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While a burst of gluten-free products have been appearing on grocery store shelves over recent years, it can still be difficult to decide where to start in building up your first gluten-free pantry. Having a good selection of gluten-free items on hand can help make meal preparation relatively easy, and remove some of the uncertainty in making food choices. Here are some suggestions to get you started on stocking-up your pantry. There are many options to pick and choose foods you prefer, and there is plenty of room to grow once you become more comfortable with your gluten-free diet.
Preparing the pantry and preventing cross-contamination
Before going to the grocery store, take some time to consider your kitchen and pantry layout. Will the entire kitchen be gluten-free, or will it be a shared space? If it is a shared kitchen, purchasing sealed containers and storing gluten-free foods above those which contain gluten can help prevent cross-contamination. Whether or not it will be an entirely gluten-free kitchen, it is important to give your pantry a thorough cleaning to remove crumbs or traces of any gluten containing items.
Take stock of your unique approach to cooking and eating
Before setting off to shop for your new pantry, take the time to ask yourself some questions. Giving some thought to these things in advance will help guide your gluten-free shopping so that your pantry and kitchen are truly suited to you.
- What sorts of things do you regularly like to eat? Are you willing to try new foods or products, or are you more interested in choosing gluten-free versions of the same foods you used to consume? What is your budget and how much time do you have to prepare meals? Do you want to cook from scratch or would you prefer more convenience foods?
Making educated selections
Reading labels for gluten-free status is essential, and includes looking for certified gluten-free logos, choosing “gluten-free” labeled foods, and reading ingredient lists. Review “3 Tips for Gluten-Free Label Reading” here: www.gluten.org/resources/getting-started/label-reading
Strive to include plenty of naturally nutritious gluten-free foods including vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, nuts, and seeds. When choosing dairy products, meats and poultry, prefer low fat and lean options. Opt for gluten-free whole grains (instead of refined) often. Be cautious when choosing meats or poultry that are marinated or have seasonings or broth added, as these ingredients could contain gluten.
Learn to shop smart and get the biggest bang for your buck. For example, fresh produce is naturally gluten-free, and, like most unprocessed foods, contains high levels of naturally occurring nutrients. However, while basic frozen and canned produce is processed, most is processed at the height of the fruit or vegetable’s ripeness, and provide a less expensive alternative to out of season produce, and a longer shelf life.
Although purchasing things from bulk bins can be convenient, the risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing products is high. As a result, any item in a bulk bin is considered risky and should be avoided.
The following is a list of suggested items that can get your gluten-free pantry off to a good start. Pick those you enjoy and add others to make a list that suits your lifestyle. Bon Appétit!