Having a medical condition that requires a strict diet can be stressful. It makes normal everyday tasks, like grocery shopping or going out with friends, difficult. And traveling? That’s a whole ‘nother level of stressful!
Going grocery shopping can take longer when you have to be gluten free. You know you can trust certain brands but everything else? You need to read the labels, even if you previously were able to eat something because companies love to change ingredients, formulas, whatever. It can feel like an insurmountable task each week. And then you look at all the gluten free breads and realize you are paying over $7 for a loaf of bread that is as close to gluten as you’ve found. But you can’t just give up bread!
How can you reduce the stress of grocery shopping?
You can’t avoid it. Well, I suppose you could have your spouse/partner just do it all. Or do it all online if it helps but if you gotta go to the store, let’s figure out ways to ease the pain of grocery shopping!
Meal planning is a great way to know what you need to get at the store. Meal planning can be as simple or complex as you want it. A very simple meal plan is to decide on a meat and vegetable or another side for each night. For example, Monday you will have chicken rice bowls and you know that will last two days then on Tuesday you’ll make hamburgers and fries. You know you will need to have on hand chicken, rice, frozen vegetables, hamburger, buns, cheese, etc. If you can, make recipes or meals with similar ingredients. Want onion on your hamburgers? Use half for the rice bowls and the other half for burgers!
Then start a list. You did your meal plan, and checked what you already have so start with the meal plan ingredients you need. Then add your staples like milk, eggs, etc that you are low or out of. Having a list will help you remember what you need and keep that impulse buys down. Sometimes it’s even useful to write what items or flavors you have on hand already so you aren’t buying ham lunch meat when you already have ham at home.
Shop your ad and coupons. Most stores offer digital ads and coupons so check those before you leave the house. You can even make your list and meal plan for the week based on what is on sale or which coupon is the best. And don’t be afraid of store brands! Many of them are as good as the name brands at a lower price. Does your store have a free rewards or member program? Be sure to use that as they will often send you personalized coupons for items you buy a lot.
Don’t be afraid to grab frozen vegetables and fruit. Frozen vegetables make easy dinner sides and fruit can be tossed into a smoothie or thaw to eat. Plus, frozen doesn’t go bad as fast as fresh and it is as nutritionally good for you! Or maybe you prefer canned goods. It doesn’t always have to be fresh to be good for you.
So you got your groceries. Now your friend called and wants to grab a bite. What do you do?!?
First, don’t panic. It’s hard but with some research and talking to restaurants, you can find places to eat within your comfort level. The Find Me Gluten Free app is a great tool with many restaurants listed and reviews from users. Google can also help find places.
Start by reviewing their menu online. Do they have a separate gluten free menu? Do they indicate dishes on their regular menu that are or can be gluten free? Make notes of questions you may have about the dish. If you aren’t comfortable showing up and winging it give the restaurant a call. Talking to someone may help your comfort level. If the person answering the phone doesn’t know or isn’t sure don’t be afraid to ask for a manager. And if all else fails, skip this place and move on to the next!
As for traveling? Well, check out the post Gluten Free Travel.
How do you deal with the stress of eating while celiac? Drop your tips in the comments!
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