Whether you’re packing the car trunk with goodies or lugging necessities home on public transport, grocery shopping can often be a tedious task for many of us. The process becomes even more daunting when we’re shopping gluten free for ourselves or our families and need to be especially careful about what we put in our carts. No matter where you are on your gluten-free journey, the following tips should help you more easily navigate the gluten free grocery landscape and avoid the common pitfalls and misconceptions that often come with a gluten-free shopping mission.

Know Your Grocery Does and Don’ts

While shopping don’t forget that not all supermarket sections are created equal and a higher level of vigilance is needed in certain aisles. Shopping around the edge of the store — where fresh produce, meat, and fish usually reside — will give you a better chance of filling up your cart with safe to consume items. Remember, many foods are naturally gluten free, including grains and cereals such as quinoa,  gluten free oats, and brown rice.

Make Labels Your New Best Friends

Many seasoned gluten-free devotees will tell you that persistent label reading was one of the most difficult things to master at the start of their journey. But learning how to read labels and growing accustomed to it is a necessary habit that will inevitably help save money and prevent avoidable health issues. The only thing worse than discovering an item contains gluten after getting home is consuming said item and risking bodily illness and discomfort. In the event that you do accidentally purchase an item with gluten, either return it to the store (if unopened) or donate it to a friend or your local food pantry.

Many stores now have a gluten-free section, and this should be your first stop when seeking out specialty items with clear, gluten-conscious labeling. Foods marked with the Gluten-Free Certification Organization’s (GFCO) emblem are guaranteed to meet strict standards for gluten-free safety since only products that contain less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten are permitted to carry the emblem. Additionally, products with any gluten-free labels must contain less than 20ppm of gluten in accordance with FDA standards, so look out for stickers and labels with special gluten-free lettering and symbols. Regardless of the supermarket section, it’s important to read all labels to avoid falling into gluten filled traps. Even foods that may look gluten free — such as tomato sauce — may have gluten containing additives for thickening or flavoring. The more you practice reading labels, the easier and safer shopping becomes.

Create Lists and Get Creative

Avoiding gluten doesn’t have to be intimidating with the right plan in place. Preparing meal ideas and making ingredient lists in advance will save time in the store and prevent the dreaded missing ingredient realization. Ensuring that the whole list is checked off before leaving the supermarket helps avoid the slips in memory that can sometimes happen when we’re busy looking at all of the in-store options.

Lists are especially important when considering replacement ingredients for traditionally gluten-containing recipes or ensuring that there’s a gluten-free version of a popular household item, such as sandwich bread. Knowing what you need to substitute and if it’s available is key in ensuring that your gluten-free diet doesn’t feel lacking in your favorite foods. Love granola? Make a list of your preferred gluten-free ingredients and make a batch yourself. And don’t be afraid to tweak purchased gluten-free items by adding ingredients to improve them and make them better suited to your tastes — it’s amazing what a little butter can do!

Have a Love/Hate Cheat Sheet

Found a particular product you can’t live without? Put the brand and variety on a handy cheat sheet you can quickly access so you never forget the names of your favorite items. Make sure to include the purchase source as well in order to easily group products that can be purchased in store and others that are only available online. Having a log of trusted and enjoyed brands helps take the pressure off of trying to find tasty gluten-free foods every time you hit the shop.

Conversely, making a list of items you’ve tried and never want to purchase again is equally important. The gluten-free product industry is growing every day and with more variety now than ever before, it can be easy to forget which items you did not enjoy. This choice, however, is also what makes gluten-free eating fun, since trying new products can open up additional flavor options and lead you to your next beloved gluten-free food.

Ready to dive into gluten free shopping? Check out our finding gluten-free products page for easy search tips and our online store for a vast array of safe products tested to 5ppm standards. 

We take both safety and taste seriously and are sure that you and your family will love our delicious gluten free mixes and cookbooks. We encourage you to make life taste good again!