 tasty meals and snacks to choose from!
To start the day, you may like to see my easy breakfast ideas post with so many healthy options, including smoothies, chia pudding, hot options, granola and more.
And for lunch and dinner, there so many delicious options in my low histamine chicken recipes round-up and cheese recipes post, as well as ideas for salad dressings, fun snacks, and cozy tea and coffee alternatives too!
Don't forget to pin the post!
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