The best range of Free From foods I have seen in ages – Sainsbury’s Milton Keynes Reply

I had to run to Milton Keynes today. Needed the bank and fancied a look around the shops. On the way out I remembered there is a large Sainsbury’s very nearby and decided to pop in – on the off chance they might have some Barkat ice cream cones. Best decision I made all week! More…

The true cost of the DF, GF ice cream cones – much more than £3 a box! 2

As we ran out of the much loved dairy free, gluten free ice cream cones several weeks ago, I decided to order some online this evening. I keep wasting my time and petrol driving all the way to our not so near Sainsbury’s and they never have them anymore.

I am a big fan of online shopping, particularly for groceries, so am not sure why I didn’t do it the minute we last ran out. Anyway, once the children were in bed, I got straight on the case and am still reeling from the shock. I had totally forgotten about delivery charges. It doesn’t feel so bad when you are charged £5 for a ‘big shop’, as it feels worth it just to have someone else pack it all and lug it to your front door, but when you are just ordering a few packets of biscuits etc it feels very wrong.

The first thing I did was run a search on the specific ice cream cone (Barkat Waffle Cones) that Zac loves and was happy to see they are quite widely available online – at most of the specialist retailers for food intolerants, so I thought I might do better there. I was staggered by the price, they now seem to be around the £4 a box mark with most of the retailers. Every time I have ever bought them in the supermarket they were around £3 and a high percentage were smashed to pieces, so it is a very high cost per cone!

So to make it worthwhile, I decided to see what else I could try that is new, to top up my basket. As most of you will know, the mainstream supermarkets do not stock a wide variety of gluten free, dairy free foods and I am on a mission to find some new biscuits, crackers and perhaps pasta shapes. I soon found some that looked good and were an ok price, mostly between £2 and £3 per pack – not cheap but the norm in ‘our world’.

So I had just over £12 worth of goods in my basket – ice cream cones, biscuits, crackers, pasta shapes and a chocolate muffin cake mix. It felt like a lot to spend but as these were mostly new products and I was curious to try them, I thought it was worth the order. It was only once I was several steps into the checkout process that the final total came up – £18.95 – they added a £6.50 delivery charge. My heart skipped a beat – and not in a good way.

Needless to say, that ended that transaction and so I pushed on to see where else I could find them. I found another well-known online retailer that carries a huge amount of gluten free and dairy free products and was happy to find them but they were at a slightly higher price. Same thing happened though, got right to the end and then got hit with the delivery charge – £4.75 this time. That is when I started to get so cross I had to stop.

I know that these suppliers have to pay large delivery costs and I know that the products are expensive to make or source or import but seriously, don’t they think we have been punished enough? And they don’t even taste good.

I also noticed that the ice cream cones are available on prescription through one of the large pharmacies. They charge nearly £5 a box for them. Why? If you can get them a pound cheaper in a supermarket, on the very rare day they appear on the shelves, why on earth would you waste your prescription on them? We are not eligible for a prescription because no-one seems to want to test Zac, but even if we had one, I think I would struggle to bring myself to use it, knowing that the prices were hiked so deliberately.

So now I am furious. It just feels that there is no way to feed my intolerant child without paying ridiculous amounts of money to pharmacists, logistics companies and greedy retailers. Clearly they are operating in a recession proof market. They know people need these foods and have no qualms about taking advantage.

I know I can and should make most foods for Zac. I do try but why should I be punished if I do choose to buy him an off the shelf biscuit! It is a nightmare at the moment. Despite this miserable weather our local ice cream van comes round every day. Zac is three and he knows what that jingle signifies and although he knows he can’t get one from the ‘man’ he asks me every day if he can have his special ice cream in a cone! I want to be able to say yes.

So now I am faced with the choice of spending over £5 delivery charge with the specialist retailers on cones that are already £3 or drive the twenty minutes to my local supermarket and face the possibility of an empty shelf. Even if I order them from Sainsbury’s online, I am still going to get hit with around £5 delivery charge and run the risk of them being smashed to pieces on the van.

It seems the only way to get a free delivery is to spend over £100 – easy enough done when you are being charged around three times more for many ‘free from’ food items.  I feel so angry, I can’t bring myself to decide right now. I just wish I could find a way around this. It is not right that this is happening. Rant over. Good night.

Ice cream cones – I know it is raining, but I still want them! 4

As the weather is so poor at home, we decided to head to the seaside for the rest of half term. My parents live in Christchurch, Dorset and seem to get better weather than us. We don’t have to bring too much of Zac’s special food with us, as there is a large Sainsbury’s close by and a Waitrose. Both usually stock a good range of free from foods and Mum is great at catering for Zac. But she had run out of his special dairy free, wheat free, gluten free ice cream cones and so had I.

The last time I managed to find any was at the Allergy Show last month. I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the Barkat stall and even more happy to find that they were selling them. Annoyingly, I didn’t have much cash on me so could only buy one box. And the nice weather last month caused us to run out – very quickly.

I have been to our local Sainsbury’s several times since and had no luck. So the first thing we did when we arrived in Christchurch was to run out and see if we could find them. Sadly, they had none on the shelves, and there wasn’t even a ‘space’ for them, so it doesn’t look like they have been selling them lately.

I expected not to find the ice cream cones on the supermarket shelves in winter, but I had expected them to have made a comeback by now. The dairy free ice cream is in the freezers all year round so it doesn’t make much sense. Also, I have only ever seen one brand – Barkat and I have only ever found them in Sainsbury’s.

I don’t understand why they are not in more supermarkets or why they are not on the shelves yet. I know the weather is poor but kids love ice cream all year round. If I had found them I would have bought several boxes and I am sure others would too. They are expensive and so the supermarkets are really missing a trick here.

It is easy enough to find the well known Askey’s ice cream cones and wafers all year round, so why not the free from versions? Also, I have looked carefully at the Askey’s cones and they have a worryingly long list of not very natural ingredients, and in my opinion don’t even taste that good. The Barkat cones that we love are in the style of a Belgian waffle cone and taste really good. It is not often that a ‘free from’ product is a better flavour or texture than a ‘normal’ one but these are great.

So today, I decided to have a look and see where else I can find them. Here are the sites. Please take a look and try them. Perhaps if enough of us try them and buy them we can help them convince more supermarkets to stock them. Definitely a product for all the family and not just the food intolerants among us.

http://www.glutenfree-foods.co.uk/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=barkat&tag=mh0a9-21&index=grocery&hvadid=461131476&ref=pd_sl_4z6y45hau2_e

http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/detail/301426_Barkat_Ice_Cream_Cones__12__60g.html

http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/groceries/index.jsp