The following post is a guest contribution from Money Crashers, your guide to financial fitness
One out of every five households currently has at least one member dealing with a food allergy. The most common allergen is milk, with eggs and peanuts slightly behind it.
Reactions to food allergens can range from skin rashes and wheezing to hives and anaphylaxis, which is life threatening. A loved one’s allergy can be difficult to work around, regardless of its degree of seriousness, and the first place you’re going to feel its bite is at the supermarket.
To help get you started shopping for an allergy-conscious household, check out the following five tips:
1. Eat More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Since the majority of food allergies center on dairy, gluten, nuts, and wheat, you can’t go wrong packing your diet with fresh fruits and veggies. Find a farmer’s market or local farm near you. The quality of the produce is often better than what you can find at national grocers and prices are significantly cheaper. If you want to be absolutely sure your family is eating is pesticide-free produce, you can always grow your own or take part in a community garden. The out-of-pocket cost is virtually nil and it’s a lot easier than you may think.
2. Buy in Bulk
Since your options are limited it’s important to keep your eye out for good deals and stock up on items you eat whenever they go on sale – especially since natural foods tend to be more expensive. If you notice a two-for-one offer or any other attractive discount, stock up and store your food properly in a cool, dark place or freeze it. If your bulk items are perishable, make sure you can eat them all before they expire.
3. Look for Printable Coupons
Many allergy-conscious manufacturers offer print-at-home coupons for products on their websites. Make a list of the brand names you buy most often, do some Internet searching, and snag those deals. I recently found coupon deals for the organic bakery Rudi’s, dairy-free manufacturer So Delicious, and the zero-calorie soda Zevia. To be sure you don’t miss anything, sign up for a coupon aggregator, such as Grocery Game or Savings Angel. You can also take part in extreme couponing by using the coupons during store sales for even more savings.
4. Use Deal-of-the-Day Websites
When dealing with food allergies, you’ve got to use everything in your arsenal to keep costs reined in. Using daily deal sites is a relatively new method at your fingertips. Sign up for email updates from the likes of Groupon, Living Social, and Woot – you just never know when something good is going to pop up. Whole Foods Market, for example, recently offered a 50%-off deal on its gift cards.
5. Research Restaurants
The last thing you want is to wait in line at a popular eatery, finally get seated, and only then find out the establishment is not allergen-conscious. Do an Internet search for places in your area that adapt their dishes to your specifications. If you’re unsure, ask to speak with a manager before you trek over. This may not save you much money, but it’s certainly going to save you time. If a loved one’s allergies are severe, you can never be too careful.
Foods allergies are a serious thing, and you simply cannot take them lightly – but you don’t have to spend a ton to accommodate them. Read all ingredient labels thoroughly, know what you’re buying, and look for every possible way to save. And of course, go to your doctor for regular checkups. In many cases, people outgrow their allergies, so stay on top of yours. Do your homework, shop diligently, and make your bank account a lot less allergic to grocery shopping.
What other ways are there to save when you have allergies in your family?