Today we’ve got a great guest post on eating a frugal gluten-free diet from my friend (and Springs Bargains reader) Melissa. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us, Melissa!
The day I found out I was allergic to gluten, I thought I might not survive. Can a person really live without eating bread, cinnamon rolls, and pizza? I’d never heard of anyone! I was pretty sure I wouldn’t last long. I went online and searched for “gluten free diet.” When I realized how many items contain gluten, I just sat there stunned. Then I went to the grocery store and saw the prices of items marked “gluten free.” I wondered if our grocery budget would survive either.
In my grief, I called my mom and she gave me a very important assignment. She advised me to sit down and make a list of all the food I could still eat. Wow, I could still eat a lot of really tasty food! Five years later, I’m still alive, I’m a lot healthier, and I feel great!
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or just want to cut back on wheat, here are some tips for keeping inside your food budget.
1) Concentrate on naturally gluten free foods – fruit, veggies, meat, beans, rice, potatoes, milk, cheese… the list goes on and on. Instead of trying to find a special gluten free recipe and buying all the expensive ingredients, look for regular recipes that are naturally gluten free. Follow the sales listed here on SpringsBargains and plan your menus around items that are naturally gluten free.
2) Avoid specialty stores, unless they are having special deals on gluten free items. Do as much shopping as possible at King Soopers, Safeway, and Albertsons. Keep your eyes peeled for those gluten free indicator stickers. If an item is on sale, take a minute to look over the item. If you decide to purchase it, remember that it should replace something on your menu for that week. Buying both items doesn’t save you money!
3) I invented a “two pot” rule for eating pasta. For example, if we eat spaghetti, I make two pots — one that is gluten free and one that isn’t. My husband eats a lot of spaghetti and feeding him gluten free spaghetti would cost a fortune! Although it is more work, the rule does save us money.
4) Stock up during sales. There are a few gluten free items I buy and I stock up when/if those items go on sale — Pamelas mixes (often cheapest on Amazon), Progresso Cream of Mushroom soup, Betty Crocker mixes, Mix 1 Drinks, KIND bars, Tinkyada pasta, Udi’s granola, RiceWorks, Mission Tortilla Chips, Nut-Thins. Sales are few and far between, but they occasionally come around. Never stock up on an item unless you’ve tried it and like it.
5) Attend the local gluten free expo. Each year, the local celiac support group hosts this event. I come home with bags of free samples, coupons, and new ideas.
6) Occasionally shop at a scratch and dent stores. I have a friend who buys me gluten free flours, mixes, crackers, etc all for under a dollar at scratch and dent stores. With these flours, you can make your own mixes.
7) Become a member of BeFreeForMe.com, which is a coupon and sample site for gluten and allergy-free consumers.
8) If you must have a loaf of bread, a pie crust, or a pizza crust (and don’t have time to make it yourself), stop by Outside the Breadbox in Old Colorado City and purchase from their clearance section. Natural Grocers often has Outside the Breadbox items on clearance at their stores.
9) Celiac patients can deduct gluten free food on their taxes. You can deduct the cost of the gluten free item that is more than a comparable gluten-contained item. On a spreadsheet, note the name and brand of the item, cost of the gluten-free item, the comparable gluten item, and the difference.
10) Splurge occasionally. Have a hankerin’ for an Udi’s blueberry muffin even though they never go on sale? Go ahead and spend $6 for that package, but limit yourself on how often you do it. Try not to deprive yourself from all things yummy. I limit these purchases to my birthdays and vacations.
Those are my suggestions. Please share how you eat frugally gluten free by leaving a comment.