Gluten Free for Three Months: Week 4 Where to Shop? plus recipe

By Barbara Evangelista, Publisher January 30, 2019

Our gluten-free experiment continues...  My 14 year old daughter and I have been eating gluten free since January 1st.  Thankfully, we're not dealing with celiac disease but instead we're testing to see if eliminating gluten will help with some skin issues and an auto-immune disorder.  So far, our results are good!  The winter eczema that I have had for the last 15+ years has pretty much gone away, and the skin problems that my daughter's auto-immune disorder causes look much better to me.  I feel energetic and healthy, although my insomnia is ongoing.  My daughter is tired but I don't think this is diet-related, just normal teen exhaustion.  It seems like they could sleep the clock round some days and it still wouldn't be enough.

The diet is surprisingly easy to follow and there are lots of gluten free foods available now at most grocery stores.  There are fewer choices at restaurants.  I went to a local sandwich shop with my family for lunch the other day, and they had no gluten free items at all; the counter person (a teenager) didn't really understand what gluten was. Not a huge issue since a little bit of gluten isn't a big deal for me (but certainly a person with celiac disease couldn't eat there); I just ordered a Greek salad with grilled chicken, hold the pita and the croutons.  We were celebrating a birthday, and I was able to "just say no" easily to the cake and sweets (yay!).

So, where do you find gluten free products at the best prices?  I checked out the gluten free offerings at Whole Foods, Stop and Shop and Wegmans this week as well as the Market Basket where I normally shop.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time to get to Hannafords but will try to go this weekend and update this article.  Here's my rundown:

  • Huge kudos to Market Basket for making it really easy to find gluten free foods.  Just look at the price tag on the shelf under any product.  If there's a green oval that says "GLUTEN FREE", then you know it's fine. (Some products that are actually gluten free according to the ingredients list but aren't specifically labeled "gluten free" by the manufacturer anywhere on the label do not have the green oval on the label. You'll need to check the ingredients.)  You'll find all the frozen bread/bagel/pizza crust/muffin products together in one freezer section (in my Westford store, it's an end cap freezer but I'm not sure that's the same for all Market Baskets).  Other non-frozen gluten free products are generally found placed right within their own product section; in other words, GF crackers will be found right in with other crackers, GF cookies will be in the cookie section.  There is a large Bob's Red Mill display in the spices/flour aisle that will have all of the gluten free flours/starches that you need to bake gluten free at home, including tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, teff flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, etc.  And, needless to say, Market Basket has the best prices by far on gluten free products of all the stores I looked at.  GF crackers that were $2 or $2.50 at Market Basket were $3.79 elsewhere.  Udi's frozen GF bread that was $3.99 at Market Basket was $5.99 elsewhere.
  • I really thought Whole Foods would have fantastic gluten free options but I left feeling kind of "meh".  They have no stickers or markers on their price tags to indicate what's GF, so you have to hunt through every section.  I did find GF taco dinner kits but I couldn't rationalize it for $6.99 (I'd rather just buy a bag of GF tortilla chips -- most are -- which will make enough nachos to feed my nacho-loving family for much less.)  They had some brands of GF crackers and cookies that I hadn't seen before but at $3.79, $4.99 and even higher, I would definitely think hard before buying.  They did have a number of cake mixes and flour mixes by companies like Pamelas and Cherrybrook Kitchen that would be worth trying. The freezer section has all the expected frozen loaves of bread and bagels by Udis, Rudis, etc. but also frozen birthday cakes and cupcakes, which is a great resource. I bought a really nice loaf of frozen Whole Foods GF sandwich bread that looked like regular bread, instead of the normal tiny and dense slices you find in an Udi's loaf.
  • Stop and Shop has a separate gluten free section which has pastas, crackers, cookies, and mixes.  They also have GF options in the regular pasta and cracker sections, too.  Essentially, the big brand names (Ronzoni, Barilla) are found in the main section, while the small labels (Enjoy Life, Cherrybrook Kitchen, Pamelas) are found in the GF section.  Prices are similar to Whole Foods.  Nature's Promise, the Stop and Shop generic "natural food" line, also has some GF products that are less expensive.  They do have a special mark on the price tags, but it's very hard to see and isn't on all GF products.  One weird thing I noticed at Stop and Shop (and also Whole Foods, strangely) is that the specialty gluten free products are shelved right next to small label whole wheat or "artisan grain" products.  That makes no sense to me.  Gluten free means no wheat -- why mix specialty wheat products in with GF ones?  
  • Wegmans...what can I say.  What an absolute zoo.  (It didn't help that I went on a Sunday afternoon.)  It's the biggest grocery store I've ever seen, yet the actual grocery section is rather small.  The Market Cafe and prepared food section is the size of a basketball court though, and they did have some GF cafe items in the hot food area, which was great.  Gluten free products are all together in one aisle and in one freezer section.  They had some unusual specialty labels that I hadn't seen elsewhere, GF Wegmans products, and some great items like fruit & grain bars (similar to Nutrigrain), pie crust, GF frosting, GF Brownie Brittle, frozen GF donuts (donuts are my downfall but I resisted!), and more. I found a really nice loaf of fresh GF bread by La Brea Bakery in the fresh bakery section -- unusual, since most GF bread is frozen.  It was expensive though and the label said it was made in a bakery where they use nuts, milk, soy and wheat, so it wouldn't work for people with celiac disease.

One item that I happily discovered in several stores were GF chocolate cream cookies (i.e., Oreo equivalents).  I ended up buying two different brands, and then my husband brought home a third brand later, so we all did a taste test.  All were quite good, but the Stop & Shop Nature's Promise brand, while the least expensive, really didn't have a great texture.  The top ingredient (after sugar) was tapioca starch, and this tends to lead to a very grainy and crumbly product.  We all found those cookies to be sort of sandy in texture.  The Goodie Girl cookies ("Goodness never tasted so naughty!") were our top choice, followed by Kinnikinnick KinniToos.  Both were great Oreo substitutes.

Phew, this has gotten really long.  I won't list our meals this week because we did a lot of "breakfast for dinner", leftovers and frozen items -- it was one of those weeks.  I did make Sloppy Joes (with GF hot dog rolls) and this very good Skillet Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables recipe this week.

Oh, and I made a loaf of GF bread from a King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Bread & Pizza mix, available at most stores.  Never again.  It was horrendous.  Stay away, far far away.

Skillet Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

(inspired by an eMeals recipe)


3 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into 2" x 2" pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 10 oz bag shredded carrots
2 zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/2 cup GF Greek vinaigrette dressing
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat oil in a large skillet on high heat, and cook chicken for about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken and set aside.
  2. Add vegetables to skillet and saute for 5-8 minutes until crisp-tender.  Remove from skillet.
  3. Add dressing, honey, vinegar and red pepper and boil briefly until reduced.  Add chicken and vegetables back to skillet, stir to cover with sauce, and cook for 2 or more minutes until thoroughly heated and chicken is completely cooked.  Add tomatoes and feta and serve with white rice.

Week 1 article and recipes

Week 2 article and recipes

Week 3 article and recipes

Wondering where I get my meal ideas?  I use some cookbooks but mostly choose and modify recipes from my weekly Emeals meal plan that includes 6 different gluten-free recipes every week. They have 14 different meal plans to choose from, and you can switch meal plans at any time without an extra charge.  I've been on both the Quick and Healthy Meal Plan and the Gluten Free Meal Plan, and they're both great!  Use this link to get a free two-week trial.

Lowell Macaroni Kid is a free weekly newsletter and website focused on fun family events and information in the greater Lowell area.
We gather together all kinds of local family events and activities each week, and add useful information about classes, family-focused businesses, book and product reviews, recipes, crafts, school and camp guides and more. We proudly serve 9,500+ families in Lowell, Dracut, Chelmsford, Westford, Tyngsboro, Dunstable, Littleton, Groton, Billerica, Tewksbury, and other surrounding communities. 

Subscribe today to receive our email newsletter every Wednesday!