One of the hardest things about having to eat ‘free from’ is the devastating impact it has on your shopping bill. Many of the foods are three times the price of ‘normal’ foods. If you are like me, and decide to try and make as much as you can from scratch, you can still feel an impact as for some reason, even store cupboard staples such as tinned foods seem to be going up in price from week to week.
Since I have been back at work, the children have been going to after school club. When I collect them they are always so hungry that it is a bit of a challenge to get their dinner in front of them in the shortest possible time. One of the downsides of gluten free pasta is that it seems to have slightly longer cooking time than ‘normal’ pasta, and apart from the very expensive and not always available GF ‘Bob the Builder’ pasta, I have never discovered any ‘quick cook’ pasta – until this week.
I was in my local Waitrose, lurking around the chiller aisle trying to decide what to make for dinner. I decide to grab some garlic bread and that is when I spotted the Dell’ Ugo gluten free penne, sitting with all the other fresh pasta. Without thinking, or looking at the price I threw it in my trolley and headed to the checkout. Dinner sorted.
Most ‘celebrations’ or ‘holidays’ or gatherings or whatever you call them are a headache for the parent of an allergic child. None more so than Easter – because everywhere you look there are more cakes and chocolates and confections than ever just screaming at you to buy them.
Zac is very used to walking past the groaning supermarket shelves and pays them very little attention. It is a testament to his character that my child is probably one of the only four year olds in the country who can walk down the ‘sweetie’ aisle and cake aisle in the supermarket and remain totally unmoved and disinterested by what he sees there. He rushes past all the ‘normal’ stuff and head for his special place – no more than a few short shelves in our local supermarkets.
I am forever reading how porridge is such a great breakfast because of the health boosting, cholesterol lowering properties of oats etc but when you are living a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle you tend to think of a bowl of milky, sticky cereal as your worst nightmare.
However since I became aware of gluten free oats, and more familiar with the various dairy free milks, I decided it was time to face my fears and see if this could be made palatable, appealing and safe for my intolerant child. Certainly porridge was a favourite when I was weaning him, but in my experience most babies love all foods at that age, it is only once they get older, discover the word ‘no’, and in our case are given the cast iron excuse ‘but it might give me a tummy ache’ that you find yourselves getting less and less adventurous with food.
So it is a while since porridge has been on the menu, but as I am on this quest to find multiple safe breakfast options, I have to explore ‘oats’. Thankfully, the porridge making method was explained on the back of the packet. I got my gluten free oats from Waitrose, but I have also bought them from Sainsbury’s in the past – always in the free from sections and clearly marked – gluten free.
Just in case you hadn’t heard(haha) – it is snowing! I picked the children up from school early as I didn’t fancy a treacherous drive home later down some very icy, snowy country lanes. So here we are waiting for the snow to stop and trying to find things to do. As usual, my thoughts turned to food. I actually planned to get a delicious cassoulet ‘on’. But Sophia wanted to make biscuits. So we did that first.
Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know I am a very reluctant baker. I love cooking ‘dinners’ but I am a bit rubbish at baking cakes. I don’t like eating them that much and can be a bit slapdash and messy. But when you have one child with allergies and another looking for jobs on a snowy day, you have little choice but to put away your fears and get out the aprons.
Since Zac’s problems began I have been muddling through experimenting with my own recipes for various meals etc, but not being a confident baker I felt the need for some tried and tested recipes from an expert. So I ordered myself a copy of the Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick. I had first seen it in Waitrose for £20 and chose not to buy it, but when I saw it for sale on Lovelactosefreelife.co.uk for £12.99 I decided it was a bargain not to be missed.
It really is gourmet stuff and the recipes and photography are really beautiful. It also has lots of useful information about the replacement ingredients and lots of useful tips. Some of the recipes do have a lot of ingredients, and that often puts me off. I am a simple cook. Definitely not gourmet or greatly skilled. Mine is more simple home cooking, lots of flavour, minimal steps and little skill. But I needed a biscuit recipe and this book has one. It looks so simple so I decided to give it a go. I have tried it and blogged on it before, but this time I struggled with it even more than the first.
Today we were running low on ‘Zac foods’. Our local Tesco, seems to be stocking less and less in it’s Free From section at the moment and our Waitrose is not much better. Sainsbury’s has by far the widest stock on shelves and some brands I have not seen anywhere else. So despite sending Tom to the supermarket yesterday for a ‘big shop’, I still had to go today.
Here is the list of items I bought and how much they cost.
Natures Path Gluten Free ‘O’s – breakfast cereal £2.75
Doves Farm Gluten Free Stars – breakfast cereal £1.94
Free From Ciabatta – 2 x small bread rolls – £1.80
Free From Digestive biscuits – £1.50
Free From Chocolate Coins (for his Christmas stocking) – £1.49
Orgran Outback Animal biscuits – £2.99
Free From Rich Tea biscuits – £1.39
Small bag of Free From Pasta – £1.50
Dietary Specials Gluten Free breadsticks – £2.49
Alpro Creamy Peach Yoghurts pack of 2 pots – £1
Alpro Creamy Cherry Yoghurts pack of 2 pots – £1
Gluten Free/Dairy Free chocolate spread – £2.29
Free From Spaghetti – £1.50
Small loaf of Genius brown bread – £2.90
Free From White bread rolls pack of 2 – £0.63
So that is almost £30 spent on special foods. I know it looks like a lot of snack foods. He won’t consume these all in a week, remember not all stores stock everything, so I tend to load up when I see a bit of variety. I do limit his snacking but when you have a child who cannot eat dairy or gluten, snacking is tricky. Active 3 year olds are hungry a lot and need extra fuel – so I do let him have the odd biscuit.