How To Navigate Eating Safely When Safe Brands Are Unavailable

When Safe Brands Are Unavailable by The Allergy Chef

People with restricted diets have brands that they know to be safe. In the case of Celiac Disease (and Food Allergies) a brand may be deemed safe because the food is not made on shared equipment with what the person avoids. For example, more than 40% of the food labeled as Gluten Free and/or Certified Gluten Free in the United Sates is made on shared equipment with wheat. While this is acceptable for some, it’s not for all.

Related: The Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Product Guide

Convenience foods may longer be an option for people with restricted diets.

With that in mind, focus on safe raw materials and cook and bake at home. In the case of Celiac Disease, gluten free flours such as millet, sorghum, rice, cassava, and arrowroot can all be used for cooking and baking at home.

Many of you reading also avoid dairy. If you’re able to purchase a range of plant based milk, that will help balance flavors and nutrition. For those of you who are unable to consume products made on shared equipment with what you’re allergic to, you may need to make milk at home. Be sure to purchase a nut milk bag if you don’t have one already.

Hidden Sources of Dairy by The Allergy Chef Related Article: Hidden Sources of Dairy

Fresh produce should also be at the top of the shopping list. A farmer’s market may be a better route if your normal stores are running low. Fermented foods and beverages can also be a good purchase. Both produce and fermented foods not only add a LOT of flavor to your meals, but they can also help support your immune system.

While products in cans and jars are hard to find, people with a restricted diet will need to continue to look. Tomato products, legumes, and canned vegetables are all excellent to have on hand.

Don’t forget to check the freezer section for safe options. We’ve been able to find plenty of safe frozen fruits and vegetables from brands we love and trust.

Organic Frozen Vegetables by The Allergy Chef Related Article: What To Make With Frozen Vegetables

Plan In Advance

People with restricted diets should be planning in advance. Given the state of the world, a detailed menu plan for the next several weeks should be created before shopping. The meal plan should include foods that freeze well such as chili. Make sure your plan accounts for snacks and desserts too, especially if you have children.

When planning, take into account what you’ll need 3 – 6 weeks from now as well. We are taking the stance that you should reorder your staple ingredients when your pantry stock is at 50%. In our home, we normally go as low as 10% before reordering, but right now, you’ll need to take back-orders and slower shipping times into account.

Seven Super Easy Meal Ideas by The Allergy Chef Related Article: Seven Super Easy & Versatile Meal Ideas

More Ways To Stock Your Favorite Brands

Call the brand and ask about stores in your area that may have received a shipment recently. I have been SHOCKED at times to learn which stores some of our fave brands are at. Note: Some brands are unable to be this specific, and some brands have real-time store locators on their website.

Reach out to brands on social media. Some brands respond faster to their DMs and tweets than emails and phone calls. Reach out anyway you can to get in touch with them.

Talk to the buyer at a store you frequent. Explain your situation and ask for a case order. Offer to pre-pay so they know you’re not a flake.

Know the delivery schedule of stores that you frequent, and show up early. We personally know when our two favorite stores receive shipments from the distributors that carry our brands. We plan our shopping days around this information, and show up at least an hour before the store opens.

Continue to check allergy friendly online retailers for products that are safe for you. Where possible, sign up for product availability notifications. Three retailers online that we like are Gluten Free Mall, Thrive Market, and VitaCost. The Butcher Box website is a good option if you’re looking for meat.

Plan To Batch Cook & Freeze

In my humble opinion, batch cooking and freezing is a core part of what it means to be a person who has a restricted diet. When options are limited from the start, there’s a good chance you’re cooking and baking all of your food at home for the sake of safety. Now, who really wants to do that every single day? I sure don’t.

Did you know we have 6 gluten free, allergy friendly cookbooks? Learn more here.

With that in mind, we take the stance that batch cooking and freezing should be a part of your kitchen life (unless space prohibits this). Make sure that you have planned to batch cook your favorite meals when ordering and shopping for your safe brands.

Know That This Will Pass

I know times are tough right now, and it can be scary to live thru a time where the world seems to be falling apart. Know that in time this will pass. Where your safe brands are concerned, for the most part, there is NO food shortage. The issue lies with sudden & extreme high demand along with lack of logistics. The example I like to give people: Christmas came overnight.

Stores and brands were unable to plan ahead like they normally would for a busy season. It means that whilst they play catch-up, those of us with restricted diets will have to work harder to get our safe brands.

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