Being gluten-free, you get used to eating a lot of small sandwiches. The truth is, gluten-free baking ingredients are expensive. Take a look at these statistics:
Regular flour – $1.00 per pound
Gluten-free flour substitute – $2.00 – $3.00 per pound
Amaranth flour – $3.00 – $4.00 per pound
Rice flour – $3.00 – $4.00 per pound
That extra expense for specialty gluten-free food can add up for a single person. Imagine having a family – like ours and many others – who have chosen to live gluten-free. Those expenses add up, and quick!
7 Rules for Cheap Gluten Free Meals
I’ve come up with 7 rules for eating gluten-free on the cheap. At the end of the post, I’ve also listed several blogs, online stores, and other resources that you can use to cut down your monthly food bill.
Rule 1: Do it yourself. When my nephew wanted gluten-free pop tarts, we could have very easily ordered a box online or picked some up at the local health food store. Instead, my husband Dan first tried to make some himself. The result was delicious, and making them from scratch – while more time consuming than running to the store – saved money and was a fun thing to do together.
Rule 2: Shop around. Veteran celiacs often joke about the fantasy notion of one-stop shopping. It’s hard to find all of your favorite gluten-free products in one place. But now that you’ve got that DIY spirit and are ready to save some bucks, try to spot patterns about which stores have the cheapest produce or pastas. Sometimes it pays to be adventurous, too. Many local international food markets are packed with bargain produce, meats, and other whole foods.
Rule 3: Waste not, want not. When you do splurge on delicious crackers, cookies or other packaged foods, be sure to get the most for your money by using bread heels, broken cookies or other leftovers in different recipes. For example, in the cheese stick recipe we posted to the Three Bakers Facebook you can use stale bread for the crumb coating.
Rule 4: Buy yours staples in bulk. Do you find yourself going through a lot of gluten-free pancake mix? Can’t spend the time making homemade pop tarts every morning? Are you a quinoa fiend? Ask your local health food store or supermarket if they’d be willing to purchase in bulk for you directly from the store. There are also several places online that allow you to make bulk purchase, such as The Gluten-Free Mall, Gluten-Free Palace, and Amazon.
Rule 5: Don’t fear the frozen section. Yes, there is a lot of crap in the frozen food section. What many people don’t know is that fruits and vegetables are frozen at their peak freshness. If expensive produce is getting you down, don’t fret. There’s a whole aisle of cheap produce for you to heat and eat.
Rule 6: Eat naturally gluten-free foods. I’m not telling you not to read labels carefully, but it’s important to remember that some foods don’t need a “Gluten-Free” label. We know they’re gluten free. Fresh strawberries and kale are both delicious and won’t damage your gut. Also, all these foods.
Rule 7: Get comfy with your crock pot. This was something I learned from bloggers like Stefanie at A Year of Slow Cooking and Carrie at Ginger-Lemon Girl. Crock pots full of delicious, savory beans, meats and sauces are an easy way to have a delicious meal with minimal effort.
If you’re an advanced frugalista looking to delve deeper into theses saving principles, consider checking out the following blogs:
- Everything on Gluten Freely Frugal
- How to Save Money on a Gluten-Free Diet on CeliAct
- Saving Money on Gluten-Free Foods on The Gluten-Free Homemaker
- Eating on $18 a Day on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
What are your tips for eating gluten-free inexpensively?