With gluten free product lists scattered here and there, you may find yourself piling up bookmarks, clippings and notes on the back of receipts as you figure out how to live gluten-free. You can help yourself put it all together by starting your own guidebook for shopping.
For a pen and paper version, pick up a phone and address book with alphabetized tabs from an
office supply store. Try to get one
without the entry labels that say "phone, e-mail" etc., but you can
ignore them if that's the only kind available.
You can use the
alphabetized tabs to sort items. I prefer to sort by item type (i.e. C
for Cheese) but think about what makes sense to you. If you'd rather
look under S for Sargento instead, go with your own system! Write down
the brand, specific type or flavor if not all are gluten-free, where it
is available (name of store or website) and where you found
the gluten-free information (online, package label, phone number).
products when the packaging changes or at least once per year.
this system can quickly get out of hand if you try to include every
gluten-free product ever made. Since this is a personal guide, try to
restrict it to items you personally buy or use, with maybe one backup
brand in case your favorite is out of stock. It will make for much
faster reference in the store. You can even use it while making your
shopping list, specifying brand and flavor on the list itself for a
quicker trip to the store.
You can, of course, organize this
electronically if you prefer. A spreadsheet program like Excel or Open
Office's Calc program allows you to create multiple categories to search
for items. I would recommend starting with the following layout:
A is where the product is available to you. This can be "online", or
the name of a store. Some items will only be in specialty health food
stores, others will be available at your favorite grocery store.
Column B is for the area of the store (e.g. frozen, deli, produce, baking, dairy, etc.)
Column C is the general type of item (cheese, oil, dressing, veggie)
Column D is the specific item (Pepperoni, Mozzerella)
Column E is the brand and specific type, if not all types are gluten-free (i.e. Edy's: Chocolate, pistachio, mint chip flavors)
F is where you found the information. If the item is labeled
gluten-free, enter "labeled". Otherwise list a website or phone number
you used to verify the gluten-free status. This is important, because
every time the packaging changes (a possible sign of reformulation) or
at least once per year, you should re-verify the gluten status of
items. Companies will not announce that they suddenly introduced cross
contamination in their manufacturing; your first clue is when you get
sick. So keep your information current!
So now you have
your own gluten-free shopping guide. Make sure you make an entry when
you buy something new (or see something you want to buy) in order to
keep it useful.