How to Shop for Dairy-Free Alternatives - dummies

How to Shop for Dairy-Free Alternatives

By Suzanne Havala Hobbs

Having a dairy-free shopping plan before you set foot in the grocery store is a smart move. If you plan ahead, you’re more likely to have on hand a variety of ingredients for fixing nutritious nondairy meals that you and your family will love. You’re less likely to forget critical ingredients, too.

Eating dairy-free can be a completely healthful way to live, but you also want to make sure that whatever diet you eat is as health-supporting as it can be. After all, chips and soft drinks are dairy-free, but they don’t make for a very healthful diet! As you craft your shopping plan, think about your overall nutritional goals and needs. After you have a plan, you can draft your shopping list.

Planning your menu in advance also can save you time and money. After all, who wants to plan and shop for dinner after a hard days’ work? Not many people. And, in this situation, many folks end up going out to eat for convenience’s sake.

Specialty products such as nondairy milks and cheeses and dairy-free substitutes for cream cheese and yogurt often cost more than their dairy counterparts. These products don’t have to break your budget. You can minimize added expenses for specialty products by shopping for and using these foods strategically.

You can keep in mind several helpful steps to save you money and still allow you to enjoy some of the convenience foods that make it easier to live dairy-free. Buying in bulk, comparison shopping, sharing groceries with dairy-free friends and family members and using coupons save money, but they require some planning.

Make it a practice to stop in at different stores from time to time so you can keep tabs on which stores have the best prices for the products you like to buy. Making written notes of prices and quantities can be helpful; mental notes often get lost in the shuffle of daily life.

Consider typing and printing a list of foods that you use on a regular basis and buy often. Keep a copy in a convenient spot, and circle or mark the foods you need before your next shopping trip. Seeing the items pre-listed may help you remember to buy items that you’re low on. And be sure to keep your list in a place that’s easy to see when you want to add to it. The refrigerator door, a desk in the kitchen, and the inside of a kitchen cupboard door (one that’s opened frequently!) are good places to keep your list.