Gluten-Free Diet on a Budget

Shopping for gluten-free diet is relatively easy these days. Supermarkets and grocers are striving to provide choices for 3 million Americans who suffer from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free eating is also trendy, so there is money and demand involved. Gluten-free sales have been growing exponentially since 2010, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and it looks like they will continue to do so in the future. There are a few reasons for such growth and interest. First of all, more people now know about this disease and are aware of its causes and effects. In addition to that, gluten-free diet is more popular because of number of celebrities advertising this diet as a weight loss option. Athletes endorse it as a peak-performance eating plan. There is no scientific evidence to back these claims up, but you don't need it when people want to experiment. Gluten-free diet is costly and is not always affordable for an average consumer with celiac or gluten sensitivity. Specialty foods often cost a lot more than regular diet staples. Wheat-based foods are a lot cheaper because wheat is subsidized by the federal government. There is a supply-demand aspect too because while the gluten-free market is growing, it's still a lot smaller than the standard.

Gluten-free foods are made with costly ingredients, so this balloons the price. Brown rice flour, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat add a significant portion of the price, and so do special sweeteners, such as agave, coconut sugar, and honey.

In addition to understandable extra cost, there is also desire to make extra money through price gouging. Manufacturers and retailers might desire to cash -in and take advantage. On the other hand, gluten-free products are not manufactured for economies-of-scale, so they have to sell at a steeper price to stay afloat.

All that said it's still possible to eat gluten-free and not break the bank. You'll need to involve a little planning and will be able to find ways to shop on a budget and still adhere to your diet.

Read on and discover nine tips how to save some money and feel good with gluten-free:

Gluten-free diet
  1. Cheaper carbohydrates


    Gluten-free diet involves various ancient grains that are usually pricier. However, you don't have to follow the amaranth and quinoa trends. There is nothing wrong with sticking to less expensive corn, rice, and gluten-free oats. Choose fancy grain products occasionally, but be budget-conscious most of the time.

  2. Naturally gluten-free


    Most healthy foods don't contain any gluten naturally and so they don't have to bought in the specialized section of the store. Think fruits, vegetables, tofu, nuts, beans, legumes, eggs, dairy products, and meats. Stay away from packaged gluten-free snacks and you will be OK.

  3. Cook it yourself


    If you have to have cookies and breads, do it yourself. You can do a lot at home and save money. To overcome your fear of cooking, start with the simplest of recipes, like drop-cookies, and improve from there. Once you pass the steep learning curve, gluten-free cooking won't look any harder than cooking with regular ingredients.

  4. Freezing


    The best thing you can do is make extra batches of gluten-free food and freeze it for later use. Some products, like cookies can last for a couple of months in a freezer in an air-tight container. Loaves of bread should be sliced before freezing, so individual pieces will be available for use at any time. You can even place sheets of wax paper between slices to prevent sticking due to moisture.

  5. Internet


    Consider buying gluten-free products online and try to get a discount. You can find a great selection of gluten-free products at Amazon, offering not only gluten free crackers, but also pancake mixers, toaster pastries and more. Other excellent places to look for awesome deals on gluten free items are GlutenFreeMall.com, Vitacost.com and Target. When you shop at Target make sure you check their Gluten Free Section featuring a wide selection of Certified Gluten Free Frozen Meals & Entrees at affordable prices. You can get gluten-free products at Target for much less if you use coupons from coupon sites every time you make purchases online. You can find tons of coupons for Target grocery savings at bakingshop.com.

Family meals
  1. Bulk buying


    You should look for coupons or discounts and buy in bulk, if possible. Many manufacturers post their coupons online or in weekly grocery newsletters. Be careful with bulk bins because they can be contaminated with gluten-containing particles.

  2. Family meals


    Even if you have only one person in the family that is sensitive to gluten, consider making gluten-free meals that the entire family will like. This will not only save money, but time too. If everybody is eating gluten-free, the morale will be automatically improved. People with celiac disease want to lead a normal life, just like we all do. Making the same food for the entire family will make them feel better and not excluded.

  3. Shop around


    You can always find brands that are not super expensive. Visit stores like Trader Joe's, and check their gluten-free department. According to dieticians and their patients, Trader Joe's is a treasure trove for gluten-free shopping, starting with their organic brown rice gluten-free pasta at $1.99 for 16 oz. Make sure you calculate price per ounce when making buying decisions. ALDI and Meijer also carry store-brand inexpensive gluten-free options. TJ Maxx and Marshalls are two other places where you can find great discounted gluten-free options.

  4. One-pot meals


    Don't make complicated meals every day, but instead cook a simple batch and eat it for the a few days. This will make your life easier and more cost-efficient. A large pot of soup, chili, or stew is not only cheaper, but healthy too.