9 Ways to Live Gluten-Free During the Pandemic
How has the pandemic affected people who live gluten-free? In a time where we’ve drastically changed our daily routines, what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced maintaining your gluten-free way of life, and how have you overcome them – or have you?
We’ve compiled nine ways that maintaining our gluten-free lives have been affected by the lockdowns and changes across the country. Can you relate?
1. Cooking more.
For better or for worse, you’re probably finding yourself in the kitchen more than ever before – and not all of us have the culinary skills that seem to be required for these unprecedented times.
Pros: Gaining new skills in the kitchen. The ability to know exactly what’s in your food. Eating out less and (possibly) saving money in the long run. You baked a loaf of bread for the first time, didn’t you?
Cons: More dirty dishes than you’ve ever seen before. You’re running out of ideas for your next meal (aka recipe fatigue.)
Check out our 31 January Food Holidays post for some inspiration.
2. Getting creative in the kitchen.
To combat recipe fatigue, you’re getting way more experimental than ever before. Gluten-free popovers, anyone? How about a Soufflé or even a funnel cake?
Pros: You’re getting in touch with the inner chef you never knew you had. You’re discovering all the kitchen gadgets and appliances you never knew you needed.
Cons: Your family may or may not be excited about the next thing that comes out of the oven.
3. Finding it harder to locate gluten-free foods.
It isn’t only toilet paper that’s flying off the shelves during the pandemic. At many stores, the gluten-free sections are bare. From gluten-free pastas to gluten-free breads, what you used to find easily may now be missing.
Pros: You may be on your way to discovering the convenience of ordering groceries online or finding new, interesting (and delicious) brands you’ve never tried before.
Cons: Your gluten-free cupboards are getting bare.
4. Ordering groceries online.
To stay safe (and to find the gluten-free items you need), you may be opting to order your groceries online or through an app. Then you may be opting either to pick them up in a store parking lot for no-contact service or have them delivered right to your door.
Pros: Fast and convenient. No more wandering grocery store aisles while hangry.
Cons: Your search online for GF foods from your favorite grocer serves up a lot of non-GF results, causing confusion and potential issues.
How do you double-check the safety of the foods you’re ordering?
- Look for the “gluten-free” certification from a reputable certifying organization like GFCO.
- If you can’t find a “gluten-free” certification mark, look for the words “gluten-free” on the food label.
- If there are no obvious signs that a packaged food is gluten-free, check the label and read the ingredients carefully. Some online grocers publish the ingredients on their ordering app. If not, check the manufacturer’s website for more details.
- Use an app, such as ShopWell Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner, that suggests the best gluten-free alternatives to non-gluten-free food items.
- If ordering an item that may not always be gluten-free – such as corn tortillas – put a note to the shopper or grocery delivery service that any substitution must be gluten-free.
- If your grocer’s online service includes a personal shopper, you could opt to send them a message letting them know you are gluten-free and ask them to keep gluten-free items separated.
- When you receive your groceries, double check that the substitutions are gluten-free. For example, some tortillas are mostly corn but may also contain wheat.
Check out our 3 Tips for Reading Gluten-Free Labels.
5. Gathering less (or not at all).
With the recommendations for reducing gatherings and sticking with only immediate family or household members to stay safe during the pandemic, you’re less likely to have the typical social challenges that many people living gluten-free often experience.
Pros: Less social awkwardness explaining why you are gluten-free or what gluten is in the first place. Not having to grill a family member over the ingredients of their latest culinary creation.
Cons: It can be pretty lonely. Time to break out the Zoom video chat.
6. Trying meal prep services.
Meal prep services might not be in everybody’s budget, but nutritious and delicious meals delivered right to your door sure are handy. Not all meal prep service companies offer gluten-free meals, so look for the ones that do so you know you’re getting safe-to-eat ingredients. Try a meal prep service like GFFS-validated Green Chef that delivers fresh ingredients with instructions on how to cook them and Freshly that delivers chef-cooked meals ready for you to heat and eat.
Pros: Cooking convenience in a box. Great for beginner chefs who need a little extra help, or seasoned chefs looking for inspiration.
Cons: An extra expense.
If meal prep services aren’t in the cards right now, try these different ways to use/cook kitchen staples:
- Lets Get Cooking: Beans
- Lets Get Cooking: Eggs
- Lets Get Cooking: Gluten-Free Grains
- Lets Get Cooking: Rice
- Lets Get Cooking: Nuts
7. Craving more comfort food.
Looking to make – and eat – foods from your childhood or from less stressful times? Bring on the comfort foods! Some hot cocoa and gluten-free cookies, homemade chicken noodle soup, or really cheesy mac and cheese could do the trick. What is your favorite comfort food?
Pros: You feel better for a minute. A fun way to share a favorite childhood food with your family.
Cons: How in the world did we eat the whole thing?
Search the GFCO product directory for certified gluten-free comfort foods like “mac and cheese” and “bread.”
And remember, there’s room for all types of foods in a healthy, gluten-free diet. Balance those richer comfort foods with healthy complements like vegetables and fruits.
8. Dealing with a stricter food budget.
Have you been feeling a big financial pinch? You are not alone. The pandemic’s effect on everything from employment to the entire food supply chain means grocery prices are soaring and our wallets are thin.
Cons: The stress.
Check out our tips on cutting costs while eating gluten-free.
Are you struggling to buy the gluten-free food you need? We’re working on a way to support more people living gluten-free on a budget. Sign up to be a GIG member to be one of the first to learn more.
9. Discovering the wonders of meal planning.
You’ve known about planning and cooking extra meals in advance and freezing them, but it always seemed like something other people did in a perfect world. Suddenly, meal planning makes sense.
Pros: Spend less time throughout your week thinking about cooking. Save time and stress trying to think of what to make next. Better manage how you’re using your groceries.
Cons: None in the long run. We think you’ll thank us for this one!
Check out our 4-Week Gluten-Free Meal Plan.
How has the pandemic affected your gluten-free life? Where could you use more support?
This was 9 Ways to Live Gluten-Free During the Pandemic. Find out more about living gluten-free on our website!