Meal Planning with PKU


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Hello everyone, my name is Lisa I’m 40 years old and I live in Dublin. I was diagnosed with PKU at 13 days old and I have one child who doesn’t have PKU. I am writing this blog to show people living with PKU that forward planning, I find, is the key factor to staying on a good PKU diet.


I’m a working mum. I work 9-hour days and at the end of a day the last thing I want to do is come home and start cooking from scratch to make something to eat. I know if I didn’t do some forward planning and preparation I would look for a quick fix which would end up in me consuming a lot of protein exchanges. I decided to start planning my meals from breakfast through to dinner time, so I invested in a white board, so that I could have meals, treats and exchanges worked out day to day.


There are 3 reasons why I started to do batch cooking. The first reason is that it saves a lot of time when I have food ready to be cooked. The second reason is that I would have the right portion size ready as I found I was eating far too much. My portion size would be 3 times the size of what it should be, which was why I had a problem controlling my weight. I found with batch cooking and meal planning I lost nearly 2 stone over a year. Weight loss was hard but when you see and feel better in yourself it is all worth it. The third reason I started batch cooking and meal planning was that I found I was going for a quick fix meal which wouldn’t contain any fruit or vegetables and would typically be higher in protein, for example chips from a chip shop or instant curry noodles. In time this took its toll on me and could be seen in my blood results and the way I felt in myself.

As well as saving my time, I find my meal-planning has helped me in saving money as I can go to different supermarkets where the deals are on and buy my fruit and vegetables in bulk. This means that I am not wasting food and I find that by shopping in this way, I am more open to trying different vegetables that I wouldn’t have tried before.


My favourite things to make now are blueberry muffins, banana muffins, pancakes and waffles. I make a large batch of about 12, then freeze them and then take them out when I need them and microwave them until warm.

Here is an example of 1 week’s meal plan


I live with my husband and my 4-year-old daughter who do not have PKU and although I find batch cooking great for myself, I don’t batch cook for them as I find it easy to cook a separate meal for them each night. As a young child coming from a household of 8, I was the only one with PKU and my family were always aware that we had to eat different meals and different foods, which helps me to do the same with my own family.


As I was struggling with trying to eat nutritious meals and spread my exchanges over the day I got in touch with my dietitian to see if she could help in any way. She very kindly gave me about 10 different meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks which included portion sizes and calories too. She also gave me the Vitaflo’s Live Life Well Healthy PKU Living Pack, which contained more recipe suggestions, with portion sizes,  calorie content and exchange info.

A lot of PKU patients understand how hard it is to lose weight and I find planning and using the information which I have been given is helpful.


  • When you have a spare hour, chop and cut all the vegetables that you will need for the week ahead. You can then store pre-measured portions in air tight containers and sealed bags in the fridge so that they are ready to cook when you need them.
  • Make sure you change your meal plan week-to-week as having a variety of meals stops you from getting bored and keeps you interested.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, you can batch cook cakes and cookies and freeze them as they defrost well.
  • If you are keeping low protein pasta dishes in the fridge for a couple of days, it’s better not to mix the pasta and vegetables until you are ready to eat them as they may go dry.
  • Check the supermarkets in your area for affordability and freshness. I do my shopping in a couple of different supermarkets like Dunnes stores, Tesco and Lidl. I find Tesco and Lidl the best for the fruit and vegetables because they are fresher and seem to last longer.
  • Buy in bulk where you can. Once every couple of months I bulk buy from a company called Hooba (now selling in Alternative Stores online). They sell low protein mince and burgers which are low in exchanges.

I hope this can help people struggling with preparing meals as since I started doing it I am much less hungry and look forward to my meals. Most importantly, another positive thing I found since I started doing this is that my bloods are good. I used to always be in the range of 600-800 and now my levels are between 350 – 500 and the only thing I have changed is the way I eat!

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