My body composition is 75% lettuce and pasta
When people find out about my allergies (dairy, nuts, peanuts, legumes) they always ask me two things: What do I eat and is my grocery bill crazy expensive? So let's visit my local grocery store together and find out.
What do I eat?
There are weeks when I meal plan and weeks when I don't. But whether I plan ahead or not there are some things that never change. I eat a large salad every single day. I consume a lot of olive oil, a good healthy fat. I have pasta at least twice a week and I like good quality tomatoes because I make my own sauce. Avocado with soy sauce, or a heaping spoon of Sunbutter are excellent snacks. Plain Kettle Chips are my cheat food. I bake my own bread, and I consider a few slices of prosciutto on a salad to be a fantastic dinner. Oatmeal with banana and honey, a couple boiled eggs, or a homemade scone are my breakfast foods of choice. I go through a lot of Starbucks dark roast coffee at home. I keep graham crackers or Enjoy Life chewy bars in my desk for snacks along with Mighty Leaf White Orchard tea.
I have no empirical proof of this but I feel like prices of dedicated allergen-free products have come down in the last few years. You'll often pay a little extra for products that are made in a dedicated allergen-free facility than you will for ones that just happen to be allergen-free. But I would rather dish out an extra fifty cents to eat things I know are safe and I find that if I wait a few weeks things always go on sale and I can stock up.
Tonight I decided to compare prices of some common dedicated allergen-free foods I buy weekly to some allergy un-friendly ones at my local Loblaws.
Chocolate Chips: Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips for $5.99 (but on sale 2 for $10) vs. Chipits Milk Chocolate Chips for $4.49. $0.50 cost variance.
Yogurt: Yoso Unsweetened Coconut Milk Yogurt $4.99 vs. Liberte Organic Yogurt for $4.99. $0 variance.
Milk: Rice Dream 2 for $8 (regular $4.49) vs. Neilson 2% milk for $3.83. $0.17 - $0.66 variance.
Butter: Earth Balance Organic Whipped Spread $3.49 vs. PC Organics Salted Butter for $5.49. -$2.00 variance (!)
Peanut Butter: Sunbutter $5.99 on sale (regular $6.99) vs. Kraft Peanut Butter for $4.99. $1 - $2 variance.
There isn't as great a variance in price as you'd think, is there? I often draw these comparisons when people ask whether my diet is difficult to manage or when I get the common response, "OMG you can't eat anything." Just look at all the substitutes available, and for not much difference in price at all.
Weekly, aside from the above items, my basic grocery shop includes: banana for every day of the week, a couple avocados, garlic, fresh ginger, a large box of baby lettuce, some type of dark leafy greens, lots of tomatoes (fresh and tinned), pure durum wheat pasta, citrus fruits, and some type of meat or fish. No packaged meals, no frozen foods, none of the bad preservative-filled nonsense! And buying everything fresh means I have control over what I'm putting into my body, and also puts less stress on my credit card bill. Which is always nice :)
Thank God most allergen-free products aren't merchandized in the baby aisle anymore! For years I spent so much time in the baby/toddler section of grocery stores where the Enjoy Life line and Rice Dream were kept next to the formula and soft cereal. Many of my friends thought it was hard to find the products they saw me eating and I think it was more an issue of store navigation than actual availability.
I've found that Loblaws tends to have the fullest selection and fortunately I've always lived near one. When I'm out of Toronto, at my cottage for example, there is only Sobeys and Foodland which sometimes have none of my usual go-to brands. As a result I'm constantly transporting food all over Ontario and buying things en masse when they go on sale so that I can keep things in various locations. My advice is to talk to the manager of your local grocery store and ask them directly if they can source the items you're looking for.
We want to know what your grocery shop is like. Do you find allergen-free products difficult to find? Are they more expensive or are they priced fairly? Let us know!