Let’s face it; going gluten-free and staying gluten-free is not cheap. When we decided to make the switch I was excited. I figured these days there are tons of stuff for gluten-free people and I’m always ready to try something new. So I ran to the store giddy to get started only to have my excitement instantly deflated in the store aisle. Gluten-free is expensive! It took a few months to figure out how to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle without feeling like my entire budget is being depleted in the process. So, now I’m sharing my five tips for going gluten-free without breaking the budget.
Stick to the Natural Gluten-Free Products
There are plenty of foods out there that are gluten-free. Add more fruits, vegetables, beans (dried, frozen, canned) and rice to your diet. Meat is a great source of protein and is also gluten-free. Don’t eat processed meats though. These are often injected with preservatives that contain gluten. Eating natural foods not only saves you money, but gives your body a natural source of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Avoid the Gluten-Free Alternatives
Gluten-free alternatives are where you will spend the most of your budget (if you choose to buy them). Things like gluten-free breads, bagels and even baking mixes often cost 40 to 70 percent more than the gluten-containing version. That’s ridiculous. While going gluten-free can be healthy, these gluten-free replacement products are often highly processed — making them just as unhealthy (or unhealthier) than what they’re made to replace. About the only gluten-free replacement product we buy here (and its rare) is the gluten-free pasta. You can make your own gluten-free alternatives instead of buying them. My family and I always whip up gluten-free muffins (these freeze well too, so make a batch and freeze half for later) and gluten-free crackers. They’re easy to make, inexpensive, and taste great!
Make Your Own Gluten-Free Mixes
A box of gluten-free cake mix can cost up to $8 per box. That’s one expensive cake if you ask me. Make your own gluten-free mixes by mixing, measuring and packaging gluten-free baking products together. When you make your own you’re not only saving, but you’re also in control of how much salt, sugar and processed items you’re adding to your diet. Plus, you can get creative and make your own mixes based on what you and your family like. If you can, avoid the gluten-free all-purpose flour blends. Believe it or not you can save even more by buying each type of flour individually and making your own blend.
Buy in Bulk
A lot of stores have bulk food aisles that have gluten-free products. For example, my local Smith’s has coconut flour for $1.89 per pound. Bagged it is $2.79 per pound. Just be careful when you buy in these types of bulk aisles. If they don’t have a separate section for gluten-free only, some of the bins could be contaminated with gluten. Also, you can buy gluten-free products in bulk from sites like Amazon and Bob’s Red Mill. They usually come in 25 to 50 pound bags/cartons, but you can get pasta, flour and even baking mixes for a steal when you buy it in a bigger size. If you have a Costo, Sams Club or other warehouse club in your area, check to see what they carry. It’s often cheaper to buy gluten-free items from warehouse stores than your local grocery store chain. Our favorite all-purpose flour, for example, comes in a 5 lbs. bag at Costco for $11.89 while that same bag is $16.99 at the grocery store.
Stock Up at Sale Time
Sales for gluten-free products are rare, but when they happen you can sometimes walk away with tons of gluten-free stuff for cheap. When it happens stock up. But, make sure you can consume what you stock up on before it expires. There’s no point in racking up the savings if it goes to waste by spoiling, right? There are rarely gluten-free coupons, but more and more are popping up on coupon sites and newspaper inserts. If you can, clip these and use them at sale time to stock up on gluten-free products for even less. Gluten-free doesn’t have to cost you and your family a fortune. Just by shopping smart, avoiding the processed junk, and stocking up you can maintain a gluten-free lifestyle for fairly cheap. For those new to gluten-free, there are support groups and communities too. These are great for networking, but also for finding recipe ideas and additional ways to save on gluten-free living. Some of these groups even do product exchanges or bulk-buying together.
About the Author
Korilynn is a mother of two, wife, chef, and writer. She strives to live the frugal lifestyle while still keeping her family healthy and happy. Despite her busy schedule she finds the time to share realistic frugal living tips, life hacks and DIY fun on her blog, One Cheap Utah Chick. On her blog it is all about finding your own definition of frugal and loving every minute of the journey. Connect with Korilynn on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or follow her on Pinterest.