Going gluten-free grocery shopping for the first time (and sometimes the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) can be overwhelming. Hope these tips help to get you started, or decrease your frustration at the grocery store.
1. Make a plan. Pretty standard advice that crosses the barrier of applying only to grocery shopping. Usually, putting a little thought into your trip first will save you a lot of time in the end. To this day, my husband doesn’t understand my pre-grocery trip preparation. I try to decide on 3 or 4 dinner meals for the week knowing that one night will lead to left-overs and one night we will likely play outside too late and end up with a quick-fix chicken nugget type meal. I make my list and clip coupons based around these meals and then add our “standard” items for breakfasts and lunches.
2. Don’t forget about naturally gluten-free foods. Not everything you buy will, or needs to, be labeled gluten free. This is where the often heard tip “shop the perimeter of the store” comes in. Think fresh veggies, fruits, meats and dairy products.
3. Try to remember, not just “what can I eat?” but “what is good for me to eat?” I will admit this thought process evolved over time for me. I was so concerned with feeding my daughter gluten-free foods that I was not that concerned about healthy foods! There were lots of gluten-free chicken nuggets, frozen mac and cheese, and hot dogs in the beginning.
4. Be adventurous. Shop different stores. Ok, so for most maybe going to the grocery store isn’t an adventure. However, if you are shopping gluten-free, especially in the beginning, it can be! I have two grocery stores pretty close to my house, both the same chain, but they carry different products. I am not a proponent of doing all your grocery shopping at the specialty health food stores. For me, the more expensive prices just aren’t worth it except for specialty items. Don’t be afraid to ask the manager at your favorite store to start carrying specific products that you like. With the growing population of gluten-free eaters chances are if you want the product, likely others will too.
5. Use your store’s resources. Many chain grocery stores have gluten-free product lists like this one from Meijer. This list is maintained by a registered dietitian, one of Meijer’s Healthy Living Advisors. Some stores are willing to give gluten-free tours and most have improved their gluten-free labeling on the shelves to help you quickly identify gluten-free products.
What are your best tips to save time, energy, and money, or improve the way you feed yourself and your family?
Sidenote: I am not compensated for any links in this post. This is just one example of a chain I am aware of looking out for us in the gluten-free community.