It’s been almost 4 years now since my son was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which is a condition that causes your body to respond to a specific food or environmental trigger in a negative way and for my son it was dairy. As much as we were happy to know what the trigger was , and so blessed that it wasn’t a whole list of foods, which some children do have. It was still a change and a BIG one, so I thought at the time.
Where To Start Shopping and What To Buy
When you first start out on your dairy free journey , some may look for all the food labels that read dairy free or vegan , and I was the same! BUT if you really look at a lot of the options that are out in the stores, the ingredients are not so healthy and EXPENSIVE. So what do you do when you can’t have dairy? Well, after lots of research and trial and error recipes, I found that it’s not hard at all to make the same meals and recipes that you have been making before you even went dairy free and I am going to show you how and give you a shopping list to get you started.
Rolled Oats- Organic is better when it comes to oats as oats can be heavily sprayed with chemicals. Oats can be used for so many recipes and baked goods.
Flour- there are so many healthy options to choose from. Avoiding white flour and sticking with more whole grains like whole wheat, oat, spelt or einkorn. If you get a grain mill ( which does not have to be expensive) you can get large bags of wheat berries and grind your own. (I prefer einkorn). There are so many baked goods you can make homemade that are dairy free, healthier and more budget friendly.
Dried Beans- dried beans are so handy to have on hand and can be so hearty in soups and stews. Canned beans are a good way to stock your pantry too, if you prefer can over dried. ( I use both).
Whole grain rice- basmati and jasmine rice (I prefer organic) as rice is a heavily sprayed grain. Rice is dairy free and can be used as a staple for many dishes, like Chicken and Rice and healthy stir fry’s.
Homemade Granola- granola is so easy to make and can be stored in a big mason jar for cereal and snacking. healthy-homemade-granola-dairy-free
Cereals – There are many organic healthy cereals on the market that are dairy free. We use the 3 ingredient rule, no more than 3 ingredients and healthy ingredients.
Nuts. raisins and seeds- nuts and seeds are packed with protein and nutrients and can be added to so many dishes. We love pumpkin and sunflower seeds and add raisins to our oatmeal for a warm snack or breakfast. These also can be stored in a mason jar in the pantry .
Bananas- Big staple in our home, we buy tons of these weekly. Bananas are packed with nutrition and can be used for so many baled goods and smoothies. Peal , cut and store in freezer container to make homemade ice cream YUM!
Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and onions can all be pantry staples. We have a big bin for potatoes and store onions in a wire basket.
Having these staples on hand make a good base for many meals and healthy choices. Some organic items can cost more than non organic items, but when you are not spending your grocery budget on processed food or dairy products, I find it is actually less expensive.
Healthy Oils- Keeping healthy oils are an important part of a dairy free diet. Olive oil is a healthy oil that can be used for dressings, drizzled on breads and roasted vegetables ( olive oil should not be used for cooking temperature over 400), avocado oil and coconut oil are a nice cooking and baking oil , coconut oil is a BIG staple in our dairy free home and used for EVERYTHING.
Canned unsweetened coconut milk is also a BIG staple in our home for smoothies, ice cream , cream based soups and creamy dishes,
Stocking A Dairy Free Fridge and Freezer
When stocking a dairy free fridge and freezer , there is more than you think that you can stock up on that is dairy free.
Dairy free yogurt- there are so many options out there for dairy free yogurts BUT making sure you read the ingredients are so important. So may yogurts are filled with lots of sugar and fillers. I try to stick with plain yogurts that can be also used for dips, dressings and added to creamy dishes. I prefer the coconut based yogurts.
Dairy free milks- Dairy free milk is another staple for the fridge. Depending on what kind you get , some are shelf stable as well. Many plant based milks can be homemade and stored in the fridge and even shelf stable dairy free milks need to be kept cool after opening. So many varieties like nut milks, oat milks and pea protein, AGAIN, always look at ingredients, some dairy free milks can be packed with fillers.
Natural nut butters- Natural nut butter is a great way to add protein and nutrition to your meals and snacks and great in smoothies and homemade ice cream. Nut butter on wholegrain toast with sliced bananas are super YUMMY and so nutritious too!
Eggs- did you know eggs are dairy free? So many people think eggs are dairy. Nope, they are not. They are a great protein source and finding local eggs are even better.
Pure maple syrup- huge staple in our dairy free home. This is a nice way to sweeten up your baked goods without using sugar. We rarely , if ever use sugar in our home, Maple syrup is used for so many things , like muffins, cakes, cookies, barbeque sauces and of course our homemade waffles and pancakes . We go through lots of maple syrup.
Produce- most of our fridge is full of produce. Once a week I pre cut and wash carrot and celery sticks and store in glass jars with a little water. Fresh greens and peppers in our produce drawer. Fresh mushrooms are kept in the fridge as well. Fresh apples and grapes in the crisper.
Condiments- Most condiments are dairy free BUT always check labels. Some are not. Try to make homemade when you can. Always look at dressings and sauces , they are not always dairy free.
Frozen fruit- YES, you can freeze a lot of berries in the summer and enjoy them all year around. Many good organic fruits are frozen and perfect for smoothies. We stock up in the summer but when we run out , we purchase good organic frozen fruit.
Frozen vegetables- If you grow a garden in the summer, fill the freezer with vegetables. freezing is a great way for vegetables to retain their nutrition. Buying good organic frozen vegetables and stocking up the freezer is a good way to add nutrition to our meals.
Meats- Most meats are dairy free , but BE careful with processed meats that add fillers that could contain dairy ingredients. Not everyone can buy local meats, but if you can than that is ideal. We buy our meat from a local farmer and we find the prices are not any more expensive,
YES, I was little overwhelmed when our family first went dairy free until I thought of it more as a new healthy way of eating, NOT so much of taking things away BUT bringing more wholesome foods into our home and that is EXACTLY what we did and I find it quite exciting stocking up my home with goodness, Looking in to my pantry and seeing healthy grains and staples and looking into my fridge and seeing LOTS of produce and healthy goodness,
It makes it all worth it when I look at the grocery bill and know I am feeding my family goodness!
Look around on the blog for more dairy free recipes, tips and more.
Happy dairy free stocking!