Many people starting out on a gluten-free diet are concerned about the cost and want to know how they can save money. The bottom line is that special diets of any kind usually cost more. I think it helps to face that fact, and then do what you can to keep the additional cost as low as possible. Here are some suggestions.
1. Cook and bake from scratch. That has always been a way to save money, no matter how you eat. You pay for processing and packaging. Cut that out as much of that as possible, and you will save money. You’ve probably noticed that packaged gluten-free foods are much more expensive than their gluten counterparts. You will certainly save money by making your own cookies or other baked goods. They will taste better too!
If you are new to this, gluten-free baking will take time to learn, but there are many great cookbooks and blogs that can help you out. You can save money on cookbooks by looking for them at your local library.
Cooking and baking from scratch does take time, but you might find it takes less time than you think. Making things in bulk and freezing them is a great way to prepare your own “fast food.” Try making a double batch of baked goods and putting the extra in the freezer. When making dinner, double everything and put the extra in the freezer for another night. Buy a large pack of ground meat and brown it all, maybe adding seasoning, divide and freezer. Cooked meat thaws quickly and is ready to throw into spaghetti sauce or tacos.
2. Use a grain mill. I save money by grinding my own rice, sorghum, and millet flours. I also plan on trying buckwheat. I purchase whole grain sorghum from Twin Valley Mills. I buy a 30 pound bucket for $40 including shipping. That’s only $1.33 per pound. You will probably pay $4 – $5 a pound to buy sorghum flour. Of course, a grain mill is not cheap, but it pays off in the long run.
You can read more at my previous posts about milling sorghum and other grains.
3. Change your eating habits. Gluten-free bread isn’t all that great, and some of it is pretty bad. It’s expensive to buy, and even baking it yourself can be costly if you are using lots of it. Before going gluten free, I ate sliced bread regularly for things like sandwiches and French toast. Now I seldom eat it. I often make a loaf of bread if I’m going to be traveling, because sometimes sandwiches are the easiest thing. Other than that, I make loaf bread only occasionally. I do enjoy baking biscuits or rolls to have with dinner at times, and that along with homemade gluten-free pizza takes care of my urge for bread. In place of bread, consider eating more salads, smoothies, dinner leftovers, or corn tortilla wraps. I also find that homemade granola bars are great for helping to fill me up.
If you are an oatmeal eater, then you know that gluten-free oats are expensive. Try out other whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, and sorghum. Cook them well, and add some spices and fruit. You might like them best in combination.
4. Shop around. You can now find gluten-free products at local grocery stores, health food stores, ethnic stores, and online stores. Shop around and remember to include the cost of shipping if you order online. It takes time to do price comparisons, but it can be worth while. The two online stores I use the most are Amazon and iHerb.
Some items at Amazon are part of their subscribe and save program which can save you money. If you do order from them, consider going through the above link, or any Amazon link on my site. When you do, I receive a small commission on any products you buy.
iHerb has good prices on the gluten-free products they carry, though what they offer is more limited than other places. I really like their shipping rate which is a $4 flat fee for orders over $40 being shipped anywhere in the contiguous United States. If you have never ordered with them before, you can use my code: LUT727 to save $5 on your first order and send me a little commission. I’m promoting these stores because they are the ones I use most, not because of the possibility of commission, but I do want to disclose the affiliate connection I have with them.
I’m no expert at pinching pennies, and I don’t do all of the above all the time. There are times when I choose to pay for convenience. I would love to hear your ideas. How do you save money on a restricted diet?
For more frugal ideas visit Life as Mom’s Frugal Fridays.