Gluten-free groceries are notoriously expensive. In fact, a study showed that gluten-free specialty foods are 2.5 times more expensive than their “regular” counterparts!
If you go to a restaurant and order their gluten-free pasta, it will surely be one of the most expensive items on the menu. When you go to the liquor store and buy a 6-pack of gluten-free beer, the price is often similar to the more expensive microbrews.
As if the gluten-free diet wasn’t hard enough!
Luckily for us, there are many ways to cut down the cost of living gluten-free. From how you plan your grocery list to where you shop, there are many opportunities to trim excess fat from your grocery budget.
Here are 6 tips that can immediately help you start saving money on your gluten-free diet.
- Meal Plan: Whether you do it once a week or once a month, plan out all your meals in detail ahead of time. Even plan lunches so that you’ll have all the items you need to bring your own lunch from home every day. Plan your meals so that you’ll be making extra almost every time in order to have plenty of leftovers for the following day or for the freezer.Plan to commit a few hours once a week to cook the basic meals for the entire week. Build your shopping list around your meal plan, and stick to it. You’ll reduce wasted food and stop hemorrhaging your grocery budget.
- Coupons: Just because you can’t eat most processed convenience foods that are featured in the weekly newspaper coupon insert doesn’t mean that coupons can’t save you money. If you take a close look, more and more of the coupon circulars mention the gluten-free status of the foods they are advertising and offering discounts on.We have seen coupons for everything from a specific brand of cherry tomatoes to Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers. Look for coupons for Chex cereals (many of which are gluten-free) or Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (choose the gluten-free variety). Clip coupons for yogurts, dairy products, eggs, meat, and tortilla chips.
- Buy in Bulk: Do you go through three bags of Tinkyada brown rice pasta a week? Search online for 5 lb bags of your favorite noodles. If you use lots of a specific gluten-free baking mix, you may be able to buy a 6-pack of it on Amazon.com for a significant discount. Costco, BJ’s and other warehouse stores are potential sources for bulk gluten-free goods. Costco recently had an excellent deal on large bags of quinoa as well as gluten-free crackers.
- Gluten-Free Saver: Another great way to stock up on mixes and other gluten-free products is to use Gluten-Free Saver. Every week, they come out with a new deal for gluten-free products at 50% off or more. It’s a great way to learn about new products, and many of the deals are for variety packs of snacks, baking mixes, and other products. Best of all, many deals are shipped directly to your door!
- Make It Yourself: Gluten-free items are expensive, so consider making some of your favorite products yourself at home. At $5.99 or more per loaf, a lot of gluten-free breads are not only frozen and lacking in texture but are also quite pricy. Consider trying your hand at baking your own bread. There’s no need to buy gluten-free breadcrumbs if you’ve been saving the ends of your gluten-free bread and can make your own breadcrumbs by toasting the bread and crushing it up. If gluten-free teriyaki sauce is expensive or hard to find, try making your own and freezing it in individual portions. Bake and freeze your own muffins, cookie dough, pizza crusts and more. Even if they’re made from a mix, they may be cheaper than store-bought prepared products.
- Focus on the Perimeter: Do most of your shopping around the outside perimeter of the store – the produce section, the dairy section and the meat and fish counters. Make quick stops for nuts and legumes but steer clear of the other aisles. You’ll find that most of the products around the perimeter of the store are not only healthier and less processed than the aisle sections, but are also more likely to be naturally gluten-free. Focusing on these foods will reduce your consumption of added sugars, excess salt, preservatives and artificial flavorings and colorings.
Gluten-free grocery shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. What are your tips for budget-friendly gluten-free living?
What new products have you noticed on your local store’s shelves? Which soon-to-be-released gluten products are you looking forward to?