Monday, April 8, 2013

What's In My Grocery Cart?

I recently shared my five-day gluten-free meal plan to give you a peek into what a typical week looks like in terms of meals and snacks for someone on a gluten-free diet. I've gotten quite a bit of feedback from friends, family, and readers about whether or not the gluten-free diet is too expensive, how do we keep costs down, and the usual question, "if you can't eat gluten, what else is there to eat?" 

To be honest, I find that last question odd. In recent years, the American diet has become so centered around bread and refined wheat products that the average person can't imagine maintaining a diet that excludes bread and wheat. Our addiction to highly processed starches/wheat—doughnuts, white breads, cookies, crackers, chips, and other unhealthy snacks—has led to a gluten overload. It's now estimated that 50% of American have some form of a gluten intolerance. How can we be surprised by this? The wheat grains that we find in our breads are almost always processed and refined. In other words, any real substance has been removed- it's no longer natural! The next time you buy bread, do yourself a favor and read the number one ingredient on the list; it usually reads "enriched wheat flour" which is something of a misnomer.  (If you want some basic information on that, The Hoax of Enriched Wheat Flour is a good place to start.)

When I politely tell someone that I have to pass on the potato casserole because I know it contains a gluten filler (usually flour thickener or cream of chicken/mushroom soup), I get the look of pity; people even think I'm foolish for removing wheat and grains from my diet. I just have to shrug it off and move on. After almost ten years of dealing with pain and some of the worst health symptoms I could have imagined, my body forced me to feed it different foods. The place I'm at today is a result of my personal reaction to certain foods, not because of a snobbish desire to be the healthiest in the land; I share this information because I want others who may be experiencing the same symptoms I had to know that they can help themselves beyond medication or incessant doctor visits where you're poked and prodded like cattle. I've been there... 

Since I've had to monitor my food intake more closely, I usually plan meals at the beginning of each week, usually on a Sunday. My hubby and I do a big grocery trip where we stock up on the necessaries and replenish things like almond milk, bread, and produce. This usually gets us through until the next Sunday without requiring that we go to another store to get things during the week. That's what way we're able to maintain a decent grocery budget; another way is by reducing the amount of snack food we purchase. We don't like to keep too much in our pantry, mostly because we just don't have the space, but because we prefer to use up most of our food before we return to the store again. This takes care of the snacking solution. So let's go! Here's a peek into our grocery cart.

Produce- Vegetables

We recently started shopping at a local grocery store called Woodman's; I love their produce section- it's vast, has great variety, and they are almost never out of something I need.  I've broken our produce into two parts: vegetables and fruit. Here's what we got for vegetable produce:

- Iceberg lettuce (this isn't typical- usually I get cabbage or spinach, but I needed this for a recipe)
- Roma tomatoes
- Cauliflower
- Carrots 
- Mushrooms (two boxes)
- Green pepper
- Red peppers 
- Ginger
- Parsley (I always buy cilantro too, but I didn't need any this trip)
- Zucchini (they had an amazing sale- 59 cents per pound... I stocked up) 

Not pictured: potatoes and red onions. 

And here's our fruit produce:

- Oranges (2 bags)
- Bananas
- Lemons (I put them in my water and use them for skincare)
- Strawberries (two boxes)

Meat and Dairy

- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (I buy the four pound bag. We were buying two bags and soon found that buying one large bag was less expensive). 
- Butter
- Sour Cream
- Mozzarella shredded cheese
- Stonyfield Organic yogurt (this stuff is amazing: it is chock full of probiotics and live cultures that your gut desperately needs)

Some other items that we tend to buy often are ground beef, goat cheese, and another type of cheese to snack on, usually a local cheddar or havarti cheese. 


- Gluten-free Cinnamon Chex Mix
- Udi's Gluten-free Vanilla granola
- Cheerios
- Sunbelt Bakery Granola

The Chex Mix is pretty much regular Chex, just prepared in a factory that doesn't also process their wheat Chex, therefore making it certified gluten-free. Udi's makes amazing granola- it's filling and absolutely delicious. The Cheerios and Sunbelt Bakery granola are for Luis. 

- Pepperidge Farm Ancient Grains whole wheat bread (for Luis)
- Goodbye Gluten bread
- Udi's gluten-free bread in Cinnamon Raisin
- Mission White Corn tortillas

Since Luis still prefers to eat regular bread, we found an option that we felt was the best nutrient-wise. He gets the Ancient Grain bread from Pepperidge Farm, which is free of enriched flours and in addition to wheat grain, it features grains that are ancient grains. Teff, amaranth, and sorghum are all ancient grains that represent some of the oldest grains consumed by humans. Not only are these unprocessed, they may prevent cancer and other diseases; they are also grains that are naturally gluten-free! 

If you are on the gluten-free diet, Udi's is by far the best bread option out there. It's tasty and there are many different varieties of bread to purchase. Goodbye gluten is a bread I buy when I want the best. I have to drive to a store in Vernon Hills to purchase this bread (about a half hour from where I live), as they don't sell it at Woodman's. It's totally worth it though. 

Snacks and Frozen Food

- Tribe Hummus
- Triscuit Crackeked Pepper & Olive Oil crackers
- Kashi Garlic Pesto pita chips
- Glutino Gluten free Crackers

Naturally, I only eat the Glutino crackers (which are great by the way!)

We try to keep down the amount of frozen food that we purchase, limiting ourselves to frozen fruit/veggies, etc. 

- Ore Ida Zesty Twirls frozen fries
- Dole Mixed Berries frozen fruit
- Unsweetened Red Raspberries
- Van's Gluten-free blueberry waffles

Frozen fries are a hidden source of gluten for those with a gluten intolerance. Ore Ida is one of the only brands that don't use flour as a coating on their fries.


- Dole Pineapple Orange Banana juice
- Silk PureAlmond milk
- Lime and lemon juice

We like Dole's juice because they don't add extra sugar and there is no high fructose corn syrup present in the juice.

Grocery- Part 1

- McCormick Cumin seeds
- Barney Buttter Organic Almond Butter
- S&W Black beans
- College Inn chicken broth
- Sriracha sauce
- Roland Marsala cooking wine
- Spice Supreme whole cloves
- Dried tarragon

With each canned item you'll see, we buy about two for each. Also, if you haven't had almond butter, try it! It's delicious.

Grocery Part 2

- Barilla Marinara
- R.W. Knudsen Organic Apple Butter
- SueBee Clover Honey
- Hunt's Tomato sauce
- Shur Fine Tomato Paste 
- Eillie's Cashew halves and pieces
- Roland Artichoke hearts
- Aroy-D Coconut milk

Again, canned goods are usually purchased in pairs. I also bought pinto beans, which I forgot to picture.

Other items that we normally purchase are paper goods, such as toilet paper and paper towels, dish soap, sponges, and personal items like body wash, etc. 

There are still some different things I'd like to try, such as purchasing beans dry and in bulk instead of canned. As you can see, being gluten free, I still have a very normal diet with a ton of options in terms of meals and snacks. A common misconception is that you have to remove so much from your diet by going gluten-free, and I don't believe that to be true. If anything, I've added more food to my diet since then by embracing foods that are naturally gluten free.

I'd love to hear about your grocery trips! What can't you live without? How do you approach grocery shopping? 


  1. I have a small food addiction so absolutely loved this post - I popped over here from BBN btw. I dont follow a gluten free diet but recently I had some health issues that are forcing me to look a little differently at my diet so this was a great post for me!

  2. Hi Mimi, thanks for coming by! It's so amazing how our bodies know exactly what they need and seem to react in spite of us sometimes. The key to being "healthy" in my opinion, is being able to respond to your body's signals. I'm glad you enjoyed this post!

  3. That's such an awesome deal on fresh produce! It's still too cold here for a farmer's market, but I cannot wait for the summer because they hold one every weekend in the square that's less than a block from where we live. As for gluten- I've just found such evidence that would make me stay away from wheat even if I didn't have a bad reaction. Glad you're seeing good results!


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