Ask any dairy free individual their biggest food concern, and it’s likely to revolve around eating and drinking when out and about. It’s very easy to plan your diet when you’re at home, but when it comes to going out, things get a little more complicated.
There’s nothing worse than sitting with a rumbly tummy while your friends tuck into a dairy-filled feast. And if you need to grab food on the run, it can be frustrating hunting through Meal Deal items to find something suitable. Add to that the financial element of a dairy free diet (why must coffee shops charge a supplement for soya milk?!), and eating out quickly becomes an exasperating chore rather than an enjoyable treat.
Fortunately, we’ve learnt of many ways to stay dairy free when you’re not at home. By following our simple guide, you can guarantee a wholesome and satisfying meal, even when you’re out of the house.
Grabbing breakfast on the run? A meal renowned for its milk content, breakfast time certainly presents a challenge for dairy free individuals. But there are still plenty of good options available.
If you’re popping into a shop for your breakfast, take a walk down the fruit aisle. Bananas are a great start to the day, filling you up and providing lots of beneficial vitamins. Grapes and berries are also ideal if you want a snack to tide you over for the whole morning. Many stores also offer small, premixed bags of dried fruit and nuts, so you can enjoy a healthy breakfast nibble with a touch of sweetness.
Most cereal bars include milk content, so focus on the brands that market themselves as dairy free. Flapjacks and granola bars may be more suitable, but be sure to read labels. One of the safest bets for a dairy free breakfast is fruit juice and milk-free smoothies. Tasty, filling, and readily available in individual bottles, they’re sure to set you up for the day.
If you’re enjoying breakfast in a restaurant or coffee shop, there are also several options. Most chain establishments offer dairy alternatives in coffee and tea, though as mentioned before, there can often be additional charges. Request a butter free sandwich if you’re a fan of a bacon bap, and double check with the staff about the ingredients in muffins. Pastries are brimming with butter, but you might be lucky enough to dine in a restaurant that has dairy free alternatives.
Forget about the bargain meal deals on offer at supermarkets. While the £3 price tag may be appetizing, sandwiches, wraps and pasta pots are regularly laced with dairy. Instead, look for pre-made salads with a separate sachet of dressing. You can easily discard the sauce if it contains dairy, without compromising your salad! Snack pots filled with carrot sticks, cucumber and hummus are also a great lunchtime snack, along with bags of nuts and certain brands of crisps. If you want something sweet after your lunch, there are now several types of dairy free popcorn available, most often located on the same shelves as the crisps.
If you’re dining out at lunchtime, choose a place with a varied menu. ‘Healthy’ restaurants are often the most dairy free friendly, offering dishes that focus on fresh veg, fish and grains. Soup is also a great choice, and can often be found relatively cheap from cafes and stalls. It goes without saying that fast food places should be avoided – you can never be sure what’s included in those burgers!
Dinnertime often presents many more choices for dairy free people. However, it’s still important to read menus carefully and avoid the common culprits of hidden dairy – such as pasta and sauces – unless you’re certain the dish is suitable.
The majority of chain restaurants now offer a range of free from options, as well as labelling menus to help sufferers of allergies and intolerances. However, if you’re dining at a small or independent establishment, you should inform one of the team of your dietary requirements. When it comes to the menu, focus on freshly cooked dishes of fish and meat, switching creamy mash or dauphinoise potatoes for chips or rice. If you love pasta, choose dishes with a tomato based sauce, and if you’re a fan of a pie, select one with gravy rather than a creamy filling. And if bread is served, turn down the butter and try it with olive oil instead.
Desserts should mostly be avoided, unless there’s a particular dairy free option on offer. Instead, order a starter and main course, then finish your meal with a black coffee… or an extra glass of wine!
It’s important to remember that no decent restaurant will want a customer to leave disappointed or poorly. All good chefs will be willing to substitute certain ingredients, and if not, you probably don’t want to dine there anyway.
Eating when you’re out and about can be a little complicated for those following a dairy free lifestyle. However, with a little planning and investigation, you can make sure your tummy is satisfied at any time of the day.