One of the many challenges of having a child with food allergies is grocery shopping. Reading every label can be daunting, especially if your child has multiple allergens to contend with. Here are some tips to ease your shopping trip and save you money.
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1. When grocery shopping it is a good rule of thumb to try to stay on the outer perimeter of the store. This is where you will find the majority of allergen free foods (fruit, vegetables, meats, deli). This is a healthier (and less costly) way to shop whether you have food allergies or not.
2. When buying packaged food look for products that have 5 ingredients or less on the label. Odds are if there are more than 5 ingredients your child won’t be able to eat it. This will save you hours of shopping time and unnecessary frustration.
3. If there are any ingredients on a label that you can’t identify, don’t risk it. Companies will use different names to try to mask ingredients. Another rule I follow is, if you can’t pronounce it you don’t need to eat it.
4. If your child is on a gluten-free diet, ask at the customer service desk if they have a gluten-free products list. This will make it easier to search for products that are safe for your child. Many stores also have a gluten-free section that makes shopping much easier, all you have to do is ask.
5. Go to natural food stores like Whole Foods, Earthfare and Trader Joes. They have great organic choices and foods without all the preservatives and chemicals. They also have a trained staff that is eager to help. To find an organic store near you got to http://www.organicstorelocator.com .
6. Recheck labels on foods you eat all the time. Just because something was safe the last time you bought it, doesn’t mean it will be now. Ingredients can change overnight and it’s important to always double-check to make sure nothing new has been added to the ingredient list.
7. Buying healthy food can be expensive. Try to find another family or two who buy the same kinds of foods as you and buy together in bulk. This is great for buying things online and it will save you on shipping.
8. Seek out farms in your area that raise fresh eggs, organic fruits and vegetables and grass fed beef. Their prices are usually reasonable and you will get really fresh food that tastes great. You can also buy a side of beef and carve it to share with your friends and family.
9. Talk to other shoppers. If you see someone picking up a product that you haven’t tried, ask how it tastes and why they like it. Specialty foods can be very expensive and it’s disappointing to spend $5 for a box of gluten-free breakfast bars that taste awful and your child won’t eat.
10. Don’t be afraid to make it yourself. Often times the best solution is to buy the ingredients and make it yourself. You will know exactly what is in your food and can freeze baked goods and meals to be eaten later. Many children with food allergies can’t eat in restaurants so take out is not an option. Having ready-made meals in the freezer makes it much easier to make a quick meal on those days when you are running late or are too tired to cook.
More helpful tips and lists of favorite foods, websites and resources will soon be released in my food allergy e-book. Subscribe to this blog and we will let you know when it’s available.
Nancy is a food allergy fighter, mom and experienced entrepreneur with a passion for helping people. Learn more about her (here) and follow her on Twitter @dnpfoodallergy.