6 Tips for Shopping at a Grocery Store with an Allergy

Since I have only had my allergy for a year, I asked for some input from my mom who has been shopping with a gluten allergy for eight years on her tips. For those of you who are new to having a food allergy or even just someone who's curious about what it’s like shopping at the store with an allergy, to make shopping at a grocery store smooth. 

  1. 1. Read the Labels

    Trader Joe'S

    I cannot stress this enough. If you have a food allergy, you have to take extra time to read the labels on the products that you are buying because you would be surprised at the amount of food that gluten can be in that you don’t expect. For example, there are certain ice cream brands that my family can no longer have because they use flour in it. Another food that surprises people is the appearance of wheat in the ingredients for frozen fruits and vegetables. 

  2. 2. Cross-Contamination is a Big Deal

    jar of oats

    Many products list what may be contained in their products, so that is a big place to look first. If the product says "May Contain..." then avoid it, don’t take the chance on it. Even if wheat or any other type of flour isn’t listed in the ingredients, you can’t assume that the food is safe to eat. 

  3. 3. Do Your Research

    It is very important to do your research on certain brands to see what type of products they make, package and sell. They could be made gluten-free, dairy-free or peanut-free items in the same facility as non-allergy-free things which leads to the cross-contamination and the may contain warnings on food labels.

  4. 4. Expect Trial and Error on Products

    a woman leans over a pan of food, taste-testing it

    Some gluten-free food takes some getting used to. You won’t always find the perfect gluten-free replacement for bread and pasta etc. but it takes time. Don’t be afraid to try different brands. Eventually, you will find the ones that you like best. I know some people who tried like two things that were gluten-free and immediately gave up because they didn’t like the taste but if you seriously have the allergy you’re stuck with it, so learn to try new things.

  5. 5. Look Outside of the Allergy-Free Sections

    a woman stands in front of the health juice/kombucha shelves at a grocery store

    You’d be surprised what you can find that’s gluten-free in the middle of normal food aisles. For example, some of the best gluten-free cake mixes have been found in the middle of the baking aisle surrounded by other regular cake mixes. I used the gluten-free Pillsbury cake mix to make all of my graduation cupcakes and didn’t tell any of my guests. No one could tell and instead, I got so many compliments and when I told them they were gluten-free they were always surprised.

  6. 6. Expect the Bill to be More Expensive 

    person holding money

    This is expected when it comes to any allergy-free food item. When you compare the price of bread, say a loaf of bread at Walmart is $1.25, the gluten-free bread is almost $5 and there's not as much in it. Yes, this is probably the biggest negative to being gluten-free but you will come to get used to it and so will your bank account, sadly. 

I hope these tips help, happy shopping!