October 17, 2011

Your First Grocery Trip

Your first grocery trip will probably be more stressful than shopping for groceries the day before Thanksgiving. You may think I'm kidding but you will understand when this dreaded trip is over.

As you read this blog, please keep in mind that I am a frugal shopper because funds are very limited for me. We live on about $100 in groceries per month, and some months it is less. I know that sounds absolutely crazy in this day and time with grocery prices the way they are but I have no choice and I make it work. (And no, I am not an extreme couponer, I just don't buy "JUNK")

When I was diagnosed, a trip to the grocery store was difficult. "Gluten Free" was not written on the outside of any box that was gluten free. I had to read every ingredient of every single item I picked up. I got to the point where I would rather just buy things that I knew were naturally gluten free instead of reading ingredients for hours. Some of you may have the luxury of going to a health food store or grocery store and stand on the gluten free aisle and pick up whatever you want. I am mainly referring to the specialty cereals, pretzels, packaged cookies and things like that. There was ONE time where I made a trip to a health food store and purchased gluten free "goodies". I think I walked out of the store with six or seven items and I spent over $50. I decided after that trip that I would never do that again, and I haven't.

Here's how to do gluten free on a budget... Stay on the perimeter! Think about it, fresh and frozen veggies, fresh and frozen meats, milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Yes, I buy cereal and I buy ketchup and coffee and all those good things, but after your first initial trip of buying absolutely EVERYTHING you need, you mainly stick to the perimeter unless you are re-stocking something.

Your first trip should consist of the things on your list that you labeled "Gluten" in your refrigerator and some other basics like GF pasta, chips and a gluten free baking mix. Baking mixes are usually multi-purpose.( I use a specific one, which I will talk about it an other post about the different products that I recommend) The baking mix I use can do a lot of things. I use it to make pancakes, biscuits, gravy, bread, breading if I fry anything (which is never), thickeners for soup if I do not have cornstarch, muffins, etc. I would say baking mix is a necessity to purchase on your first shopping trip.

If you shop at Walmart, they have a very good variety of gluten free items. The Walmart I shop at here in Florida, has recently added the world's smallest gluten free section. Ha!! I can't complain, they added my gf cornbread mix that I can not find anywhere else.

Here is what a good "first" GF shopping trip may look like:
-Mustard (if you have the kind in the jar and not the squeeze)
-Butter (if you do not use squeeze butter)
-Peanut Butter (Cross Contamination!!)
-Jelly or Jam
-GF Pasta
-GF Cereal (Chex has great cereals, Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles are GF also)
-GF Chips (Many chips are GF. Doritos has some GF chips, NOTE: nacho cheese is NOT GF.)
-GF Canned Soups (if you need something to easily grab for lunch)
-GF All Purpose Baking Mix (Note: it should be able to do more than pancakes and I do not recommend Bisquick's GF Mix)
-GF Cake Mix or Brownie Mix (One that is easy to prepare since all of this GF is new to you)
-Veggies (if you do not have any)
-Fresh or frozen chicken, beef, turkey (if you do not have any)
-Corn Tortillas (I use them for sandwiches!!)

I am sure I have missed something, but that gives you an idea of what some basics are that you will need to get you through the first few days of your new lifestyle. As an added bonus, here is another helpful list!

Things to stay away from:
-Cream of... Soups (Mushroom, Chicken, Veggie, etc.)
-Campbell's Red label soups (many are thickened with flour)
-Anything in the frozen section that is fried or breaded. (This should be a no-brainer, but you never know)
-Majority of Breakfast Cereals
-Breakfast bars, protein bars, anything with Oats. (This is for someone going GF, not wheat free)
-Prepared Breakfast foods in general (breakfast bars, pop tarts, etc.)
-Some Barbeque Sauces and other prepared sauces
-Packaged seasoning mixes (Some are GF, some are not, if you have time, stay a while and read them all!)
-Prepared Baked Goods
-Baking mixes (Cake mixes, cookie mixes, muffin mixes, brownie mixes, etc.)
-Chex Mix (The Chex cereal is GF but they put pretzels in the trail mix)

There are many items to stay away from, so just read labels and be smart!!

Good Luck!!!

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