Guest post from Jen of Working At Homeschool
Our grocery budget was unprepared when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease three years ago.
At the time, I was caught off-guard – I didn’t know anyone who had Celiac disease who could give us advice, and the grocery stores were filled with brightly colored gluten-free packaged foods that seemed like necessities (they weren’t).
My first shopping trip post-diagnosis was a total failure. I spent my entire monthly budget for food on one week of groceries! How could a family who had heavily relied on pastas, breads, and tortillas survive financially when the gluten-free counterparts were triple the cost?
We didn’t plan well and overspent immediately after her diagnosis; however, we have finally figured it out, and now our grocery budget (and our family) is healthier than ever!
Here are the 7 main ways we have lowered our grocery bill while eating gluten-free:
1. We use naturally gluten-free foods.
We plan our meals and snacks around foods that are naturally gluten-free like meats, eggs, dairy, vegetables, rice, quinoa, fruit, and nuts. We used to buy Goldfish crackers and granola bars, but my kids are just as happy with cheese sticks, almonds, and sliced veggies – which are a fraction of the cost!
2. We don’t buy pre-packaged gluten-free “replacement” foods.
Instead of pricey packages of gluten-free substitutes for pasta, tortillas, bread, and desserts, we substitute spaghetti squash, regular corn tortillas, and the kids’ favorite ice cream.
3. We buy in bulk.
We buy gluten-free flour in bulk when we find it at a decent price.
Most gluten-free foods are full of ingredients that aren’t very good for you, and gluten-free flours are no exception. But my daughter has cravings for yummy, homemade bread (and I don’t blame her!) so we stock up on gluten-free flour and make it as a special treat from time to time.
4. We don’t waste!
When we do make gluten-free bread, we use the heel ends or leftovers to make croutons or crackers.
5. We avoid more expensive “natural” stores.
If we do need to buy gluten-free, we make sure to buy online or at the local grocery store.
We’ve compared prices multiple times over the years and discovered that the staples can be found at Kroger or Trader Joe’s for a far better price than a specialty store known for gluten-free foods.
6. We buy regular cereals instead of specialty cereal.
My kids love cereal, and while we used to have to buy a separate box for my daughter because it was so expensive, now many cereals that have coupons available are going gluten-free. We can buy Chex, Cheerios, and several others without breaking the bank.
7. We research specially labeled “gluten-free” products before we buy them.
Some products (pure vanilla extract, for one) are naturally gluten-free – but some are marketed as a gluten-free product unnecessarily. A quick Google search revealed that most, if not all, pure vanilla extracts are completely gluten-free and there is no reason for me to spend an extra $4 on a specially-marked bottle.
These are just 7 ways we’ve saved money as a gluten-free family.
Have you cut out gluten? How do you save money?
Jen is a work-at-home homeschooling mom who works part-time on her website, workingathomeschool.com, part-time for a non-profit ministry, and full-time wrangling her 5 young kids. Jen writes passionately about Bible-based homeschooling, organization, healthy gluten-free food, and meal planning. While acknowledging that meal planning is an incredibly boring hobby to have, she is thankful that it works to the benefit of her readers as she provides monthly free printable healthy menus, meal plans, and shopping lists.
Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!