To thrive gluten free – and not just survive – you’re gonna need to get a handle on your grocery store options. Chances are, your normal grocery store routine does NOT include easy access to all the GF products that will make for a smooth transition to GF living.
First, make a list of all the grocery stores in your area. Google does a great job if you google “grocery store, city, state” (ex. grocery store, ann arbor, mi).
You’ll probably be surprised that there are a handful of grocery stores that you didn’t even know existed. That’s because grocery shopping is all about location, location, location. Remember, GF living requires a little bit of advance planning, so it’s necessary to find the places where you can get your staples and supplies. A once-a-month trip to an out of the way market may give you the secret ingredient for your soon-to-be favorite recipe. Assuming that item keeps well, buy four instead of one and make that trip once a month instead of once a week. YES, GF shopping can be pricey but you’ll save money by eating right at home vs. eating not-so-right in the drive-thru lane.
Idea: take all of your non-GF food to a local food pantry or shelter. There are folks that can use this food and let’s face facts. This food will make you sick, so give it to someone that needs it, write it down on a list and find a GF substitute that will be yummy in your tummy and not make you regret a bad decision splurge.
If you go to the local health food store – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Arbor Farms etc – you will find options that other stores don’t have (yet) and perhaps more important, you’ll find people versed in discussing a food allergy with ideas to improve your diet and your health. These options, ideas and people will help you find your shopping groove as you explore your GF options.
Once you find your groove, this is when you can approach your local grocery store, seek out the manager and ask that they start carrying some of your NEW gluten free staples. In case they’re not aware of it, let them know that you are one of a growing population of Gluten Free shoppers. Some recent reports say that people needing a GF diet are now 1 in every 100 people and that the GF population is growing every year. This certainly makes it a smart move for the grocery store General Manager to carve out ten feet of aisle space and one freezer door for GF items. And best of all, you’ll help them find the best GF products based on what you know and eat today. And if you have good GF options at your local store, you’ll be more inclined to shop there more often. For better or worse, it all comes down to money. Tell your grocer that you’ll shop at their store more often and that you’ll tell other GF friends about ‘local’ GF shopping if they provide what you need.
In summary, you’re probably gonna need to expand your grocery store options and then ask your local store to expand their GF options. Yes, it’s more work but once you get your GF mojo on, things have a way of falling into a nice & easy routine. And then you can spend more time having fun with other things in life!