What I have learned to be most difficult for our family becoming gluten-free and swearing off wheat products forever is that the number of options available to us have narrowed substantially; especially since we live in an area that I would say is not as “forward-thinking” when it comes to food as other areas of the country.
Even though the local grocery store is just 10 minutes away and DOES offer gluten-free products (a whole half an aisle dedicated to us--- whoo-hoo! Sarcasm implied.), it is difficult to find many of the products that I need or enjoy, all in one place. And, don’t even get me started on the prices. Yikes! It’s not unusual to spend $1.50 or more on a granola bar. With three growing kids --- who appear to have hollow legs--- you can see how this would add up extremely quickly.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned about shopping gluten-free on the fringe:
Don’t discount finding gluten free products, especially staples, in odd places like discount or overstock retailers. I’ve been lucky enough to find the gluten-free flour ingredients I use for my homemade blend at a local market that specializes in “deep discounts.” A quick glance at the expiration dates (good to go!) and in to the cart they went, at about two-thirds the cost of the grocery store.
Two of the largest retailers are also getting in to the “gluten-free game” even if their selections are limited. Both Walmart and Target offer a selection of gluten-free goods. I’ve even noticed that due to their buying power, many of the products they offer are less expensive than the grocer’s prices.
I make a pit-stop at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and other retailers known for their gluten-free as well as organic, non-GMO, and natural selections whenever I can. If I’m heading out that direction (about 40 minutes away) I make sure to make at least a mental list of items I need to pick up. Another benefit of the stop is that these stores typically are more generous in offering a wide selection of products than my local grocer. That means we get to try some new products or brands.
- If you’re not in a rush, or don’t need your groceries “like, now”, online opportunities are expanding, as well. If you are stocking the pantry, nothing beats the ability to find everything you need on Amazon.com or a similar website. A pitfall is that you often have to buy in bulk to receive good prices, or to make shipping charges irrelevant. This makes it difficult to use Amazon for “sampling” products or trying something new. There are also other dedicated gluten-free product retailers. Online retailers such as celiac.com/glutenfreemall offer a good selection of products ranging from baked goods to pastas to convenience foods and pantry staples; all of which are gluten-free, so there is no guesswork involved.
Most of all, I have learned that curbing the way we eat by putting more emphasis on eating whole, unprocessed foods as much as we can, as well as baking homemade cookies, crackers, and breads not only winds up savings us money, but allows us complete control of what we are ingesting.
Author: Tracy Grabowski is a gluten-free mom and marketing consultant, as well as the creative behind the blog, whEAT Freely.