A couple weeks ago Ashley asked me to do a guest post at The Vanilla Tulip. She has started a series called Thrifty Thoughts where she posts about budgeting, saving money, being thrifty etc. I love the idea of working together to save money! So I shared a post on how I feed my fam gluten free & vegan on a seriously small budget. It CAN be done I promise :)
I forgot I never shared it here. So here you are! I would love to hear your feedback and comments. How do you save?
I get lots of questions from people considering cutting gluten from their diets & I LOVE being able to answer questions & help out!I've been gluten & dairy free for almost 4 years now & I've definitely learned some things along the way.
One of the biggest things everyone is concerned about is the cost of going gluten free.
Luckily I can help there too, because not only are we gluten free & vegan at our house...
We're on a serious budget.
My husband, daughter and I recently moved into my in-law's basement to fast track our savings plan so that we can buy a house next year.
My in-laws are gracious, lovely people but living in the basement is serious motivation when it comes to sticking to budget & saving every penny you can ;)
Anyway, I would love to share some of my best advice for eating gluten free (on a budget)!
Hopefully these are helpful tips to those of you who are recently gluten free or considering it.
1.) Buy Bulk:
I don't necessarily mean head to Costco and stock up on a year's supply of rice (although rice does keep for awhile and I'm sure that's cost effective). But I'm talking about the bulk section at your market. Whole Foods has a great bulk section and it's typically significantly cheaper than the prepackaged goods.
You can find so many staples:
- rice- Rice is a staple for a gluten free diet I've recently switched to slow-cooking instead of instant brown rice to save even more. It takes about 45 minutes to cook but you just get it simmering and then set a timer and it's totally worth it to me! We probably have rice with dinner 3 times a week and the slow-cooking, bulk, brown rice is only about $.05-$.07 per serving!!
- dried beans- Another great place to save is dried beans. Beans in general tend to be cost effective and if I find the cans on sale I usually stock up, but I also like to buy dried beans and cook them in a slow cooker so that they soak up the flavors and spices while they rehydrate! So yummy and CHEAP!
- spices- To be honest I'm not sure what's cheaper ounce for ounce, but the bulk section is AMAZING for spices you don't use very often. Instead of paying $7 for an entire container of a spice that you need 1/2 tsp of for one recipe... You can scoop 1/2 tsp into a tiny baggy and pay about $.50 for it :)
- baking supplies- Most gluten free flours aren't available in bulk yet, but you can usually find sugar, oats, chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruit. Again, you only have to buy as much as you need so you don't end up wasting as much.
One quick note about buying in bulk: I have a gluten sensitivity and can't directly eat anything with wheat, barley or gluten without getting sick, but cross-contamination isn't a huge concern for me. However, I never use anything that isn't packaged in a gluten free facility when baking for my business. Depending on the severity of your allergy/ sensitivity you may have to be more cautious with this option.
2.) Case Discounts:
Sometimes I find a few gluten free specialty items at my regular grocery store, but most times I end up needing a trip to Whole Foods for some basics. I probably don't have to tell you but it's a little tricky trying to shop at Whole Foods on a tight budget!
My best advise is to take advantage of their case discount policy. If you buy a case of anything they will give you 10% off! You just have to find an employee and ask about some of your faves to see if a case is 6 or 45 :) Six boxes of pasta isn't to unreasonable and then you get a discount on everything!
So this is true for anyone looking for save money but I've seen it way more since I quit eating gluten (and dairy). Now that gluten sensitivity is becoming a more common health issue it seems like everyone is jumping on the g-free train. Have you noticed how suddenly nuts, chips, and rice cereal are all GLUTEN FREE? Well... actually they always have been. They're just labeling it now (and you're probably paying more JUST for that label). Here is a basic list of foods that are naturally gluten free:
- fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (check that the veggie is the only ingredient added)
- fresh, frozen or canned fruit (again check for sneaky additives)
- quinoa (LOVE this stuff!)
Don't pay extra for these things just because they're labeled gluten free. Also make sure you're reading labels. Sometimes seasonings in packaged foods can sneak in gluten!
I hope that helps a little. I know it can be overwhelming to cut out gluten at first, but it can be such a relief to know that you can cure health issues with a simple diet change. And you can absolutely do it on a budget!!