As you continue to plan menus and shop for gluten-free items, you may miss certain foods that contain gluten or feel deprived. This is a great time to make use of gluten-free products made by Glutino, Pamela's, Bob's Red Mill, and other labeled gluten-free products. These product lines offer pasta, bread, cookies, pretzels, and cereals. Be sure to read labels on gluten-free products as well. Some are made from whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice, which are great sources of fiber. I suggest that you avoid stocking up on a gluten-free product until you've tried it; however, once you've decided that you like the product, feel free to stock up from sites like glutenfreemall.com or amazon.com. I have found that each grocery store stocks different items that I use as mainstays. Rather than visit three stores every week, I stock up when I see a particular product that I know isn't carried at other stores.
There are an increasing number of frozen dinners which are gluten-free. Amy's frozen dinners are found at most mainstream stores, and several dinners are labeled as "no gluten ingredients." Amy's also offers a rice crust pizza and rice macaroni and cheese.
Gluten-free products are often more expensive than regular products. If you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease, save your grocery receipts since the difference in price between a gluten-free item and a regular equivalent is tax deductible. To control your grocery costs, rely most on whole foods such as plain meats and vegetables. Another great way to keep your costs down and plan your meals is to cook large meals (such as a tray of gluten-free lasagna) and portion them into individual storage containers in the freezer. This will allow you to grab a homemade dinner for lunch at work or to take to a restaurant when you eat out with friends. I purchase divided storage containers and fill the larger side with a frozen vegetable, fill the smaller side with leftover pasta, freeze it, and microwave the entire container for 10 minutes at the office.
As you get more experience with shopping gluten-free, you may be tempted to stop reading labels. However, it is essential to continue reading labels, since ingredients and manufacturing processes may change. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have a gluten-free product list, which you can ask for at the customer service desk. If you use gluten-free product lists available on the internet, you must check the date that the item was verified. If it has been several years since the item was checked, it is your responsibility to verify the information. A new book called Cecelia's Marketplace Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping Guide is available on Amazon.com and is updated frequently. This book lists products by brand name, and is a great resource to take with you to the store.
As you learn which products are safe for you, grocery shopping will become faster and less stressful. Meal planning and sticking to grocery lists will help make shopping and cooking as easy as possible.