Life is too short to eat foods you aren’t excited about, and for many of those who are just transitioning to eating new foods due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance this feeling can be dreadful. You may find yourself asking, “What gluten-free foods could there possibly be to eat that I can enjoy?” It may feel very limiting at first, but give it some time. You will come to discover new dishes to love and adapt some of the ingredients in your current favorite recipes.

Living gluten free doesn’t mean you have to throw away everything in your pantry and drive to the nearest health food store. And although it may feel like it at first, you are not doomed to eating foods you hate for the rest of your life. It might take a little more research and a little more meal planning, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. 

Creating a gluten-free shopping list means understanding what you can eat, knowing what you have, and what you need. Our biggest piece of advice when grocery shopping is to start a running list of all the things you enjoy eating, that way they are easy and quick to find each time you go to the store. Focus on and savor those foods you really love to eat! Equally as important is to make a list of all the items (food or brands) you did not enjoy eating so you are careful to never purchase them again. 

 Fundamentals of a Gluten-Free Shopping List

  1. Take stock of all items in your pantry and fridge that you CAN eat. It may shock you how many food items you have to get rid of, but focus instead on what you can keep and make a list of everything you have. Also, if you get overwhelmed because you do have a lot to replace, know that there are many options that exist and it can be a matter of finding where to purchase the replacement. 
  1. Know what foods are naturally gluten free (and those to avoid). The easiest way to maintain a healthy and delicious gluten-free lifestyle is to know your foods. It is important to understand what gluten is, all the different names it goes by, and know how to read food labels and identify whether or not a food is safe for you to eat. Make a list of all the ingredients to avoid when shopping gluten free and keep it handy. Doing your research and going prepared will make your shopping trip feel less overwhelming. 

Here are some key things that can help you make your list and is a great place to start. 

Names for Gluten including Hidden Names  

  • Barley 
  • Malt or Malt Flavoring 
  • Wheat 
  • Rye 
  • Brewer’s Yeast 
  • Spelt or Farro 
  • Graham Flour 

Learn more about hidden ingredients that come from gluten from Nourish by WebMD.  

Foods That Are Naturally Gluten Free:

  • fruits 
  • beans and nuts
  • vegetables
  • meats and poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • dairy

Gluten Free Grains and Starches:

  • quinoa
  • brown and wild rices
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • arrowroot
  • soy 
  • tapioca
  • flax
  • chia 
  • yucca
  • gluten-free oats (make sure they are purity protocol produced)
  • nut flours (ex. almond)
  • lentils 

Gluten-Free Beverages:

  • 100% fruit juices
  • beer (ONLY those brands labeled gluten free)
  • Wine and brandy that doesn’t have any added flavors or colors
  • coffee
  • tea

Foods to Avoid: *(Not an exhaustive list)

  • wheat 
  • rye (Pumpernickel)
  • breaded meat or fish
  • bread crumbs
  • Cereal (depends on the type of cereal)
  • pasta (unless otherwise indicated)
  • beer, ales; non-distilled liquors 
  • malt beverages 
  • graham (form of wheat)
  • malt (form of wheat)
  • farina (form of wheat)
  • couscous (form of wheat)
  • creamed soups
  • seasoning packets
  • soy sauce (there are some brands that are gluten free, be sure to read and check the label)
  • French fries (depending on seasonings and preparation)
  1. Divide the list up by meals (or by food groups). We like to divide everything up based on meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, kids snacks, kids lunches, stock pantry items, etc.). It makes meal planning and your trip to the grocery store less stressful when you know exactly what you have in each category. 

You can also write out your grocery list based on food groups. Many grocery stores have the same layout, or a layout that is pretty similar. This means foods are split into sections to make it easier for shopping. Freezer foods and dairy sit around the perimeter, as well as the deli and produce sections which are set along back or side walls. Non-perishables cover the middle aisles of a store.

  1. Think about the meals you’ll be making with the ingredients you have and need. 

Grocery shopping and meal planning go hand-in-hand. Knowing what you have and knowing what you need will make planning and preparing your meals a breeze, not to mention cut down on the amount of trips you take to the grocery store. 

While meal planning can seem a bit intimidating sometimes, it doesn’t have to be. Just like with building your grocery list, understanding what you like and don’t like can help make planning your meals a little easier. 

Here are a few of our recipe suggestions:

Breakfast: Crustless Quiche

Lunch: Betsy’s Amazing Chili

Dinner: Broccoli & Beef

Desert: Pumpkin Cookies 

For all of these recipes and more of our tried and tested favorites, visit the GF Recipes section of our website. 

  1. Are there non-perishable items on your list that you can order online? As you sit and write your grocery list, are there items you can order online and have delivered? Make a list of what you need and order them as soon as you have completed your grocery list. Quick mixes, flours, and pantry stock items are a few of the many non-perishable items you can buy online and stock up on.  We even have an online store with a variety of products tested to 5 ppm, that are manufactured in a dedicated gluten free facility. 
  1. Find gluten-free meals you enjoy and make them a regular part of your meal planning.  

Many of the meals you already love and eat regularly can be made gluten free. Click here to shop our selection of certified gluten-free products and let Eating Gluten Free help you make life taste good again! 

Grocery shopping can take time, and it takes some planning to find out which stores carry the products you need and love. The key here is to start trying a few things, and to keep a list of what you like and be sure to include the specific brands you enjoy and don’t enjoy. If you are getting overwhelmed, taking 10 minutes a day over the next couple of weeks can make a huge difference in what you can accomplish. 

We promise that over time it will get easier and in the last few years, more and more products are available that are gluten free. Just know that you aren’t alone and that with practice you will be able to adjust recipes, and you will be able to find new options, flavors, and foods.