How to Shop for Groceries When You Have Food Allergies

Living with food allergies can be challenging, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. With so many foods containing hidden allergens, it can be difficult to find safe and healthy options. However, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can shop for groceries with confidence. In this article, we'll discuss some tips and tricks for shopping for groceries when you have food allergies.

Plan Ahead

One of the most important things you can do when shopping for groceries with food allergies is to plan ahead. Before you head to the grocery store, take some time to plan your meals for the week. This will help you avoid impulse purchases and ensure that you have safe and healthy foods on hand. Make a list of the foods you need and stick to it.

When planning your meals, be sure to consider your food allergies. If you're allergic to peanuts, for example, you'll want to avoid foods that contain peanuts or peanut oil. If you're allergic to dairy, you'll want to look for dairy-free alternatives. Planning ahead can also help you save money by reducing food waste and avoiding unnecessary purchases.

Read Labels Carefully

When shopping for groceries with food allergies, reading labels is crucial. Look for foods that are free from the ingredients you're allergic to. Keep in mind that some foods may contain hidden allergens, so it's important to read the entire ingredient list.

If you're not sure whether a food is safe for you to eat, don't hesitate to ask a store employee for help. Many grocery stores have staff members who are trained to assist customers with food allergies. You can also use apps like Fooducate or the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) app to scan barcodes and get information about allergens.

Shop at Specialty Stores

If you have severe food allergies, you may want to consider shopping at specialty stores that cater to people with food allergies. These stores typically carry a wide range of allergen-free foods, including dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free options.

Shopping at a specialty store can be more expensive than shopping at a regular grocery store, but it can be worth it for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the foods you're buying are safe for you to eat. Some popular specialty stores include Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Sprouts Farmers Market.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Even if you're careful when shopping for groceries, there's always a risk of accidentally ingesting an allergen. That's why it's important to be prepared for emergencies.

Carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times, and make sure that your family members and friends know how to use it. If you have a severe food allergy, it's also a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that identifies your allergy. In case of an emergency, call 911 immediately.

Look for Allergen-Free Brands

Many food manufacturers now offer allergen-free versions of their products. Look for brands that specialize in allergen-free foods, such as Enjoy Life Foods, which offers a wide range of gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free products.

When trying a new allergen-free product, be sure to read the label carefully to make sure that it doesn't contain any other allergens that you're allergic to. Some popular allergen-free brands include So Delicious, Daiya, and Udi's.

Don't Be Afraid to Cook

Cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to ensure that the foods you're eating are safe and healthy. When you cook your own meals, you have complete control over the ingredients that you use.

If you're not comfortable in the kitchen, start with simple recipes and work your way up. There are many cookbooks and online resources available that cater to people with food allergies. Some popular resources include the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), Allergic Living, and Simply Gluten Free Magazine.


Shopping for groceries when you have food allergies can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. By planning ahead, reading labels carefully, shopping at specialty stores, being prepared for emergencies, looking for allergen-free brands, and cooking your own meals, you can shop for groceries with confidence. Remember to always put your health and safety first, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. With these tips, you can enjoy safe and healthy meals without the worry of allergic reactions.

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