Monday, October 15, 2012

Having Trouble Finding Nut-Free Items at the Supermarket? Online Resources to the Rescue

Zipping around to too many supermarkets in search of nut-free foods?
Online resources might be the answer.
Grocery shopping for a growing family takes up a fair amount of time, but shopping with specific food allergies in mind is even more time-consuming and often frustrating. Higher cost and limited accessibility to certain nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free or other "free from" foods can result in multiple shopping trips that might leave you empty-handed. It's true that foods specifically created to accommodate food allergies and intolerance are becoming more common in U.S. grocery stores, but they are still not readily accessible in many cities.

A recent trip to the Southwest to visit family, along with trips to a new and different supermarket in a completely different part of the country (I'm Chicago-based) got me thinking about the availability of peanut and tree nut allergy-friendly foods for all of us nut-free parents out there. I don't know about you, but it's not really worth it to travel to Whole Foods and use the gas money just to buy my favorite brand of nut-free trail mix that my kids love, only to discover that the store no longer even stocks it.

Now for the good news: Online retailers are increasingly meeting the needs of shoppers in quest of nut-free (and other free-from) foods.

Tasterie is service that has cropped up to meet the needs of food-allergic and intolerant customers. Created by a pediatrician and mother of kids with food allergies, this company sends you tailor-made boxes of allergy-friendly snacks and treats. Working with a nutritionist to keep things healthy as well as a peer board, this company takes the guesswork and legwork out of allergy-friendly shopping and the cost is surprisingly reasonable. If you are a busy parent--and who isn't--this could be a real time saver for you. Visit Tasterie's web site for more info.

Amazon is another convenient resource for allergy-friendly foods and baking items. Check Amazon to see if your favorite brands are offered and order in bulk to save money and time. I like to order my holiday baking supplies via Amazon -- it's easy and the delivery time is quick.

Of course, if you want certain items available at your local grocery stores, you can always ask your grocery manager to stock and/or order these items for you in bulk. You should be able to save money if you buy non-perishables in bulk. Asking your local grocery to stock certain items is a good idea because unless you ask, they won't necessarily know that these items are in demand. Customer demand brought 4 varieties of SunButter sunflower seed spread to my local grocery shelves, along with Enjoy Life Foods granola and Boom Choco Boom bars, among other items.

In fact, customer demand has brought nut-free cookie company Skeeter Snacks to many store shelves including Costco. Currently, you can also find Divvies nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free treats at Wegmans and other select grocery stores.  Of course, you can also order these treats online (click the links to visit their company websites) but when you can just swing by the store for your nut-free treats, that is a huge convenience.

Reading grocery labels can be confusing, too, so I devoted an entire section on how to decipher food labels and deal with customer service concerns in my e-book, The New Nut-Free Mom. Click the link for more information on the e-book and how to get it.

How do you find nut-free or other free-from treats and snacks? At the store? Online? What works best for you?


Patty said...

Is there a source for allergy friendly non-GMO foods? Unfortunately I am learning that foods free of allergens are not necessarily healthy or unprocessed.

Jenny said...

Hi Patty,

Not that I know of, but I can tell you, based on my extensive writing about allergy-friendly foods for both this blog and for magazines is that many of food allergy-friendly companies are non-GMO and take that into account. One example is Home Free Treats but there are many others.

Allergy-friendly and "safe" for a child with a life-threatening allergy is a separate issue from a list of "healthy" or "unprocessed" foods. They are both important but two separate areas. For those with life-threatening nut allergies the first consideration is always going to be what it contains or may contain so as to prevent a life-threatening allergic reaction.

I like to offer fresh fruits and vegetables as unprocessed sources of snacks.

Good luck in your search!

Robin Simons said...

peanut free planet seems to be down.

Jenny said...

Thanks Robin, I just learned of this recently. I'll fix the post. It's a shame -- that was a great resource.