Grocery shopping can be either your stress relief or source of stress and based on our experience, it’s most stressful when you don’t have a plan on what to buy or have zero ideas of what you need. I can easily say that it’s more fun and stress-free when you have a plan before heading out to your favorite grocery store. This is an old but guaranteed-to-work technique that will surely lessen the possibilities of forgetting something important than remembering it when you’re already home and ready to rest.
If your kids or any of your loved ones at home have food allergies, then this grocery shopping plan is a must. We know that to maintain food allergy safety at home, we need to make sure that the foods that we have in the fridge or on the pantry are allergen free. To help you get started with your stress-free grocery shopping journey here is our easy to follow tips:
Have a Meal Plan
Your meal plan can be weekly or monthly depending on how many times you can conveniently visit your favorite grocery store. If your meal ideas are still limited, you can expand it by checking online recipes, vegan recipes are a good option for starters. You can easily add or remove ingredients depending on the allergen that you’re avoiding and they’re normally egg and dairy free.
Meal planning can save you time in the grocery store since you already have the ingredients that you needed in mind. This will also make sure that you’re preparing safe dishes for your loved ones.
Extra tip: You can have your meal plan alongside your activity plan per day. If you think that you have more activities that day, and then choose an easy to prepare dishes that are still healthy and allergy free.
Double Check Your Pantry and Fridge
There’s nothing wrong with having stocks in your pantry but it’s best if you can utilize them as well instead of forgetting them until expiration. You can start your meal plan by knowing what you have in your pantry, this will help you gauge the quality of fruit and veggies that you have on hand.
Having an idea of what you have will also help you if you’re in a budget. If you have leftovers in your fridge, it will make it easier for you to decide about your next meal or dish so make sure to do that inventory check before heading out. Keep in mind that leftovers are easy to prepare, saves you money, and allergy free.
Extra tip: Maximize your freezer by freezing leftover foods or ingredients like fruits and veggies. There are online “hacks” on how to freeze up certain fruits and veggies without damaging it.
Check Out “free-from” Aisle First
Most grocery stores have a “free-from” aisle so make sure that you check it out first, spend more time browsing for value products that are top-8 free. This is where you can find gluten-free flour, dairy-free chocolate, and other allergen-free products that your kids will definitely love.
Be Careful Around Delis or Bakeries
It’s not that their products are unsafe or not good but freshly baked goods are allowed not to declare their full ingredients list and this is a big red flag for someone with food allergies. Even if you think you took all the safety precautions like declaring your allergies or asking the ingredients, there’s the risk of cross-contamination. Speaking of cross-contamination, avoid salad bars or hot food bars as well for this same reason.
Read Food or Product Labels Carefully
Don’t forget to always read food or product labels carefully, this is not an option but must be one of your top priorities when shopping for food. Even if you think that the food is safe as you had it before, read it again as it may have undergone some changes.
We wrote a more detailed article about the importance of reading food labels and you can check it out here.
Extra tip: Watch out for product recalls as it is mostly due to product contamination and mislabeling.
Connect With Other Food Allergy Families and Advocates
Food allergy families, groups, and advocates are the most helpful and accommodating. Utilize social media and don’t hesitate to ask for advice or tips about food allergy safe products, foods, and snacks, stores, etc. They are one of the best sources of information about food allergy safety and recipes, and they’ll definitely understand what you’re going through when it comes to food allergies and issues surrounding it.
One last tip is to always have an emergency plan. You can be as extensive as choosing a store that is near to a hospital in case of anaphylaxis.
REMEMBER to bring your EAI (epinephrine auto-injector) in your PracMedic EpiPen Case and charge your phone before leaving your house so you can call 911 (USA) or 000 (Australia).