The Beginner’s Guide to Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping
If you’ve just starting eating gluten-free, you’ll be glad to know that navigating your local grocery store is easier than ever and, with many national chains manufacturing their own food products, prices are better than you imagine. So what’s the key to ultimate shopping success? Knowing not only where to find gluten-free foods in your supermarket, but identifying which foods are worth buying ready-to-eat and which ones you’re better off making from scratch.
1. Ask customer service where to find gluten-free products. Sure, you could just walk up and down every aisle—the best way to really get to know a supermarket, and worth the time if you regularly shop at the same store. You can also ask if there’s a natural foods section, which usually has shelves stocked with gluten-free goods. Otherwise, some stores have dedicated gluten-free aisles for fast shopping, while others blend in gluten-free products with their gluten-full counterparts.
Express Tip: Look for aisles labeled “Gluten-Free” and shelf-talker signage, too.
2. Shop the perimeter. That’s where you’ll find most of the naturally gluten-free foods, like fruit, vegetables, seafood, meats and dairy. If you stop at the deli department, make sure the meats, cheeses and condiments are gluten-free.
Express Tip: Stick to naturally gluten-free foods and shop gluten-free-certified brands at the deli counter, like Applegate Farms and Boar’s Head.
3. Research gluten-free brands before you buy. If you know what replacement foods you’re specifically looking for — like whole-grain pasta or breakfast cereal — write it down. Then, do some Googling to decide which products look good enough to give a go.
Express Tip: Check out gluten-free-product lists from supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.
4. Ask your Facebook friends or join a gluten-free Facebook group. There are so many new gluten-free items on the market, but not all of them are worth part of your paycheck. Often asking friends what gluten-free foods they and their families love is the fastest way to get insight on the best the market has to offer in terms of flavor and cost.
Express Tip: The best food advice comes from those who have been right where you are and have already taste-tested their way though gluten-free store-bought foods.
5. Read the label. Ultimately, reading the packaging and the ingredient list gives you the information you need. If an ingredient, like “natural flavors,” isn’t clear, watch out for gluten.
Express Tip: Look for the words “gluten free,” which means a product has safely met the FDA standard requirements of less than 20 parts per million of gluten or look for a certified gluten-free seal from a certifying organization, each with its own criteria to ensure consumer safety.
6. Realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve been shopping gluten-free for my family for almost 10 years. When I shop at the store or bake in my kitchen, I look to have the same flavor and texture experience in foods as I had before my son Isaiah was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Every week manufacturers mail me new gluten-free products, and I’ve discovered that many of the gluten-free brands I first fell in love with are still my favorites.
Express Tip: Look for brands that have been around the gluten-free block for more than a decade. After all, there’s usually a good reason behind their delicious success.