Now that you have an idea of what foods you can eat on your new gluten free diet, let’s talk about heading to the grocery store for the first time. This trip is most likely going to be a bit frustrating and will probably take a good bit longer than your average grocery shopping trip.
Planning For The Trip
There are a few things you’ll want to do before you head to the store. First off, plan to spend about twice as long on this trip as you usually spend in the store. Things will get faster as you get used to what foods you can and cannot eat, but the first couple of trips will involve a good bit of trial and error. So give yourself plenty of time to do things thoroughly so that you’re not rushed.
Second, if at all possible, leave your children at home. Having children along can make any shopping trip more stressful and doubly so on this one. Additionally, your children may not understand why they can’t get their favorite snacks anymore, and having to explain the situation to them in the store would be difficult.
Thirdly, plan a general menu before you go. It’ll be easier to get your shopping done if you have a general idea of what you want to get before you go. For instance, if spaghetti is on your menu, you’ll know before you get to the store that you need to find some gluten free pasta. If sandwiches are on the menu, you know you’ll need to find some gluten free bread.
Lastly, keep things simple. If you don’t have much experience cooking, then don’t plan to cook big, fancy meals. If you need to cook up a loaf of gluten free bread and feed your family sandwiches every night for the next week, that’s fine. Don’t try to do more than you know you can do.
One thing I should mention that can make planning for your trip and buying groceries easier is Triumph Dining’s Gluten Free Grocery Guide. It lists over 30,000 name brand and store-brand gluten free products from all over the country. If you want some help with your grocery shopping, definitely check out the guide. It can make things much easier.
At The Store
Once you’re at the store, try to stick to your list as much as possible. This will keep headaches to a minimum. Also, don’t be shy about asking a stock boy or another worker for help finding things. Simply explain you just found out you have a food allergy, and that you need some help finding some foods that you can eat. With more and more people hearing about celiac and gluten, it’s possible they may even know about gluten free food. With any luck, they’ll be able to make some suggestions and show you what they have available.
Lastly, the most important thing to do is to read labels. I have found gluten in items that I never would have thought would contain it, including ice cream, candy, salad dressings and more. If an item is not clearly marked “Gluten Free” don’t take the chance. Just read the label to make sure.
Good luck on your first GF shopping trip! Remember, things will get easier and quicker. In my next article, I’ll talk about some tips for gluten free cooking.