Going gluten-free three years ago threw our monthly grocery budget for a loop.
I had the art of feeding our family frugal, healthy, wholesome meals pretty much down to a science.
In a matter of weeks, the cost of feeding our family nearly doubled. Ouch!
A few months into our gluten free lifestyle, cooking (and grocery shopping) started to make sense again. A few years down the road, it’s almost second nature.
If you’ve recently gone gluten-free and feel like you’re grocery budget is about to file Chapter Thirteen, be encouraged! There are practical ways to save money.
Here are a few simple ways that work for me:
Think outside of the box and can.
Gluten-free mixes are ridiculously expensive! It’s true that alternative flours aren’t cheap, but it’s still much cheaper to buy and use gluten-free flours than to rely on pricey pre-made mixes.
Eating gluten or wheat free will automatically require that you stay away from canned soups (such as cream of chicken or mushroom soups), but don’t think that you have to upgrade to expensive gluten-free varieties of these same foods. Learn to make your own sauces, gravies, spice mixes, and soups. They taste better and will literally save your budget!
Spend where it counts and skimp elsewhere.
Some gluten free products are going to cost more no matter what, so make allowance for the extra expense by skimping somewhere else.
Eat out less.
If you have to buy gluten-free bread, eat sandwiches once or twice a week instead of three or four times a week. (Or try this scrumptious gluten-free sandwich bread. It’s crazy simple to make!)
Make your own gluten-free cereal (such as granola or muesli) instead relying on the usual bowl of (costly) gluten-free boxed cereal. If you like to bake, it’s really cheap to make your own gluten-free pancakes, muffins, and waffles.
Decide where you have to spend extra and where you can get by on less.
Consider investing in a grain mill.
Gluten-free flours are double and triple times the price of wheat flour. (I found that out the hard way when I first ordered a variety of gluten free flours from our food co-op!)
I toyed with the idea of grinding my own grains for several years but never wanted to make the initial investment of purchasing a mill. When I realized the savings of grinding gluten-free grains versus buying the pricey flours, I was convinced!
If you’re gluten free and are game for a fun experiment, try grinding your own grains. Shoshanna’s Gluten-free Flour Mix is absolutely the BEST flour blend I’ve tried (and I’ve experimented with many, let me tell you)!
Be willing to accept a new “normal” in your diet.
Let’s just face it, life isn’t quite the same once you’ve cut a major food group out of your diet. Wheat and other gluten-containing grains are a huge part of the Standard American Diet. You won’t be able to eat “like everyone else”, or even how you’re used to eating.
What does this have to do with saving money? Plenty!
Think about it: if you feel you have to eat like you always have eaten, you’ll be paying extra for all those fancy gluten-free foods at the grocery store. You know, the cookies and the mixes and the pricey pre-made pretties that have that coveted “gluten free” label across the front of the box.
Refuse to feel deprived and embrace the challenge of creating a “new normal” in your kitchen!
After several years of experimenting with recipes (and finding more that I didn’t like than I did like), I’ve discovered a marvelous thing:
it IS possible to enjoy healthy, delicious, savory and decadent foods and still stay away from gluten.
With a little creativity, an open mind, and a bucket load of patience, you can live well without wheat… and still stay with a budget.
If you’re a gluten-free gal, you might want to check out this week’s Coffee Table Conversations session: “Allergen-free cooking.”
You can also check out my Menu Planning eBooks Bundle, which features over 200 pages of recipes, tips, and resources for preparing healthy, gluten-free meals.
And here are 90 frugal, gluten-free recipes and meal ideas to get you started!
Do you have food allergies? If so, how has that affected your grocery budget?