Once I realized that I had to be gluten free (as well as lactose free), I began what shall be referred to as The Great Purge.
Every label was read. I even checked the labels of my cans of vegetables. Just to be safe. I learned a lot about not assuming a food's ingredients this past year. I would take a can of soup to work as an "emergency lunch" for days when I was too lazy to cook or pull something out of the freezer. I was about to open the soup when I noticed milk was an ingredient in vegetable soup. Frustrated, I handed the soup to one of my co-workers and had to go buy a new lunch.
Systematically, I read EVERYTHING. I knew that my gluten free days could be approaching, so I went a few weeks without restocking my dwindling groceries. Everything with gluten went on an end table. I was hoping it would only be a few things - the cookies, crackers, and noodles. I was surprised that some of my stir-fry sauces and Campbell's condensed soup contain wheat.
My greatest find was a box of Rice Chex - clearly labeled "Gluten-Free" that was sitting on top of my refrigerator. Back in November, I bought the cereal with every intention of making a batch of puppy chow but then my energy level sank and I was cooking only to eat to survive - not eat to enjoy. So I grabbed the box of cereal and was thankful to have a crunchy snack already at my fingertips.
So what was I to do with all this food that made me violently ill? I invited my gluten-loving friend to come over and help himself. I still have some gluten food in my freezer - frozen chocolate chip cookies ready for the oven, (nondairy) ice cream sandwiches, breaded chicken, and probably 3 pounds of my delicious homemade meatballs with breadcrumbs. Now when he comes over, he has a ready supply of food so I can make my (expensive) food last longer.
With bare cabinets and a recently reorganized fridge and freezer, I set out to restock my pantry. I cheated by going to the suburbs. I really wanted this blog to showcase how great and easy to find everything is in Chicago, but the cheaper prices and lower taxes are worth it. My first full gluten-free shopping trip took over an hour and a half. My mom and I kept reading labels and putting things back on the shelf. We strictly shopped for non-perishable items on Saturday. Our focus was on the cereal, rice, Asian, and gluten-free aisles. Yes, there was an entire section dedicated organic, gluten-free, and other specialty food items! Thank you, Woodman's!! My birthday is at the end of this month, so my biggest concern was having delicious baked goods - like brownies and chocolate cake. I bought mixes and will be crossing my fingers that the food is delicious and worth the price! Today, finished my shopping spree with a few other missed specialty items, like unflavored gelatin and cornstarch, and lots of fruits, veggies, and meat. Grand total was 101 items for $253.41. (I was expecting to spend $250.00 - I'm good!) The cheapest item was two bulbs of garlic for $0.55 and my most expensive item was Xanthum Gum for $12.89. All the speciality flours, egg replacers, and mixes hijacked a normally inexpensive trip. (On average, I was spending under $75.00 at the grocery store to maintain my pantry.)
And so I begin cooking lactose and gluten free in Chicago! I bought a 10-quart pot and an 8" chef's knife (which I don't think will fit in my apartment...) as well. Let the cooking begin!
Oh, and there's more food that isn't pictured - both phots are of my non-perishables only. Almost a dozen pounds of meat and plenty of fruits and vegetables are being saved from the summer heat in my refrigerator. And the juices and sodas I bought? Not that exciting.