grocery shopping

Not sure where to go shopping?

The most important thing is to get familiar with the stores in your area, and visit multiple locations. Even it is a national or regional chain, the products they carry may still vary. There are three Fry's locations, for example, in a roughly two-mile radius of my home--only one location has anything like a gluten-free section, and it is fairly impressive. I didn't find it, however, until we had been living here for six months, and I had already visited the two other stores.

Also, bear in mind that many grocery stores started out as small, family businesses, so they tend to be fairly local. You may have options available in your area that I've never heard of, and vice versa. That said, here are some of my favorite grocery stores for gluten-free items here in Phoenix, AZ:
  • Sprouts (wide variety of specialty items)
  • Whole Foods (wide variety of specialty items)
  • Costco (specialty & bulk items), 
  • Fry's (select stores have a variety of specialty items)
  • Target (baking mixes)
  • Wal-Mart (general groceries)
  • Safeway (features easy-to-spot gluten-free shelf tags)

Don't know how to read product labels?

All celiacs should get used to reading labels. While the food industry becomes increasingly aware of celiac disease, there is still a long way to go. Follow the tips below to help you become an expert (and speedy) label reader.

And a friendly tip: do them in order. I cannot tell you the number of times I have intently studied an ingredients list for a few measurable moments, only to discover a large, noticeable, "gluten-free" logo right next to my thumb.
  1. Scan the product label for a "gluten-free" label or icon. Common spots for these are on the front where they are easy to see, on the back or side of the box in small print, or near the ingredients list.
  2. Quickly read the ingredients list, looking for key words. If you see "wheat" anywhere in the list, then you know it's a no-go. However, words like "flour," "starch," or "malt" can also help you quickly rule out gluten-containing products, depending on what type of flour and starch. (Malt is derived from barley, so it is always unsafe. In the U.S., modified food starch is safe unless it specifies wheat on the label [It's typically potato or corn].)
  3. Read the ingredients list again, slowly and carefully. It may seem redundant, but it helps reduce the chance that you'll overlook something. 
  4. Train your family and roommates. If anyone shares in the grocery-shopping and or cooking responsibilities, teach them how to read labels as well. You need to have confidence that you can send someone on a midnight grocery-store run, and they'll come back with something you can actually eat.

Having trouble finding gluten-free products that don't cost an arm and a leg? 

My grocery list features everyday, name-brand items that just happen to be labeled gluten free. They aren't marketed as specialty products, so they tend to be a little cheaper. As I hear about new items (and verify that they are labeled gluten-free), I will add them to the list. If you are interested in specialty gluten-free items, those will appear periodically in my posts.

Be aware that the list is based mostly on my own knowledge and shopping experience, so it is by no means exhaustive. If you are interested in a more complete gluten-free grocery shopping guide, check out this product from Triumph Dining. I shop primarily at Wal-Mart, so you can probably find many of these items in your local store.

Remember--recipes and ingredients change all of the time and a particular brand may have both gluten-free and non-gluten free items, so always look for the gluten-free label each time you buy an item!

  • Breakfast cereals
    • Chex cereals
      • Chocolate, Honey Nut, Apple Cinnamon, Rice, and Corn
    • Cocoa Pebbles
    • Fruity Pebbles
    • Rice Krispies gluten free variety only
      • NOTE: the prepackaged treats & all other varieties contain gluten via barley malt flavoring
  • Baked Beans
    • All Bush's brand products
  • Chili
    • Hormel Chili With Beans 
      • Turkey and No Bean varieties contain gluten; look for the label
  • Frosting
    • All Betty Crocker frosting flavors
  • Margarine & Mayonnaise
    • Best Foods
      • Some products contain gluten (e.g. Dijonnaise); look for the label or check out their online ingredients lists
    • Smart Balance
  • Marinades & Sauces
    • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
    • Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce
  • Meats
    • Aidells sausage, hot dogs, etc.
    • Hormel pepperoni
    • Hormel Natural Choice Original Smoked Sausage
    • Kirkland Signature Beef Hot Dogs (Costco store brand)
    • Land O' Frost pre-packaged lunch meats
    • Wright sausage
    • Johnsonville Andouille sausage (the label is tiny, but it's there)
  • Mustard
    • French's
    • Koops' 
      • available at Target and at least some Dollar Tree locations
      • includes deli spicy brown mustard, Dijon (hard to find) and honey mustard options
  • Pasta sauces
    • Classico
    • Prego
  • Rice Mixes
    • Zatarain's Jambalaya
      • Check out all of their gluten-free products here
      • Read my post about my love for jamablaya here
  • Salad Dressings
    • Select Wish-Bone salad dressings
  • Salsa
    • La Victoria
    • Pace
  • Snack foods
    • Lay's potato chips
      • Look for the label; Many products are certified gluten-free, while others simply don't contain gluten (but may be cross-contaminated)
    • Ocean Spray Craisins (dried cranberries)
    • TGI Friday's Potato Skins Snack Chips: Cheddar & Bacon
      • Delicious and highly addicting; other varieties available; look for the label
    • Welch's Fruit Snacks
  • Soups
    • select Progresso soups
      • French Onion
      • Lentil
      • Garden Vegetable
      • Split Pea With Ham
  • Tortillas, soft corn
    • La Banderita
    • Mission
      • Corn products are produced on dedicated production lines, which greatly reduces the chances of cross-contamination
Want to add something to the list? Need a recommendation for a certain type of product? Leave a comment, and I will look into it.

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