Blog post

Places to find products that will not be in traditional grocery stores

Kidney Kitchen® contributor Linda Blaylock shares tips for navigating both big and small food stores to find your kidney-friendly food products.
Couple shopping at a small grocery store

I love "mom and pop" grocers. They are usually small and not quite as busy as the larger stores. The trip is fairly quick and easy, plus you can sometimes find great, unique products.

Unfortunately, small grocers often do not carry a wide selection of products and usually items with no added salt or lower sodium are not available either. This can be a problem when you are following a kidney-friendly food and fluid plan or trying out a kidney-friendly recipe from Kidney Kitchen®.

Big chain stores carry so much more, but even they do not always have what you need.

Here are a few tips:

Small store shopping

  • Stores like World Market and Home Goods have great imported foods sections.
  • Look for local ethnic stores as you can find some great produce, seasonings and sometimes canned goods, legumes, grains and condiments.
  • Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods are great options. They specialize in products that large chains reject due to their appearance.
  • Ask your local grocer to carry items. One thing we LOVE but do struggle to get is Boar's Head low or no salt added cheeses and meats. We are talking deli meats! Yes … roast beef sandwiches can be had. Sadly, you cannot order from their site, you must find a grocer or request that yours carry it. We only have two stores that carry limited items, and we must drive a bit to get to them but, when that craving hits for a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich, the drive is worth it!
  • Have friends or family check some stores in their area and have them send it to you.
  • Do a general search online for what you are looking for. Do some research and when you find the best item, search that and see what websites (or stores in your area) carry it.
  • There are amazing sites devoted to spices, baking supplies, imported foods, low sodium products, and more. Some of my favorites are Olive Nation, Healthy Heart Market, Spices Inc., British Essentials, British Food Depot, and Pond Hoppers.

Big store shopping

  • Check out local stores in your area that you do not frequent. Perhaps Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Aldi's, Fresh Thyme and even Target have some gems.
  • You could look for restaurant supply stores too, but the drawback is that you will be buying in bulk.
  • If you know someone with a Costco or Sam's Club membership, go with them and see what great items you can find. Ask if they are willing split the item and the cost. If not, find a friend or neighbor that may be interested in splitting it with you.

As always, check Amazon. They seem to have nearly everything!

With some research and digging, you can usually find a great product. If you do need to order online, shipping costs (and delivery time) can be an issue. I would suggest buying a few of the item(s) you are looking for, so you have it on hand and do not have to place another order right away.

If all research and avenues let you down, and you cannot use an acceptable substitute, set that recipe aside and make it when you can get the product you need or make your own, which can be fun and rewarding. You may even find that you end up sticking with it, especially if it is an item that is frequently hard to get/find, or you realize how much more of it you can use because you made it yourself and lowered the sodium (or other nutrients).

When the pandemic hit and everyone was buying like crazy, the one specific bread that we always use and was a perfect option for kidney disease was out … for months! We dusted off our trusty little bread maker and started making our own. We forgot how amazingly wonderful and tasty our homemade bread was. Sometimes convenience is great, but there is never a better substitute for homemade. Yum!

There are options, you just need to become a bit of a detective to find them. Good luck!


Linda Blaylock

Linda Blaylock is an AKF Kidney Kitchen® contributor, AKF Kidney Health Coach, culinary expert, chef, certified nutritionist, owner of CKD Culinary Consulting and a caregiver to her husband, who has stage 3 kidney disease. She offers years of experience, researching, living, preparing and eating kidney-friendly meals.