Okay, folks. I know the cost of allergen-free specialty products and ingredients can really hit the wallet hard, especially prepackaged convenience foods. Yes, it would be safest (and healthiest) to make allergy-free snacks and treats from scratch. Well, I do that, but I also work part-time, have a family, have lots of other commitments, and frankly can’t always spare the time or energy to bake and cook everything (and my husband is the same). We don’t eat prepackaged foods a ton, but we certainly do rely on their convenience here and there! Can anyone relate?!? 🙂 So, one of my missions has been to find budget-friendly products we can keep on hand in our pantry when life just doesn’t allow for completely homemade foods.
Normally, I aim to grocery shop every two weeks. I start at one of my favorite stores, Aldi, and then make a second stop at another store (like the Meijer, Payless [Kroger], or Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in our area). Aldi is my go-to store for picking up a lot of our basics; their prices just can’t be beat on many products, and I’ve found the quality to be quite good on most items.
Imagine my excitement when Aldi began carrying a gluten-free line of foods! Well, contained excitement, because the term gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean allergy-free. Gluten free items may not have wheat, but they often have eggs, soy, dairy, nuts, or other common allergens in the ingredient list.
True to form, several of the gluten free products at Aldi DO have common allergens in them. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of them didn’t. In fact, a few of the products seem to even cater to people with food allergies! We’ve tried a lot of the products, and have found we really love some, and others not so much. The Aldi brand is called “liveGfree,” and here’s the breakdown of what we’ve found so far:
- liveGfree Gluten Free Baked Chewy Bars – We call these granola bars at our house, but like the name, they are chewy snack bars, not crunchy ones. These bars look to be a generic version of the Enjoy Life brand chewy bars, as the ingredients are pretty much identical. The only difference seems to be that Enjoy Life has four flavors and the Aldi brand only has three: Very Berry, Cocoa Loco, and Caramel Apple. Cocoa Loco & Very Berry are the favorites at our house (the Caramel Apple has a weirder texture and aftertaste, I think), and I rely on these for travel, church, and school lunches/snacks. Overall, these bars are good, and at $2.49 per box for 5 bars, this snack item is a bargain for those of us used to paying $4-$5 for a comparable product. Recommendation: pantry staple.
- liveGfree Gluten Free Granola Crunch – This is another Aldi brand that looks and tastes like the Enjoy Life brand equivalent. I think some gluten/allergen-free granolas tend to taste a little empty or off, but my oldest really likes a couple of the flavors. She’s a fan of the Double Chocolate Crunch (big surprise) 🙂 and the Cinnamon Raisin. She does NOT like the Very Berry flavor, which is odd because she likes that flavor of chewy bar! I will admit that the berry variety does taste almost tinny to me (yes that’s a word: I looked it up!); I think the freeze dried berries are just a bit off flavor. Izzy likes to let the granola soften a bit in her coconut milk, or sprinkle it on top of her coconut milk yogurt. I’ll confess that I like to put this granola on my regular cow-milk yogurt, too. This is another bargain at $3.49 for a 12.8 oz bag. Recommendation: in the pantry cereal rotation.
- liveGfree Gluten Free Soft Baked Cookies – OK, so we can’t live without these cookies. We keep at least two boxes in our pantry at all times. They are soft, and both flavors, Double Chocolate and Snickerdoodle, are yummy, though my oldest prefers the Snickerdoodle. I use these for lunches, desserts, and emergency treats for those events when you cannot find the time to bake allergy-free cookies. You know when you don’t see the email from the teacher about a birthday party until 10:30pm at night? Yeah, that’s when you pack some of these for your daughter’s allergy-friendly alternative. 🙂 Again, these mimic the Enjoy Life soft cookies, but they are $2.49 for a 6 oz box (12 cookies), so they are a super-affordable. Recommendation: CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT!
There are just too many Aldi products to review in one post, so stay tuned for more in this Aldi liveGfree product review series!
Are you a fan of Aldi? What are your allergy friendly Aldi staples?
*** DISCLAIMER: Please note that every person’s sensitivity to their given allergen(s) varies. Some of the items that I review or use may have been produced in a facility that manufactures other products with certain allergens. The items may also contain ingredients which cannot initially be confirmed as allergy free (such as “natural flavoring”). You should always check with the manufacturer to confirm that you or your children can have their product(s). The products that I review or list are items that I have used and have proven to be safe for my two girls (for wheat, soy, milk, egg, peanut, & tree nuts).***