Thursday, September 24, 2015

On a Budget? You Can Still Go Gluten-Free!

These days, it seems the price of everything is going way up, and a trip to the grocery store can bring the balance of your bank account (and your mood) way down. So, if you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time planning out your meals and your corresponding food budget each week in order to maximize your food dollars. And for those of us with the additional consideration of gluten intolerance or sensitivity, we need to make sure we are making smart purchases that don't break the bank.

According to Money Talks News, the food industry is rapidly responding to the needs of those who are on a gluten-free diet, but g-free products can be breathtakingly expensive. One study found that gluten-free products, on average, cost 242 percent more than their wheat-based counterparts.

Why So Expensive?
There are legitimate expenses that help drive up the cost of creating gluten-free foods for consumers, first and foremost being the cost of having a dedicated, secure facility to manufacture g-free foods without the risk of cross-contamination from non-g-free ingredients. There's also the cost of specialty ingredients, employee training, and product testing and certification.

So, keeping a gluten-free shopping trip within budget is easier said than done, right? Well, not necessarily! Several spending-savvy members of our g-free community are here to help guide us through shopping g-free without ending up in the poor house.

Bulk Up
Go big or go home! Invest in bulk size whole grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and wild rice. You'll save when you super size vs purchasing in smaller quantities. Or ask your grocer about getting a discount if you buy pasta a case at a time. Once you buy in bulk, be sure to cook in bulk. Saving and freezing leftovers for future meals can save time and money. Like to shop online? Try buying in bulk at Amazon.

Take a Pass on the Prepackaged Foods
Whether Celiac or not, we all need to eat more fresh produce and lean meats and limit our consumption of prepackaged foods. Gluten-Free Gigi provides these three easy money-saving tips to consider before your next trip to the grocery store:
  •   DIY to the rescue! Skip the hefty price tags associated with buying pre-packaged mixes and flour blends, and make your own. It will literally save you thousands of dollars over time. Stop relying on processed gluten-free foods to make up your daily meals. Experiment with making your own broth rather than buying expensive gluten-free broths.
  • Go ahead and get fresh! Eat in-season fresh produce or scour the frozen food aisles for sales (make sure those products are 100% gluten-free, of course!). Scout out your local farmer's market for seasonal inspiration.
  • Eat lean to save green! Turn to lean meats such as fish and poultry and low-cost eggs for high protein (or plant-based proteins like beans lentils and for our g-free vegan friends). Use those specialty items to complement meals or as a special, occasional treat. You will soon see your grocery bill dwindle down. And if you snag a sale? Be sure to load up your freezer.

The Power of Pasta and the Potato
The Gluten Free Goddess details her top 10 tips and recipe ideas for thriving on a g-free budget, including embracing the oh-so versatile potato—whether as a side dish or as the center of a meal—and pasta purchased in bulk. One of my favorite go-to recipes is the Roasted Veggie Smothered Baked Potato Recipe. So simple and yet so satisfying!

Embrace these tips to ensure you are keeping your food budgets under control. Your pocketbook and your waistline will thank you! 

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