TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY WHILE EATING GLUTEN-FREE

TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY WHILE EATING GLUTEN-FREE


Gluten-free doesn't have to be costly! I'm going to share my best strategies for eating gluten-free on a budget!

Whether you're eating gluten-free because you want to or because you've been diagnosed with an intolerance or allergy, you'll discover that it rapidly adds up, especially if you buy a lot of convenience foods or pre-packaged things.

You might also discover that the gluten-free alternatives aren't up to par with your favorite gluten-filled items in terms of quality. This can lead to a lot of disappointment and money being squandered.

The aforementioned reasons, combined with my fear of gluten cross contamination, drive me to go in the kitchen and experiment with new recipes at home.

Cooking at home, whether gluten-free or not, is one of the most cost-effective methods to save money each month (especially if you go to a sit-down restaurant more than 2 times a week).

Various vegetables on a graphic for gluten-free eating on a budget.

Contents Table of Contents

HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE MONEY-SAVING SUGGESTIONS FOR EATING GLUTEN-FREE:

COOK IN YOUR HOUSE

Cooking at home, whether gluten-free or not, is one of the most cost-effective methods to save money each month (especially if you go to a sit-down restaurant more than 2 times a week).

GO TO THE PANTRY FIRST.

Make a list of the goods you already have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and think of new ways to incorporate them into this week's meal plan. The simplest method to save money is to consume what you've already paid for.

MAKE A WEEKLY OR MONTHLY MEAL PLAN.

Going to the grocery store without a list can lead to you purchasing items you don't require or, even worse, failing to purchase a necessary item. Having a grocery list and sticking to it can drastically cut your weekly/monthly grocery bill.

Check for sales online before going to the store. Depending on what I need, I shop at 1-2 food stores each week. Before I make my weekly food plan, I always look up the weekly discounts online. This way, I'll be able to arrange my meals around what's on sale this week (along with the food I already have in the pantry).

If you plan your meals for the month rather than the week, you'll be able to come up with new methods to use the same components over and over. For example, leftover tomato paste, salsa, mustard, cashews, and other ingredients purchased for one meal can be used again later in the month, allowing you to get the most bang for your buck.

PREPARE MEALS THAT YOU KNOW YOUR FAMILY WILL ENJOY.

Even if you're new to gluten-free cooking, finding meals that your family will love and enjoy is crucial to saving money on groceries. Planning meals that you don't want to eat or that your children will throw a tantrum over will not save you money in the long term.

Once you've perfected a meal, add it to your weekly or monthly rotation to ensure you always have dinners that everyone enjoys.

KNOW WHAT PRODUCES ARE IN SEASON AND BUY THEM.

Knowing what produce will be on sale (at retailers like Trader Joe's or Aldi that don't usually post weekly circulars) can help you plan ahead for what will be on sale.

It's also a good idea to make a list of frequent substitutes so that if you find anything on sale, you'll know whether or not you can use it according to your meal plan.

a bunch of tomatoes

EACH WEEK, PLAN 1-2 PLANT-BASED MEALS

Almost always, eating a plant-based diet helps you save money. Without meat, beans, lentils, whole grains, and even lentil or bean-based pasta are excellent sources of protein and fiber.

This can save you anywhere from $2 to $5 per recipe, which can add up over the course of a month depending on how many meatless meals you prepare. If you're on a budget, rice and beans, beans and rice, as Dave Ramsey often says.

Save even more money by making your own beans from dried beans rather than buying canned beans. Making your own beans instead of buying canned beans can save you up to $120 per year, according to the Bean Institute (for a family of 4, eating beans 1 time a week)

BREAK THE MOLD FOR WHAT DINNER SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

Having breakfast for dinner or "kitchen sink" meals where you basically put leftover produce/pantry stuff together once a week might be a fantastic way to save money, similar to eating plant-based.

With whatever strange ingredients we have remaining at the end of the week, I prefer to make frittatas or omelets, stir fries, soups, or salads. If you don't feel like eating what's on the menu, this might be a great way to save money and break up the monotony of a meal plan!

These fridge-cleaning dinners can also help to reduce waste by preventing produce, meat, cheese, and dairy from spoiling in the fridge before your next grocery shop.

APPRECIATE LEFTOVERS

Even though leftovers are rarely attractive or the most appealing supper, they can save you a lot of money. Whether you repurpose leftovers into a completely new dinner or simply eat them as is, not wasting food can save you a lot of money in the long run.

MAKE USE OF YOUR FREEZER

Make the most of your freezer by storing leftovers, freezing meals (for those times when you don't feel like cooking), and storing leftovers. Did you know that you may freeze single-serving containers of tomato paste, yogurt, rice, beans, shredded chicken, sauces, and cooked vegetables to reheat fast and serve as a frozen meal?

Another fantastic way to use your freezer is to keep any leftover vegetable scraps or chicken bones for making stock. Making your own vegetable and chicken broth at home is one of the simplest ways to save money (and ensure your broth is gluten-free). It's quite simple to make and doesn't cost you anything because it's made entirely of scraps from the previous week! I prepare chicken broth in the instant pot or crockpot at least once a month and freeze it in 1 cup portions using super cubes.

If you discover protein on sale and know you won't be able to utilize it all right away, freeze it in the container it came in or make a few freezer dinners with it so you can have some ready-to-eat meals later in the month.

The FDA has a fantastic guide on how long you can store things in the freezer.

KEEP A LIST OF YOUR FRIDGE AND FREEZER ITEMS AND LABEL THEM.

This is truly a game changer in terms of preventing food waste! It's such a waste of money and resources to let food rot. Keep a list of the produce you have on hand at the beginning of the week on your refrigerator and cross it off as you use it.

Keep a freezer list of things in the freezer, with use-by dates, so you can immediately determine what foods are about to expire when you're planning your weekly menus.

Invest in a labeling system for your frozen dinners as well! I like to write the name of the meal, the date it was added to the freezer, and the use by date right on the bag so no one can guess what's inside. When you don't know what you're getting (is it chili or tomato sauce) or how long that dish has been in the freezer, it may be pretty frustrating.

Beans, rice, and pasta are stored in glass jars.

GO TO THE STORE WHEN YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY OR TIRED.

When you're hungry, it's easy to buy goods that aren't on your shopping list! When you're sleepy, you may be less concerned about your budget and choose for more "fun foods." To stick to your list as strictly as possible, go when you are energized and have a full stomach.

BETTER DEALS CAN BE FOUND ON THE TOP AND BOTTOM SHELVES.

Did you realize that businesses pay for product placement on retail shelves at eye level? This usually indicates that you, the customer, will pay a higher price for that item. Examine the top and lower shelves for a similar product at a lesser cost.

BUY GENERIC OR STORE BRAND LABELS WITHOUT HEsitation.

Because Trader Joe's and Aldi are both generic brands, you won't have to worry about this when you shop there. When shopping at regular food stores, the generic brand is often just as good as the name brand but considerably less expensive. For things like beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, and fruits, I always buy generic (unless name brand is on deep discount).

SHOP THE SALES, BUT ONLY PURCHASE WHAT YOU REQUIRE.

Non-perishable foods such as pastas, beans, dried legumes, nuts, seeds, and canned goods are all excellent choices for bulk or on-sale purchases.

These things often have a lengthy shelf life, so getting 2-3 more than you need that week when you find a nice offer is a good idea. However, don't buy more only to take advantage of the sale. Even if you only buy one item, many retailers will give you a 12 percent discount. If something is labeled as 2 for $5, for example, if you only buy one, it should ring up at $2.50.

WHEN FOODS ARE ON SALE, DOUBLE YOUR RECIPES.

If you're on a budget and something is on sale, double the recipe and freeze half for later in the month or next month. This is particularly true if you can locate beef on sale, but it also applies to chili, soups, stews, and sauces.

DO NOT SPEND EXTRA ON ITEMS OF CONVENIENCE.

Making your own hummus, dressings, spice blends, vegetable broth/chicken broth, and sauces instead of buying store purchased can save you a lot of money, especially if you have to be careful with the ingredients or have other dietary limitations.

Make your own snack packs with chips, almonds, trail mix, and other items. It is always more expensive to purchase these things in individual packets for convenience.

A group of lemons and limes.

START YOUR OWN GARDEN

Even if you only have a little yard, a herb garden and a tomato plant can save you a lot of money in the summer and all year! Here in North Carolina, I have rosemary, sage, and thyme that grow all year, which saves me money all year.

In the late spring, we also grow basil and flat leaf parsley. If you have limited space, I wouldn't recommend planting cilantro because it bolts (blooms and dies) soon, and I can obtain organic cilantro for a reasonable price at the store.

Tomatoes are also a terrific addition to a tiny garden if you have the space.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, VISIT FARMERS MARKETS.

I enjoy going to farmers markets, but I often find that the costs are higher than what I would pay at the supermarket. Farmers spend entire days in the market, and they take great care to bring the greatest products for sale, which I admire.

Getting a hold of a farmer at the end of the day can be a terrific way to get a good deal on what's left over. They would rather sell it to you at a bargain than take it home since they don't want to fly back home with excess produce.

If a discount is not offered, you can take advantage of this and ask for one (just don't be insulted if they say no). Also keep in mind that because you are limited to what is left at the end of the day, this technique may result in you not getting everything on your list.

REMEMBER TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE PORTIONSREM

Portion control is particularly crucial for high-cost foods such as meats, cheeses, nuts, and seeds. When you focus on the portion sizes that you provide, you may really stretch your budget. By adding inexpensive beans or rice to a dish, you may make it just as satisfying as if you used lesser portions of the more expensive items.

GO TO STORES THAT ARE KNOWN FOR BEING CHEAP.

Trader Joe's and Aldi are the only stores where I shop practically exclusively.

Trader Joe's is a fantastic alternative for staples like oats, rice, frozen fruits and vegetables, produce, organic chicken, chicken sausage, ground turkey, spices, and miscellaneous necessities like coconut aminos, peanut butter, and so on. But be careful: Trader Joe's has a lot of "fun items" that may rapidly mount up and shatter your budget if you don't keep track.

If you've never gone to Aldi, it's a terrific place to start because the variety is restricted and everything is off-brand. They feature a wide variety of organic fruit, meats, eggs, and spices.

If buying in quantity makes sense for your family, Walmart or Costco are other terrific options for grocery shopping on a budget.

WHAT TO BUY ON A BUDGET IF YOU ARE GLUTEN-FREE

There are some wonderful advice on how to plan your week and set yourself up for success so that nothing goes to waste, but the most essential thing is that you have a list of gluten-free and budget-friendly items to visit.

These are the staples in my cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer. For the things on this list, I generally shop at Trader Joe's and Aldi for the greatest pricing.

PROTEIN

Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

Drumsticks of chicken

chicken in its entirety

Turkey, ground

Sausage made from chicken

Eggs

Whites of eggs

Tuna in a can

Salmon in a can

Salmon caught in the wild (Aldi)

Beans, both canned and dried (black beans, great northern white beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, red and dark red kidney beans)

Lentils are a type of legume (green, brown, red)

GLUTEN-FREE 

Jasmine Rice (brown or white) - Because Thai jasmine rice has the lowest amounts of arsenic, I think it's worth the extra money to buy it instead of white or brown rice. As an added advantage, jasmine rice reheats wonderfully and is ideal for leftover dishes!

Gold, red, and russet potatoes are all fantastic for quick dinners!

Sweet potatoes are a type of potato that is used

Gluten-free oats — make sure they're gluten-free by reading the label.

Brown rice, brown rice and quinoa, and black bean pasta are all gluten-free possibilities.

Lentil or chickpea pasta — while more expensive than gluten-free spaghetti, lentil or chickpea pasta is high in protein and ideal for meatless meals. It's also high in soluble fiber and far more filling than regular pasta, so a little goes a long way.

Quinoa is an excellent grain to use for meatless dishes. Quinoa is high in protein and fiber, and it pairs well with a can of beans to make a delicious and substantial meatless supper.

Butternut squash – this is a terrific item to buy at Trader Joe's because the pricing is the same no matter how big or tiny the squash is. Finding a huge squash for $2 is a fantastic find!

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually less expensive.

Rather than buying convenience packets with only the florets or prechopped vegetables, buy the full fruit or vegetable. You're paying for the convenience of having someone else do the work for you, so if you're on a budget, you'll have to do it yourself.

Remember to check out the frozen food area! Frozen fruits and vegetables might help you stretch your budget, especially if you don't eat all of the stuff you buy. Frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional value as fresh fruits and vegetables and remain considerably longer in the freezer.

You can also freeze many fruits and vegetables you buy if you don't plan on using them right away. Many of these fresh fruits and vegetables will lose their texture after defrosting, so plan on using them in soups and smoothies later. With leftover fruits and vegetables, you can also make homemade smoothie packs and freezer meals.

The following are some examples of common low-cost vegetables:

Onions are a type of vegetable that grows in (white, brown, red)

Celery

Carrots

Peas, Frozen

Cabbage

Broccoli and cauliflower are two vegetables that go well together (bought as the whole veggie, not broken down into florets)

Trader Joe's and Aldi both have fantastic deals on spinach (both fresh and frozen).

Greens for salads (large containers of organic salad greens are always a great deal at Aldi)

Typical low-cost fruits include:

Bananas

Lemons

Limes

Berries that have been frozen

Pineapple is a tropical fruit (Aldi always has a great price on pineapple)

DAIRY

Almond milk is a milk made from almonds.

Milk made from oats

Large pots of Greek yogurt

Large tubs of yogurt

Cheeses in general - Trader Joe's and Aldi have fantastic cheese prices. Limiting your cheese consumption, on the other hand, is a simple method to save money on your monthly shopping bill.

GROCERY ITEMS OTHER THAN FOOD

Chips de Tortilla

Salsa

Organic canned tomatoes in BPA-free cans are available at both Aldi and Trader Joe's for a terrific price.

Tomato paste is often sold in a tiny 6oz can and is the cheapest. Trader Joe's sells tomato paste in tubes that last longer in the fridge for convenience.

Coconut aminos (Trader Joe's offers the greatest price) are a gluten-free and soy-free substitute to soy sauce.

Nuts — cashews, walnuts, pecans, and almonds (all from Trader Joe's for a wonderful price)

Seeds — pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp hearts (from Trader Joe's for a wonderful deal)

Chia seeds and ground flaxseed are excellent for baking, porridge, and creating homemade jam.

Trader Joe's provides the greatest price on nutritional yeast, which is fantastic for dairy-free recipes.

Coconut milk is a delicious dairy product.

Spices can be found at Trader Joe's and Aldi at a reasonable price.

Balsamic, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, and white wine vinegar are some of the vinegars available.

Olive oil, avocado oil, toasted sesame seed oil, coconut oil, and ghee are some of the oils that can be used.

Trader Joe's provides the greatest prices on peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, and tahini.

Trader Joe's provides the best prices on cacao powder and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Prepared pesto - unless you plant your own basil, creating pesto at home can be pretty expensive (which I highly recommend in the summer).

Gluten-free bread and bagels – Trader Joe's and Aldi both have good prices on these items, but gluten-free breads and bagels are typically much more expensive than traditional breads, aren't as good (in my opinion), and often have a lot of ingredients, so they aren't worth my budget dollars, but you might disagree.

Whether you are just starting out on your journey to eat better on a budget or have been at this for some time, there is usually one or two things you can take away from this list to improve your grocery budget process.

Credit:  bitesofwellness.com/gluten-free-budget/