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The balancing act of grocery shopping

This article comes to us from The Star Tribune.com, and addresses an important issue for every household today.

Author Credit: Liza Schwab

Today’s blog came to me as I was making my weekly grocery list.  As a mom with not just 4 children but, 4 children with food issues, grocery shopping isn’t an easy task.  I have 3 children(plus a husband) who can’t do any dairy products, I have 3 children who can’t do any wheat products, and I can’t (or shouldn’t) eat sugar.   Add to that a son with Asperger’s who can only eat Organic fruits and veggies, Organic/free range meats, and no chemicals, preservatives, food colorings, soy, wheat/gluten, dairy/casein, sugar, or eggs and you have quite the interesting grocery list each week.

Not only do I have to be a very creative chef, after all, I am cooking dinner nightly for 6 people that all seem to have differently likes and dislikes and 4 of those people are children.  I am also usually shopping at 3-5 different grocery stores to find the foods my family can eat.  I also need to figure out how to do it all without coupons(as you rarely find coupons for organic, free range, or wheat free/dairy free items.) and without going over budget.  You would all cringe if you knew my monthly grocery bills, they are truly insane!

Not only are my lists long and descriptive, many of my cookbooks are now obsolete and I am fending for myself in cooking many of my meals.  Our family’s motto is, “If God made it, you can eat it.” That is how my children know if it is something they can eat or not.  Or course, they haven’t figured out that God didn’t make Hemp milk, Soy Milk, or rice cheese yet but, hey I am doing the best I can here.

My favorite question I get from people is, “What DO you eat?!”  Well, we eat pretty much the same things everyone else does but, I prepare ALL of it.   No boxed dinners, no takeout pizza, no fast food and no candy.   All of my recipes I have created or substituted ingredients as needed.  We still have pancakes, homemade bread, pasta, homemade pizza and mac and cheese.  The only difference is I make all of it from scratch and our ingredients are different.  We use gluten free/wheat free flour, Xantham gum(is our best friend for baking), egg replacer, soy or hemp milk(depending on if my son is eating it or not), blue agave(for sugar), organic rice pasta, and rice cheese just to mention a few.

The hardest part isn’t finding what the children can eat, it is finding the stores that carry what they can eat.  We go to Whole Foods in Uptown for our soy free/dairy free butter, hemp milk, rice cheese, Clif Organic/100% fruit snacks(for son’s lunches), and various fruits and veggies(all organic), they also are the only place I can find that sells the large multipacks of Silk chocolate soy milk in single serve for my daughter’s lunch!  I  head to Trader Joe’s in St. Louis Park to get our Organic rice pasta, rice noodle bowls(they are $.99 each compared to $2-3+ other places), Organic/100% fruit strips, 100% pure maple syrup.   I visit Costco(either SLP or EP)for our Organic/free range fryer chickens, Organic/free range chicken breasts, and Organic Blue Agave.  I then go to my store next door (truly is almost right next door) Cub in Edina for things like Organic salsa(they carry a brand that has no sugar in it), Organic tortilla chips, basics like brown rice, nitrate free bacon/pepperoni, soy yogurt and of course, Organic fruits and veggies.  Or there is also Super Target in Edina that carries the girls favorite wheat free donuts and nitrate free ham.  Last but, not least is our milkman, yes we have a milk man, he brings us our soy milk, eggs(for everyone but my son and I) and our OJ.    I know I could buy the soymilk anywhere but, after running to 3, 4, or 5 different grocery stores each week, it is nice just knowing someone is dropping off milk, eggs, and juice on my front step each week without fail.

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