Eating gluten-free does not have to be expensive. If you’re grocery bill has skyrocketed since beginning a gluten-free diet these tips and tricks will help you make gluten-free living a little bit more affordable.
The most expensive part of eating gluten-free is the cost of pre-packaged foods which are specifically marketed as gluten-free products: cereal, waffles, snacks, desserts, baking mixes, pizza crusts etc. These foods are high in cost and low in nutrients therefore the value of what you get for your money is very low. By limiting the amount of these expensive gluten-free convenience foods and replacing them with naturally gluten-free options you’ll drastically lower your grocery bill. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
1. Design your meals around foods that are naturally gluten-free such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, brown rice, quinoa, beans, nuts and seeds. These are healthy, delicious, gluten-free staples that should represent the bulk of your meals. Pound per pound the cost of these naturally gluten-free foods are cheaper and more nutrient dense than your pre-packaged and processed gluten-free foods. More bang for your buck!
2. Shop at farmers’ markets for your fresh produce. Buying local fruits and vegetables that are in season are extremely affordable compared to conventional grocery stores. There is also the added sense of community that you gain from meeting the people who are growing your food. It can be a great weekly outing for the family as well, as they often have some kind of entertainment for the kids! If you live in Vancouver Eat Local is a great resource for local farmers’ markets and vendors. Additional resources: BC Farmers’ Markets and Farmers’ Markets Ontario. A quick google search should help you locate a list of farmer’s markets in your area.
3. Purchase your meat in bulk and cut out the middleman by going directly to the farmer. Find a source of quality grass-fed meat and purchase a larger quantity which can then be frozen. Getting together with another family and buying a whole animal and having it processed is a cheaper option than buying your meat one week at a time from the grocery store. If this is not an option then look out for sales and stock up the freezer when you find them. If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of grass-fed meat and find local resources please visit Eat Wild for details.
4. Invest in a large stand alone freezer so you can buy and cook in bulk and have somewhere to store it!
5. Plan your meals for the week and shop with a list. Every Sunday we create a meal plan for the week with our own ideas and recipes from our favourite blogs or cookbooks and then we make our grocery shopping list. Look at your upcoming week and determine how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you will need to shop for. Going to the grocery store with a list of ingredients for the meals you’ve just planned and then only buying the things on your list will help eliminate extra purchases that you don’t need. We have a small whiteboard on the side of our fridge where we write out our weekly meal plan so we always have a quick reference of what we’re planning to cook each day.
6. Leftovers for lunch! To save time and money we make large, healthy meals for dinner and set aside leftovers which we can then heat up for lunch the next day. It’s cheaper (and easier) to make larger quantities of one meal then to buy the additional ingredients for a new meal. Planning to take leftovers or packing a lunch instead of eating out can really cut down on the cost of your monthly food bill.
7. Make your own soups and stews and freeze them in smaller quantities for quick and easy meals when you’re on the go. Homemade soups and stews are inexpensive to make and can easily be frozen and heated up for days when you don’t have leftovers for lunch or you’d like to take a break from cooking but still want to eat at home.
8. Experiment and learn how to make your own snacks and baked goods. Homemade sauces, dips, cookies, cakes and bread are all budget friendly if you buy the raw ingredients and make them yourself. Gluten-free baking is definitely an art, and one that I am still trying to cultivate but with practice it does become easier and it’s definitely cheaper if you’re inclined to take on the challenge.
Taking the time to learn how to cook and create meals from nutrient dense whole foods instead of pre-packaged processed foods is my #1 tip for creating a healthy, gluten-free life. As a Holistic Nutritionist I specialize in gluten-free coaching and consulting. If you’re struggling with the gluten-free and/or casein-free diet please visit cultivate your health for more information on how I can help. (Long distance phone consultations are available.)
Please share your tips and tricks for healthy, gluten-free living on a budget in the comments section of this post. I’d love to hear from you!