Gluten-Free Living: Grocery Shopping

This post is part of the gluten-free living series!

As someone who loves to experiment in the kitchen and who is married to an equally experimental cook, I spend a lot of time in the grocery store. I remember going grocery shopping, gluten-free, for the first time. I picked up my usual fruits, veggies, and proteins and then stopped dead in the aisles when I went to get grains. Not being able to have pasta, wheat bread, cous cous, and gluten-y grains left me feeling confused and a bit frustrated. I must have spent two hours in the grocery aisles obsessively reading labels. Since then, grocery shopping has become significantly less frustrating and is actually a fun experience. If you're newly gluten-free, here are some tips that helped save my sanity in the grocery store:

1. Shop the perimeter: This is good advice in general, but it is especially useful for gluten-free folks. The grocery store perimeter is often where fresh fruits, veggies, dairy, and proteins are located, so you're likely to have an easy time shopping in this area. 2. Head to the organic/natural section: Most mainstream grocery stores have a dedicated organic or natural foods section where they house the majority of "health foods", organic foods, and gluten-free frozen foods. This is usually the area where you can find your gluten-free oats, cereals, flour mixes, and pastas so be sure not to skip it! 3. Read labels: Always, always read labels on anything new that you buy or something you haven't bought in awhile. It's also good to read labels on frequently bought items to ensure that nothing has changed their gluten-free status. Look for the "certified gluten-free" seal on your products and you can be assured that your food is safe! 4. Try new things: I've talked about this before but it bears repeating. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when you're limited on what you can buy. Try picking up something new every few weeks to change up your diet and expose your taste buds to new things. Who knows, you may discover a new "must-have" item. 6. Avoid the junk: Gluten-free packaged foods are not inherently healthier than regular packaged foods, so it is best to skip them. If you do buy them, make sure your read the labels to make sure that they aren't just full of starch and check the nutrition stats. There are some great gluten-free package foods out there, it just takes some detective work!

And in case you're curious, here are some of the constant items that we stock our gluten-free kitchen with:

Fruits - apples, bananas, pomegranates, citrus, whatever is in season! Veggies - kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots (we go through almost 5lbs in two weeks!),broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, onions, whatever we get from the farmer's market Dairy - 0% greek yogurt, various cheeses, soy milk, almond milk, heavy cream (occasionally for baked goods), butter Proteins - local tofu, beans, sliced turkey, organic free-range (and local when I can get them) eggs, organic free-range liquid egg whites, fresh fish that we buy from our local fish monger, chicken occasionally Pantry - rices (brown, jasmine, abborio), dried beans (chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans), quinoa, gluten-free oats, corn tortillas, quinoa pasta, tuna, bpa-free tomatoes, flax seeds, chia seeds, peanuts (for making peanut butter), walnuts, shredded coconut, medjool dates, sweet potatoes, yellow or purple potatoes, protein powder, occasional tortilla chips or other chips, locally roasted coffee Oils & Sauces - coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, cooking spray, srirarcha (I pour this on everything), gluten-free tamari, and tons of canned jams and jellies from husband's family
You can also see my general grocery list with some of my favorite foods over at Relay Foods website! They asked to me create a public list of some of my favorite items using their new list feature. You guys know I'm a huge fan of Relay and I love the new list feature because it easily allows you to order your groceries without doing a new search every time. If you're in the Richmond or Charlottesville area, you should definitely give them a try! (Full Disclosure: I was not solicited or compensated for mentioning Relay Foods. I just really like them!) Do you have any special grocery tips/tricks or favorite items?

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!