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Five Ways We Save Even With Dietary Restrictions

Guest post from Jenetta of Frugal Freebies and Deals

I started my gluten free journey four years ago. It was for health reasons. A couple years after I started eating GF we adopted two girls with special needs due to trauma. My doctor immediately recommended putting them on a GF which was no problem.

But about a year later, she recommended removing dairy and corn. Not corn! We live off corn, I thought, and it is in everything.

But I knew I could do it. I was good at the whole GF thing so I could be good at this, too.

If you are new to any dietary restriction I know where you are at. Just the diet change part makes you want to throw in the towel but adding in the “new budget” aspect is enough to make you want to go over the edge. I was there walking out of the health food store with the tiniest bag of groceries ever… and I paid $100 for it.

Plus, I knew I would need to come back and do it again in 3 days! Talk about frustration.

However, I have come up with some tricks to keep your budget in check. We keep our monthly budget for four (mind you the girls are just 6 and 7) at between $200-250 a month without a lot of coupons.

Here are some things that help us:

1. Change your perspective about the way you eat.

This will be different for everyone. For me, it took thinking about my food and what I really enjoy about it. Unless bread is really good I don’t care for it much, so I started eating burgers and sandwiches as more of a salad or lettuce wrap.

Stop trying to replace the food from your former diet with equal non-allergenic counterparts. Instead, start thinking outside the box for new, less expensive (and maybe more nutritious) foods.

2. Start shopping at new stores.

This sounds like a lot, but I have around 20 possible stores I shop at. Weekly, I try to shop at 3-4 of them.

The health food store might have markdowns on GF bread, non-dairy milks, and yogurt. Local grocery outlets have lots of cheap GF, dairy-free, and corn-free items. We have the $0.99 Only chain in our area and I routinely pick up organic produce and non-allergenic snacks for $0.99 (this store is on my weekly route). Local Asian markets sell GF pasta and flour for around $1.

This trick is going to be individual to you and your area. You need to remember that deals change often so you will have to be willing to buy what is available.

3. Stock up.

This is my biggest money-saver. You need to have money set aside for stock-ups.

If I find boxes of non-allergenic organic granola bars at the $.99 Only Store, I can purchase 20 boxes because I have stock-up money set aside. That deal is not going to last and it might be a while before such a good deal comes up again.

This goes for meats, flours, anything that you find at great price. Buy as much as you can use, afford, and store.

4. Buy online.

You don’t always get the best deal online, but there really are some finds. We try to eat a lot of grain-free meals, so we eat a good amount of nuts.

Recently I bought 30 pounds (yup) of pecans online because they were 1/3 of the price I can get them locally. They just went in the freezer and are already half gone. Vitacost, Amazon, and even Ebay are good sources for occasional great prices.

5. Make Your Own.

Don’t feel like you have to suffer. There are wonderful recipes online for GF and other dietary restrictions. You can even try making nut milks and then use the nut pulp for baking.

Those are the tricks I use to keep our allergy-free diet in line with our budget. You can use these ideas for any type of similar diet. I know you can do it.

Jenetta is a wife and mother of 2 daughters adopted from foster care.  She blogs over at Frugal, Freebies and Deals as well as Thrifty Wifey.

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  • Jessica says:

    I love this! I’m not gluten free but I avoid corn, flaxseed, peanuts, raw apples, raw honey, etc and it can be frustrating at times. Oh and my hubby can’t do soy or beans.

    When I follow the tips that Jenetta outlined it stretches my creativity 🙂

  • hannah says:

    thanks for this….as of now just my daughter is gluten free(celiac), but after we get our sons tested the whole whole probably will be….and we are struggling with the extra cost….thanks for all the great tips!!!

  • Great article Jenetta! You are so inspiring and even though you make it all sound like no big deal…you are awesome!

  • Great tips! I wish our health food store had good mark-downs. I always drool over Crystal’s deals at her health food store.

    I would add:

    ALDI – I start my shopping at Aldi to get what I can milk-free there. I hear they have some gluten-free options too.

    AZURE STANDARD – If you have a drop off for this coop in your area, you can save a lot on health foods. 🙂 It’s an easy, no-fuss coop.

    I enjoy the challenge of cooking/baking milk-free & nut-free and sometimes egg-free and gluten-free on a budget. It does help to know that we are saving a lot by not eating out EVER with our food allergy kids, too.

    And I would encourage everyone that it’s a journey to continue finding safe foods, experimenting in the kitchen, and fine-tuning the budget. I have been working on this for 7 years, and I still think I can do better! 🙂

    • I know.. all stores are different!! And the worst part.. if they get a new manager or people who does the mark downs the deals could go away!!

      That has happened to me many times. But that is why I keep so many stores on the rotation and if one stops being so good I just move on from it.. (and maybe check back every so often to see if anything has changed again)

    • Naomi says:

      My sister is GF. And initially we just did a lot of meat and potatoes dishes.

  • Jennifer says:

    I love your suggestions. It can be very frustrating sometimes to shop within the restrictions of my allergies. I have to limit my dairy consumption. I can’t eat onions or garlic (it is a familial allergy). It feels nice to know I am doing what I should be.

  • Kilah says:

    thanks for this article! I have dietary restrictions, but often throw them aside for convenience, comfort, routine, or just because. This was very inspirational. Hoping I can start making the changes I need to make so I can live a healthier (and more comfortable) life. The money-saving tips are crucial. In college, I suffered through the allergies because I thought I couldn’t afford to eat healthier. These kinds of articles really do help. Thanks again!

  • Dorothy says:

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Just 2 weeks ago I found out I had Celiac and after going to a health food store and paying $60 for one bag of groceries I was beginning to freak out. Normally my husband and I would spend $150 a month on groceries and here I was spending almost half of that on one trip with food that lasted me alone a week. I actually considered getting a second job at said health food store to cover my food expenses! I am 100% going to take your advice and try your suggestions.

  • michelle says:

    My son has egg, peanut, and gluten allergies and its hard. Gluten free snacks seethe hardest, and I have given up almost completely on bread. Every single baked good I have tried to make GF has been a disaster and it upsets me because the ingredients are so expensive and I feel like they are wasted. So I have started to do the first thing on the list – focus on the foods he can eat instead of trying to replace the things he cannot have with allergy free versions. And just this week we discovered that he loves dried cranberries, which are naturally gluten free and wonderfully portable. I do buy Vans GF waffled for him for quick breakfasts, and some enjoy life products. I am going to have to learn how to bake a GF, egg free cupcake for his birthday though!

  • These ideas are VERY helpful! Thank you! Our whole family is grain-free and have MULTIPLE food allergies.

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