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Ask the Readers: Frugality with food allergies?

Your readers seem to be some very creative, frugal and inventive people
and I am really hoping they might be able to help me. I am having
trouble keeping my grocery budget under control, while also considering
my three year old's food allergies and introducing a variety of meals.

I have to completely avoid eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. But what is
more difficult is limiting wheat. My son can have wheat, dairy, soy,
corn, peas, bananas, and watermelon in moderation and on a revolving
schedule, but he's intolerant of the foods and too much puts his GI
system in turmoil. 

If there are any moms out there who have figured
out how to incorporate allergy-free foods into a modest grocery bill,
I'd love to hear them! –Summer

Do you struggle with food allergies at your house? If so, have you found ways to keep your grocery budget under control while still following a stricter diet? I'd love to have you share any ideas or suggestions you have for Summer.

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106 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    How bout calling some of those companies for coupons that produce some of the favorite foods for your son? I’ve done this with some success for my daughter who is lactose intolerant.

  • Jen says:

    I second asking for coupons and samples. I just emailed Sunbutter (a sunflower seed spread) and they sent me a small sample of the product and a $.75 coupon within a week. It’s always worth a try! 🙂

  • I don’t have any advice, but I am so glad that you’re posting this question. I have had the same one myself, as my husband has various food allergies. Thanks!

  • Christina says:

    First of all, I would reccoment cutting ALL intolerant foods out of your little boy’s diet. There’s no need to tax his system– all those foods’ vitamins are easily found in alternative foods, and by giving him a total break, his digestive tract may heal enough to allow him to later tolerate the foods completely.

    That said, I am soy and gluten intolerant, as well as lactose intolerant when stressed or pushed to consume lots of dairy… so I know how it goes trying to be healthy and varied cheaply! My husband & I have stuck to a $50 grocery budget each week since being married, though that is going to have to change now that I’m a ravenous pregnant woman. 🙂

    My main “trick” is going as far back as I can in the do-it-yourself process. Rather than buying a sauce or a soup, I make it myself — that way you KNOW you aren’t getting anything allergenic, and it’s healthier anyway, as well as less pricy. Brown rice goes great with anything, as do several other grains, like millet (which is very nutritious). Buy the whole grain and cook it yourself. Soups are filling, easy to make, and varied as you want. Make your own gluten (or wheat)- free bread. Rice or Quinoa pasta is readily available, and it’s easy to make your own sauce out of tomato paste or puree, finely diced veggies, spices, and a little oil & sugar. If your son can tolerate goat’s milk, you could try goat cheese & goat yogurt– both are quite tasty once you get over the difference between them & cow’s milk. Beans & lentils are CHEAP and SO good for you– easy to make into all sorts of tasty dishes. We love BBQ chicken in the crockpot- stick in chicken thighs & find a recipie for homemade BBQ sauce, and let it cook all day. YUMMY! You can make your own baked beans (or Bush’s vegetarian are wheat & soy-free), combine it with browned ground beef, and top it with either rice or homemade wheat/corn/soy- free biscuits– this is my husband’s favorite meal, and we call it Hobo Casserole. Fruits and veggies with hummus are a great side and snacks galore. Try salad with raisins and a yummy honey mustard or raspberry vinegrette, etc. The key is doing as much at home as possible. This allows you to control everything as well as keep costs down, and nutrients UP!

  • Denise says:

    Summer, my son also has a serious egg allergy. I stumbled upon an egg subtitute that works great in all baked goods and is a lot more frugal than using eggs anyway. You can subtitute 1 Tbsp. of milled flax seed(you can find this at Kroger near the flours) and 3 Tbsp. of water for each egg in your recipe.

    I would also recommend looking into a food co-op in your area. A lot of times you can find alternative butters, like sunbutter for example, and you can buy them in bulk for a lot cheaper than the prices on the shelf at your grocery store. I don’t know if it’s available in your area, but one good co-op I know of can be found at http://www.somethingbetternaturalfoods.com Hope that helps a little!

  • Leigh Ann says:

    This is so frustrating! We deal with peanut and tree nut allergies at our house and those really aren’t that difficult or costly to avoid once you get the hang of reading labels. Avoiding egg and wheat (especially) are much more complicated AND costly. I was put on a wheat/gluten-free diet for a time and I was blown away at how it completely blew our grocery budget.
    My tips would be:
    1. Buy a breadmaker. The funky ingredients (xantham gum, etc.) for wheat/gluten free bread are costly, but I believe that the outlay for ingredients and even the breadmaker are made up in the amount you can save when you’re trying to buy pre-made products with those ingredients. Once you have the strange ingredients on hand, I believe it’s pretty easy to find recipes online for other products such as cookies, cakes, etc. Breadmakers can usually be found pretty inexpensively and if you really do your homework, you can find special breadmakers with gluten-free cycles that actually help the texture of your bread through the mixing process.
    2. DEFINITELY call the companies for coupons and frequent their websites. I went to a food allergy walk a year ago and won a raffle–I NEVER WIN ANYTHING! :)– for a YEAR’s worth of Enjoy Life products. I don’t remember if their products are wheat free but they avoid all of the other allergens and they’re actually pretty tasty. That being said, those companies work really hard to keep customers happy and I bet they would love to send you some treats in the mail. Cherrybrook Farms often runs specials on their website. I know Target carries their stuff, but it’s crazy expensive and I believe their online sales are pretty decent. It’s probably worth it to “stock up”.
    3. Research, research, research. I’m sure you’re already doing this, but you might be surprised when you really start digging on the web to see what you can find that you can actually make yourself in the way of pre-made mixes, etc.
    4. Hang in there! I bet your son’s system will continue to get stronger and he’ll be able to handle more and more as he grows older. I know our son was just one big mess for a long time and the more time we give him and the more alternative medicine that we use (that’s another story, but if you’re interested, google “NAET”–it’s nothing short of a MIRACLE) the better he’s become over the last couple of years.

    It’s not easy being the Mom to a kid with food allergies. Make sure you’re a member of FAAN (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network)–they’re great at sending out recipes and tips and ideas as well as just being a support network for families like ours!

    Good luck!!
    Leigh Ann

  • Jess says:

    I have the same problem and my grocery bill is out of control.

  • Molly says:

    I have a severe dairy allergy (gi track issues), soy is getting worse, and eggs although not as severe as dairy. I haven’t had much luck with contacting companies, although I do know it works. There are coupons sometimes in my local paper, for % off an item at a health store. I haven’t gone in to use them, as the store is far away. It’s just myself and my husband, so meals are pretty basic, with a little one making things from scratch may be more difficult. But thus far I have found that making things by scratch seems to be the best, and more affordable then buy pre-made allergy free item (not as a general rule). Can’t wait to hear what others have to say!

  • Kim says:

    My son needs a wheat-free, egg-free diet. I have found that baking our own foods help. To help eliminate eggs I use Ener-G Egg replacer. You should be able to get it at a health-food store. It costs about $8 for 16 oz, which at first I thought was a lot. However, when you consider that you use 1 1/2 tsp per egg, you realize that it lasts a long time. I also make my own egg replacement using flax seed. Here is a tutorial on how to make the subsitute http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/11/frugal-egg-substitute.html
    I use the flax seed subsitute in most of my baking because it is cheaper and because it adds nutritional value to the food. If I am baking something that needs to rise a lot, like a cake, or if I am concerned about the texture, then I use the other egg subsitute. I also bought a good glutten-free cookbook. I liked the Glutten-Free Gourmet REvisded Edition (you should be able to find this in most libraries). The author also has a number of other cookbooks that have good recipes. I like her recipes because she often makes up mixes that cut prep time a lot. I make my own glutten free flour mix with a combination of rice flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch. I also buy xanthem gum at a health food store. It acts like glutten. Again, it is a little expensive, but it lasts a long time and it is worth it. I found that Asian stores often carry tapioca flour and rice flour cheaper than health food stores. For snacks at church, I buy wheat-free cereal and leave it there. It is cheaper than buying wheat-free crackers. We also use a lot of rice. Rather than serving something over pasta, we serve it over rice (I do this for most things except spaghetti sauce). We have a Trader Joes which has inexpensive rice pasta. Our family also uses lots of corn tortillas. I have even made pizzas using it as a crust. Just recently I have found a natural foods co-op which allows me to buy health food in bulk. You might like to ask around to see if there is one in your area. I hope these ideas help. I am looking forward to reading the other responses.

  • Holly G says:

    My daughter is allergic to corn, high frutose Corn Syrup and Yellow no. 5 dye. I cook everything from scratch. I also grow a garden and can a lot of our own veggies so I know what is in our food. Our motto around here is if it comes in a package we won’t buy it. (almost everything prepackaged has HFCS in it….) Our food budget is $75 a week but goes way down in the summer when the garden is producing. Our allergist gave us tons of recipes and articles about food allergies (I’ll have to dig around and see if I still have them…it has been over 5 years.) Another idea is yahoo groups, there are several out there for food allergies, join one of those and I’m sure you’ll get ideas, recipes and support!

  • Delores says:

    I also have similar challenges. One son is intolerant to dairy and another is intolerant of wheat and corn. And have you ever noticed how much corn syrup and other corn byproducts there are in foods? I basically have to second what many have already said: ask for coupons, make as much as you can from scratch, find a local food co-op. We have a local store that is run by Mennonites that supplies bulk foods. I buy regular oats and steel cut oats in 50 lb. bags and whole wheat flour and brown rice in 25 lb bags. There are 8 of us in my family. (They also sell them in pound size bags.) We eat a lot of rice cakes, and I have learned to make oat crackers. They are super yummy! We also eat a lot of potatoes. And we allow the “no-no” foods on Sundays and other special occasions — bdays, etc. A book I highly recommend is: “Is This Your Child?” by Doris Rapp. Try out other grains — rice flour, potato flour, spelt flour. It just takes experimenting and committing to cooking as much from scratch as possible. My dairy intolerant son just eats margarine and takes a vitamin. We are working on incorporating calcium into his diet in other ways. Hope this helps!

  • Lyn says:

    I have quite a few allergies and intolerances. Honestly, the best thing I have found is to limit pre-packaged food as much as possible. Allergen-free products are very expensive to buy, even with coupons. Cooking from scratch is your best bet whenever you can.

    My diet consists of mostly basic items – fruits, veggies, rice products, meats, seafood. Instead of wheat bread you could use rice cakes for example. I would also make sure to thoroughly read up on the allergies – there are many names that can be cleverly disguised but still are allergenic ingredients. Things like whey = dairy, autolyzed yeast extract = MSG, etc. Many people don’t realize this. Your main concerns will be wheat, dairy, corn and soy as these are in a lot of pre-made foods. Reading labels is something you’ll always have to be sure to do.

    For breakfast you could give him puffed rice cereal with fruit. Or how about smoothies made with rice milk. (There are rice protein powders you can add for extra protein.) For lunch/dinners, you can use rice pasta, but it is expensive (about $3 a package, but it’s an alternative). Tinkyada is probably the best brand out there to try. It sounds like he can have any type of meat or things like tuna/seafood which are helpful.

    FAN (foodallergy.org) is a good place to start. Also, try to remember it’s very hard to have a super-frugal budget with food allergies. Many of the inexpensive frugal ingredients I cannot eat (I eat little wheat in my diet), so it’s impossible for me to have as low a food budget as many others can. You can only do your own best.

    It is hard on anyone to have food allergies since food is a social thing with people. It’s especially hard on little ones I think because they don’t always understand and it’s hard to feel excluded from other children when they are able to eat things they cannot. If he attends regular school I would make sure that they know of his allergies as well.

    Sorry this is long but I hope it helps! I wish you the best.

  • Jennifer says:

    My daughter (8) has food allergies and I have had to totally change the way I cook because of it. She is allergic to dairy and eggs, and used to be allergic to beef, at least that is what they told me, I think it is more of an intolerance. She is fine if we have it once a week or so.

    Anyway, I know it seems limiting right now, but really there are so many other foods your child can consume. Your hardest ones are the dairy and egg, because they seem to be in everything. Wheat intolerance makes it even harder. You have to figure things out, read labels constantly and cook from scratch. Once you figure it out it will get easier.

    For eggs, there are many things you can replace egg with, but I have found Egg Replacer to be the easiest for me if I am replacing 1 egg. If I am replacing 2, I will use applesauce for 1 egg and the replacer for the other. Baking will never turn out the same, but if you eat it right away it will seem the same, the taste doesn’t change. Things just get very dense if they sit. I use rice milk as a substitute in cooking. I get it for $3 per 64 oz thing at Walmart. My dd drinks soy milk once a day, but mostly water or calcium fortified OJ. It was expensive when she was younger, I nursed her as long as I could (13 mo) but then had to switch her to a toddler soy formula for a few years. That was rough on the budget, much easier now because she honestly gets most of her calcium from foods.

    I figured it up a couple of months ago and I spend about $40 a month on special items for my dd. This includes the rice milk, egg replacer, soy milk, soy yogurt, special foods and treats to have around in case someone hands her candy or a cookie she can’t have, turkey products to avoid the beef, etc. I spend about $400 – $450 total on groceries for the 6 of us.

    You will find that you have to be brand specific on things. You can’t get the cheapest. You have to stick with the brands of things that work. Then it is more important than ever to stock up big time when you find a great sale.

    Really the best thing I did was learn to cook most things to accomodate my dd. I no longer make many of the recipes that I used to. I cook more from scratch so that I can use the substitutes for her. I have had to find recipes that will work for her and that is what we eat for the most part. Many recipes call for cheese, but it can be added at the end. So I pull hers out and then add the cheese for the rest of us.

    It will be a huge learning process for you, and lots of trial and error. You will figure it out because you have no choice, right? Just take the time to find the stores that have things the cheapest and then go there. When you hit a sale stock up. Stick to the basics. I agree with trying to avoid all the foods your child is allergic or intolerant to. Really things like peas and bananas are so easy to avoid. It will seem hard and overwhelming in the beginning, but it will get easier. Good luck!

  • My youngest son is anaphylactic to dairy. He is also allergic to eggs and peanuts, although we don’t know what the severity is.

    I recently wrote a post about our budget of $125/week (which also includes paper products, diapers, cleaning supplies, etc.) If you’d like to read it, here’s the address:

    http://boysrulemylife.blogspot.com/2009/01/2009-grocery-budget.html

    With food allergies, it is almost impossible to compare your grocery budget to that of a “normal” budget. Samples and coupons are few and far between for the products we need, however ebay has been a good source of coupons for me on certain allergy-free products.

    My full suggestion is to use coupons and samples, try to cook more from scratch if possible and get a price book together. Honestly, none of that is new from what MSM suggests. However, I would couple her suggestions with realizing that you may not be able to have as small of a budget as she does or even a comparable one. It took me a while to come to terms with that. 😉

    I look forward to reading other suggestions as I am always looking for new ways to save money!

  • Amy says:

    My youngest child is dairy free, egg free, citrus free, peanut free, and we limit wheat and soy. Our grocery bill is higher and I’ve just accepted that we won’t be able to shop for $50/wk like some families can. In a way it’s been good because I can’t buy most processed foods. Eating pizza rolls isn’t very healthy even if they are free but I’d probably be tempted by them if we could eat them. My kids eat lots of fruits and veggies. Bananas are fine for my son so we make lots of smoothies. Oatmeal is a staple breakfast item here. I buy it in 50 pound bags from a food co-op and it lasts us a really long time. Our biggest expense is non dairy milk. We don’t drink it so we don’t go through it as fast but I use it for smoothies and for cooking.

    I still clip lots of coupons though. I love getting a great deal and I donate a lot more to the food pantry than I ever have before.

  • Moe says:

    Summer – I’m having the same problems with my young son. I stumbled upon a website recently. (rfak.org), raising food allergic kids. I emailed the Mom who runs the site and blog and she had several great resources and has reached out to several of the allergen friendly companies and is starting to run different give aways. You might check it out. She has great recipes and replacement ideas. The pancakes made with banana instead of egg are a favorite in our house. Good luck.

  • Nicole says:

    I have had a lot of experience with this because my fiance is alergic to chocolate, nuts, eggs, mustard and a few others…I go to google and search for recipes containing items I have on hand and need to find alternatives. A good example is I got 30 free packs of tuna but tuna salad has mustard so I went and got recipes with out it!
    I think he is allergic to not of the cheep proteins and almost every salad I made before he came along.

  • We have food allergies. Wheat, dairy, soy and corn. I’m making meals for $5 or less without these ingredients! Come by any time. I have a “Gluten free” label, as well as a GFCFSF (gluten free, casein free, soy free) label. I also have another site http://www.gfcfsf.net with helpful information!

    Erin

  • Crissy Talley says:

    I am in tears right now and praising God for this post and the comments. My daughter has severely suffered from food allergies since she was 6 weeks old. She is some what better but just found out that she is allergic to rice as well and frankly I have been very discouraged the last couple of weeks. We have worked so hard on our grocery budget and God has been so gracious to us to work it to $200 a month. One of the best things we do is plant a garden and put up the veggies for when they aren’t in season. This has helped out tremendously. We also freeze bread/cupcakes and other baked goods just for her to have when needed. I hope this helps and thanks again for the post!

  • Rhonda says:

    My oldest son (now 16yo) is allergic to peanuts and treenuts — very easy items to live without. He’s known how to read a food label (and to decline food gracefully) since he was about 4yo. Until age 6, he was also lactose intolerant and was sensitive to eggs (doc said not a true allergy…all he did was projectile vomit..insert eyeroll here). Today he can tolerate the dairy and some eggs as long as they are cooked in something (i.e., not scrambled, fried, boiled, etc. but okay in cookies, cake, etc.).

    Before age 6yo he ate only lean meat, fish of all kinds, vegetables, rice, potatoes, french or italian bread, tofu, olive oil, oatmeal, and beans. He did fine. We still do not purchase prepackaged cookies, cakes, bread, donuts/pastries, etc. because of the nut allergies.

    As far as keeping the grocery costs down, I must admit to buying higher priced items for him (fish, e.g.) and the rest of the family eating cheaper stuff when our money was tight. My overall grocery budget wasn’t very big because we didn’t buy cereal, snacks/chips, etc. We just kept it simple.

  • Janeen says:

    Some of the other ladies hit on the very thing I would recommend. Cook from scratch. Use whole foods that don’t include your sons allergens. A meal of simple meats and veggies can go along way. Try not to use too many prepackaged items and you will be much better off. Anything prepackaged that you feel you can’t give up, call the company and ask for coupons. http://www.enjoylifefoods.com has coupons right on their website and I know others are more than helpful.
    We try to stick to the rule that if Grandma didn’t eat it, then we don’t either. It keeps a healthier menu and limits the amount of prepackaged, high cost food that we purchase.
    My other suggest is to menu plan. It has helped me get my grocery bill down. I only buy things that I need to make the meals on my weekly menu. I stick to the list with nothing extra. Having a food allergy doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank, it just means that you need to be extra creative. Good luck!!

  • April says:

    My children are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat, barley, rye, sesame and mustard. When they were first diagnosed, I spent a fortune on specialty foods for them. But 4+ years later, I spend around $300-$350/month on groceries (I also live in a fairly expensive area, so this number really is quite low!) The key is to make everything from scratch. It is cheaper, safer, and much healthier! The flax seed substitute mentioned above is great (as are all the other suggestions) but pureed pumpkin is also an inexpensive substitute for eggs in baked goods. And avoiding nuts is really not difficult at all when cooking from scratch. Yes, it’s takes a lot of time and energy, but it’s so worth it! Hang in there…it can be done!

  • aryn says:

    I was first diagnosed with 17 food intolerances as a child and put on a rotation diet. I reiterate the advice to remove all intolerant foods from his diet, at least for now. I can now enjoy everything except wheat and its relatives in moderation, but I couldn’t when I was a child.

    You’re going to have to start doing most of his cooking on your own to save money and avoid contamination/accidental exposure. Check out rice pasta and corn pasta as alternatives to wheat pasta. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, their brand isn’t bad. I would also check the library or half.com for a book on egg-free cooking to help you formulate recipes. I believe there are even egg-free, wheat-free, dairy-free cookbooks that will help you avoid everything!

    If he can have corn, corn tortillas are cheap and tasty. My mom used to send me to school with tortilla chips and cold cuts or tuna (no mayo for your son, though).

  • Melissa says:

    I eat completely gluten and nut free and understand how difficult it can be to enjoy this diet on a budget. A lot of my meals are based on rice, beans, corn, and potatos. Those items can be inexpensive so I try to base my weekly meals on those items. I never buy gluten free bread and seldom buy gluten free products (except for Tinkyada pasta). I stick to the basics.

    My town (Colorado Springs) has a gluten free bakery so I do splurge on a pizza crust or a muffin now and then. I think it keeps me sane! I wish you and your son well in your journey. Let me know if I can help you further.

  • Claire says:

    I can’t really add too much to what other commenters said. I have to cook dinners dairy- and egg-free, as my husband is allergic to both. It is totally possible to keep your grocery bill under control. One thing you have to realize is that when you hear people say that they spend $200 a month on groceries for their family (or some other such low number) that’s probably not going to apply to you as you have restrictions to work around. That’s OK – just work with what you have and keep trying new things. Definitely make as much as you can from scratch because these specialty products are very expensive.

    This won’t work for you because your son has a soy allergy also, but for other people who have egg allergy, another good substitute for an egg when baking is one heaping tbsp of soy flour and one tbsp water. Works even better than Ener-G or the flax seed substitute, in my opinion.

  • sara says:

    My daughter has a severe egg allergy (she is 18 months). I also was on an extreme elimination diet while breastfeeding for 4 of the 6 months I was able to do that. Through these experiences, the number one resource I have found is the Kids With Food Allergies Network. Their website is: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org

    They have a great recipe database that you “tell” it what to avoid. I have found that most of the recipes are very frugal and use “bulk” goods. It also contains a lot of ideas of things that I just never thought to put together (it is so hard to think beyond pizza, mac n cheese, chicken nuggets). Hope this helps!

  • Michele says:

    Such great comments above. Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? Their stores are often lower-priced than other natural food stores and they have many different foods available without certain allergens.

  • Katie says:

    My best tip would be to invest in a grain mill. It’s a pretty large initial investment, but in the long-run it so much cheaper than buying pre-ground specialty flours. With a grain mill you can make flour out of all sorts of alternative grains, and make your son’s wheat-free products that way!

    Hope this is helpful – best wishes!

    Katie

  • Mar says:

    Head over to 5dollardinners.com. She does gluten free-soy free-casein free for her sons.

  • Julie Kreke says:

    My daughter has many food allergies…and we eat all organic, so I can relate to high food bills! The best thing I have found is to make everything myself. Isabella’s gluten free prepared foods are very expensive, but with a little experimenting I was able to make them myself for a fraction of the cost. We eat a lot of whole foods, rice, beans, vegis, etc which everyone tolerates well and are really reasonable price-wise. I also use the flax seed egg-replacer from the Passionate Homemaking blog and have been pleased.
    While your son is young I would cut his questionable foods completely. My daughter has some tolerance to gluten (found in wheat, etc) but I was advised to avoid giving her these foods for now in hopes of avoiding a much more serious problem in the future.
    I came from a family where everyone had different food allergies and they were all extensive. At first it was overwhelming but it gets much easier with time! Hang in there!

  • Danielle says:

    My fiance and cousin both have the same SEVERE dairy allergy (no lactose, no casein, etc.–they’re in almost everything that’s prepackaged!). I also experience food allergy flare-ups when my seasonal allergies are in high-gear.

    I understand what you’re going through (I’m on a grad student budget in spendy-trendy SoCal). Your grocery budget and menu planning will resume a sense of normalacy once new routines are established.

    I promise! 🙂

    -To get the most “bang” for your buck, you need to cook from scratch. This also ensures the food is SAFE for your son. (My fiance has had to use benedryl and be rushed to the hospital due to cross-contamination too many times….)

    -Call companies and ask for coupons, sample products, to be a taster list, etc.

    -Linda Cross has an AMAZING food allergy cookbook entitled “What’s to Eat?” (This is how my severe-dairy-allergy fiance got to try pancakes, french toast, cookies, cakes, etc.). She also released a second book with more recipes (not sure of the name).

    -The “Gluten Free Girl” blog has AWESOME resources for GF diets. She has also released a book with her & her husband’s (the chef!) recipe’s in it.

    -Don’t be afraid to experiment with your substitutions! Those with food allergies deserve to eat a varied diet–take the dairy-free & nut-free recipes from Cross’ book and substitute any rice/bread with GF-approved rices, flours, or grains.

    -Dairy free substitutions: Nucoa margarine (I actually prefer this to real butter), Vegan Cheese (use the one that says “IT MELTS!” on the package…it’s the best!), egg substitutions can be found powdered in the Asian food aisle, or you can crack an egg and clean the yolk of any white membrane under running water (be prepared to go through ALOT of eggs to get a couple left intact–this works for both my fiance and cousin, both with the same severe allergy), make “cream” soups by liquifying boiled potatoes with soy milk (or rice milk) in the blender and spicing/adding variations appropriately….

    -Side Notes: Avoid cross-contamination by not letting your son drink out of anyone’s glass/straw/use the same spoon, etc. (Fiance had several “surprises” with this when he was younger). Additionally, depending on the severity of his allergy, ensure he has his “own” kitchen towel to use (you don’t want to wipe up a dribble of milk only to have him wipe his hands on the same towel and start breaking out in blisters and hives!). Finally, don’t hesitate to come up with your own labeling system for food to encourage his independence–pick a sticker, symbol, etc. that he (and other family members) can recognize and understand that ‘that food is ok for _____ to eat.’

    Blessings!

  • Lori says:

    I TOTALLY understand your dilema. There are six people in my house, 2 of the children are diabetic, 1 child is gluten intolerant and the others are along for the ride! And what a CRAZY ride it can be. I just find that I shop 75% around the perimeter of the store. If you buy it fresh and make it yourself, it is healthier and cheaper. I like to go to the store in the mornings (though I don’t always make it). I find that the produce, meat, and dairy departments have various items marked down then. Also, I go to brand websites and hunt printable coupons. It is tough, but can be done, it just takes more prep work! I have thought our budget was out of control, until I talk to others to find that we are doing pretty good, for the way we eat!

    Good Luck!

  • My son has severe Peanut Allergy and an intolerance to milk and dairy, and like many others have suggested, the most inexpensive (and healthy) route I’ve found is to make as many things from scratch as possible. Join a co-op if there’s one in your area and/or check out http://www.localharvest.org/ to find great healthy and organic foods that are central to your location.

    Watch for sales and coupons for baking items and stock up. I’ve had pretty good luck requesting coupons from companies by emailing them. Not always, but I have gotten quite a few!

    Buy in bulk whenever possible to also help with costs. I bake all of my own bread, rolls, buns, muffins, cookies…etc…from scratch. Same goes for our meals. I make as much as possible from scratch. Then I know exactly where the food is coming from and what’s in it.

    I plan to start a garden this year. If it’s something you’re interested in, you can save a lot by canning and freezing your bounty for the winter!

    Buy in-season fruits and vegetables for further savings, and stock up. I’d also recommend googling the particular food allergies that you’re dealing with in order to find blogs that are food allergy related. There are many out there full of great information and helpful tips!

    I would be a bit concerned about giving him any of the foods he’s intolerable to as it could further damage his GI tract…even small doses over time can amount to damage… (It’s a common mistake a lot of people make…and aren’t aware of…)

    Good luck and I look forward to reading all of the suggestions that are left here!

    ~ Jennifer

  • Rachelle says:

    My kiddo is allergic to eggs and peanuts as well. She’s 14 months. I just discovered a blog recently called egglesscooking.com and she’s talked about several different egg substitutes (flaxseed, vinegar, fruit puree) and has a lot of recipes posted. I made banana bread earlier this week with vinegar instead of an egg and it came out great! It’s nice to have some creative, and cheap, alternatives out there.

  • Stacy says:

    I second (third, fourth?) rice as a good and not too expensive gluten free starch. If you buy in bulk and get a cheap rice cooker its easy to make. Potatoes also make a good starch and are gluten free.
    If you cook rice pasta or something like that, cook it separate from everyone else’s. Repackage his leftovers for lunches or dinners for the next few days. That way it will stretch further.

  • Karen m says:

    It seems to me that you still have some cheap foods available to you, for example I’m thinking about beans/lentils and brown rice, would those be tolerated? How about making a list of all the foods that you can use and researching which ones are the cheapest? It is always more helpful to think in the positive like that then just to look at it from the point of view of what you CAN’T have. I like what the other posters have said about doing the research online and finding good recipes to make products from scratch and making your own mixes, the nice thing about this is that the food would probably be a lot better for you as it wouldn’t have any chemicals/preservatives in it. Finally I think that if you only have a small number of foods to choose from that are easily tolerated, being organized and having a well thought out meal plan would be invaluable, and, always remember that though you may think you know all the foods that are well tolerated, if you keep an open mind and keep researching/reading about food allergies and special diets, you may be surprised at all the helpful things you learn! There are plenty of moms out there who have had this exact same problem, and a lot of them post on very helpful websites and share what they have learned, this could be so helpful to you (though I’m sure you have been busy already doing your homework). God bless you and your three year old, I really hope as he matures he will be able to tolerate a wider variety of foods, but in the meantime I’m sure you can keep him healthy with what he can eat. Hope this was helpful to you.

  • Jessica says:

    I used to work in a health food store and we were commonly patronized by the local celiac’s community. I know it doesn’t entirely fall all the way into the category your son is dealing with, but they all had amazing luck working with the Mayo Clinic. Mayo had binders of healthy recipes and meal plans.

  • Emma says:

    My son has egg, dairy, wheat, oats, and peanut allergies. Since he can have corn and rice I buy cereals at the regular grocery store instead of the health food store for him.

    I also make and freeze allergy free pancakes, waffles, muffins for him batches at a time instead of buying the premade frozen ones.

    I’m currently experimenting on making homemade bread and rolls instead of buying expensive gluten free bread.

    We use a lot of vegetables, rice and meats when we cook. When I get stuck in a rut I search for vegan free and gluten recipes which usually have replacements for all the foods he can’t have built into the recipes.

    I also use Crisco to cook with in place of butter and Flax seed to replace eggs.

  • Heather Dickinson says:

    I personally am allergic to gluten, soy dairy, and eggs. I have enjoyed reading others suggestions. It has taken awhile but the best ways I have been able to reduce my food budget is
    1) making more things from scratch from gluten-free cookbooks (I put the dry ingredients in pre-made bags like was suggested on this website to make my own mixes)
    2) getting the gluten-free shopper’s guide
    http://www.ceceliasmarketplace.com/buy-now.html
    I just noticed they have one for dairy and soy, too!
    With it I can get almost all of my products from a grocery store allergy free so I don’t have to buy most things at a specialty store. (just mainly bread ingredients).

    3) I use these substitutes to make most any recipe allergy friendly and yet yummy. . .perhaps you can use some of these and find ones for your off-limit items not on my list. I found most of these doing a google search.

    For gravies, or breading meats I use Bob’s Bread mill gluten free all purpose flour

    For egg replacers I use the two mentioned about (flax and water or egg replacer)

    For dairy replacement, I use a rice cheese, or use olive oil and salt instead of butter (in mashed potatoes, on baked potatoes, in recipes). In baking Recipes you can substitute coconut oil, applesauce, lard or spectrum baking shortening). For milk, I use rice milk.

    For soy replacement I use 8 oz. gluten free molasses to 3 oz. cider vinegar. It can be used instead of soy sauce (add salt), worcheshire sauce, or tamari.

    By using these substitutes I can make about anything and most people coming over for dinner that don’t have allergies would never know.

    3. I use specialty gluten free breads, and cheeses sparingly. Just enough to enjoy them, but not enough to cost a ton. I make a lot at a time, freeze them and then toast them in the toaster.(my gluten-free toaster. I’m that sensitive!)

    4. I get whatever I can at the grocery store at rock bottom prices, so that I can afford to spend a little more on specialty stuff. If it’s on sale, and allergy free at the grocery store I really stock up.

    I buy bread at a bread outlet store for those in my family that can eat it.

    Hope that helps!

  • Jenn says:

    We are a family of Celiac’s, with 2 little girls that have dairy allergies as well. Because of our food issues, we firmly believe that we should be prepared, and take care of ourselves. We’re big on emergency preparedness around here. We made sure that we had 72 hour kits that would provide for us in an emergency. Then, we started building our own “grocery store”/food storage. We buy in bulk and rotate our storage. My grocery bill for a family of 5 is under $400/month. It’s nice to only grocery shop for sale items and what I can’t grow in my garden. Oh, and I’m a working mom, so I don’t spend all day in the kitchen to make this happen. Good luck!

  • Heather says:

    P.S. By buying most things not at a specialty store, I meant I discovered through that guide that Safeway brand, and Albertsons brands are often gluten free. Also, many name brand products at regular grocery stores are too (and Trader Joe’s products). If in doubt about something (not in the guide) I called the company. I was surprised at how many things had gluten in them that I hadn’t realized because it wasn’t clear on the packaging.

  • Jen says:

    Our family avoids eggs, wheat, dairy and peanut due to my childrens’ food allergies. To keep costs under control and safe for my son, who is super sensitive, we keep meals and snacks simple. I use the crock pot a couple of times a week. Our favorite cookbooks are actually my grandmother’s, especially the ones that she has collected from church fundraisers. They tend to have recipies that do not include premade ingredients, are simple, and are someone’s family favorite. I try to make double or triple batches of anything homemade and freeze.

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for posting this! All of my three (soon-to-be-four) babies have very sensitive systems from the very beginning, so I have had to cut out dairy, wheat, citrus/tomato products, and some chemicals in processed foods that I just could never put my finger on. This translated into not a lot of variety in the beginning. What I’ve found is that planning ahead really is key. I make most of the things from scratch to avoid the processed food chemicals (dairy is in a ton of packaged foods under different names). I also learned about other grains to incorporate other than wheat (rice, oats, quinoa, etc.) I had some on hand always. Some grocery stores also will carry a wider variety of grains so that you can avoid health-food stores, which can be higher in price. For me, it was just a lot of pre-planning and making things from scratch. I hope this can help a bit – good luck to you. It was be difficult managing food allergies. Hopefully you can get lots more tips from the posters here as well!
    Melissa

  • Wendy says:

    Because of our boys, we at dairy, nut , egg, shellfish and beef free in our house. We buy the Costco generic soy milk in a case of 12 – we found this the most economical way to buy it. As for baking, I never found the Egg replacer to work well for things that were expecting eggs. I make Rice Krispy treats (with Fleishman’s margarine, no dairy products) when they need to go to a birthday party and can’t eat the cake, pizza or ice cream. Cherry Brook Kitchen cake/pancake/cookie mixes also work well. Yes, they are lot more expensive than the $1 cake mixes but here in New England, we have Ocean State Job lot and I have stocked up on them for $3/box. Amazon.com also sells them in a package of 6 for about $24 so it’s still cheaper than the $5+ at the grocery stores. We have also found Trader Joe’s has some “safe” foods for the kids and they are cheaper than Whole Foods (i.e. Waffles are egg free and taste good, mini chicken tacos have no cheese, cooked sausages). For cereal, we just stay away from the ones that have nuts and dairy in them and with the coupons and deals out there, we often can get them for $1 or less/box. Frozen veggies are also bought cheaply with coupons. My kids like soy yogurt and I always buy it with a coupon from http://www.stonyfield.com/coupons/signin.cfm.

  • Emily Ann says:

    I am so glad we are getting to hear from others in this same situation! My son is allergic to milk, egg and shellfish. He drinks rice milk (which has been on sale at Publix lately) and we just avoid all other dairy. I use applesauce as a replacement in baking and so far it has worked in everything. I just know what I can and cannot buy for him, and other than that he eats quite a bit of plain vegetables, fruits and meat. I will buy organic snacks that are dairy free only when they are on sale. Smart Balance butter is dairy and gluten free and there are coupons out for it right now. We actually used this before our son was born and we really like it. I just make sure that I give him enough vegetables and fruits throughout the day that he is getting the nutrients he is possibly missing from foods he is allergic to. Stocking up on Kroger frozen veggies when they go on sale helps me always have veggies on hand to give him. We just try to have a positive outlook on the allergy, no matter how difficult it may be at times. I am thankful that the Lord has given us the patience and time to be able to really look into the foods we are feeding our son, and to make sure he getting proper nutrition. I am enjoying reading other responses to this question–it seems that food allergies consumes a good bit of my thoughts lately, and advice from others is always good to hear!

  • Cher says:

    I think you wold find it helpful to look online for paleo recipes especially since you are having trouble eliminating wheat. You should be able to find balanced, healthy, and yummy meals for the whole family. This will help with the planning aspect of preparing meals. It can be really stressful figuring out a menu especially while looking around the grocery store for inspiration. I do sympathize! If you have a plan before you go to the grocery store it should cost a significant amount less. Our veggies and fruits for the week this past week were $20, for example and we loaded the refrigerator. I plan the meals around what is on sale in the produce department. I buy lean meat when it is on sale and stock the freezer. I only shop the rim at the store with the exception of buying an occasional spice. Hope these tips help and sorry you’ve been going through all of this. Best wishes!

  • Ashley says:

    My daughter may have some dairy intolerances, so I was looking up some dairy free websites today with recipes and found http://www.godairyfree.org. I REALLY recommend it! A lot of the stuff was made with stuff I use from my pantry anyhow…like milk made from potatoes? Way cool! Anyhow, there’s a lot of stuff in there for vegan and peanut allergies, etc. So you could search through and see what you can find!

    I would recommend trying to make and bake as much as you can from scratch…and YAY for breadmakers! Try to set a day or two a week…or even a month just to bake up what you can (or double and triple recipes when you bake normal dishes, so it doesnt feel so tedious) and then FREEZE them. Plus, this means you can stock up on ingredients in huge sizes to save more.

    Good luck!

  • Min says:

    Have you tried your local farmer’s market or Asian food store? My daughter has an intolerance to lactose and wheat. I buy rice pasta and tofu noodles for her at the Asian market. They sell all kinds of non wheat noodles there, like sweet potato and seaweed based. The noodles are fairly cheap.

    I make her breakfast cereal from a mix of brown rice, millet, kamut, spelt and quinoa that I get from the local farmer’s market. It is expensive but she eats only 1/2 cup at a time, so 30 dollars worth of raw grain equals six months of cereal. For a bread substitute, I use corn tortillas.

    Good Luck!

  • Shelly! says:

    Summer,

    I’m so glad you posted this as I’m excited to read the tips as well!

    Our son has Celiac – so no gluten (wheat, rye, barley, etc). I totally agree with Christina when she says to take out the stuff that taxes him if you don’t need it.

    We’ve found the following three things to be helpful:

    (1) we make our own bread using a breadmaker (or the oven sometimes) and using a packaged bread mix. We make it last an entire week- at least. This means we’ve completely changed our relationship with bread. Sometimes the boys (I have two) get sandwiches but other times they get rice cakes with a variety of toppings.

    (2) We do not try to purchase gluten free versions of packaged food. We did for a while – chicken nuggets, for example. Now we make everything we possibly can. It’s meant that we’ve shifted our diet too away from lots of packaged and processed foods.

    (3) Use online shopping! I do lots of shopping (for bread and flour mixes) on Amazon.com and Celiac.com. Amazon has that super-saver shipping so if I find a good deal I can get it and not have to pay shipping. The bread mix on Amazon is $2 less per mix than in our local stores!

    (4) Fresh fruits and veggies as much as possible whenever possible.

    Thanks for getting the topic started! I read this blog every day but often times – especially where couponing is concerned – I cannot relate! I haven’t seen too many coupons that fit our needs 🙂

    Good luck!

  • Harmony says:

    I have a friend who is allergic to wheat, and she uses a lot of foreign food in her diet, particularly Asian. Examples: buckwheat (soba) or sweet potato starch noodles (glass noodles) from an Asian grocery store instead of the wheat based noodles, making rice as a staple for your meals instead of bread, etc.

    If you have an international grocery store nearby, you might be surprised at how inexpensive it is compared to the health food items at your local American grocery. My husband and I spent a month eating just Korean food and our food budget dropped by about 25%. The biggest hurdles are that the staff often don’t speak English very well and that you might have to check a little harder to find an ingredients list in English. But I manage in the Hispanic grocery store without knowing Spanish, so it can be done. 😉

    Most true Asian diets (ie not the Americanized versions we’re used to) are low in gluten, dairy, and tree nuts, but they are high in soy. They lean heavily on rice rather than wheat. If you try Northern European diets, you’re going to get a lot of oats and rye and barley instead of wheat. Do some research and see if any foreign cuisines are primarily based on foods that your family can eat, and then do some experimenting to see if your family enjoys that style of food. If so, you might have found your answer. Ethnic food is (in my experience) a lot cheaper than American health food.

  • Erin L. says:

    I’m in the same boat. My 3 year old is allergic to eggs, rice, beef, turkey, and lamb. If anyone knows where I can find pork ONLY pepperoni I would love to know.

  • We don’t have allergies, but I have noticed that this site has recipes (and are working on a budget) that are generally gluten-free.
    http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

    And this one, which is not really budget conscious, but has beautiful pictures and great recipes:
    http://www.elanaspantry.com/

  • Angela says:

    Check out a book called “Sophie Safe Cooking” it is available from Amazon.com and uses common ingredients to make healthy foods free of all the top common allergens you listed (and they actually taste good too!!!). I have some other allergy cookbooks and this is by far the best for kids AND the budget. You won’t need to go to any specialty stores to make the stuff in this book. My son has almost the same allergies and he also is three (you are not alone!). I make my own oat flour for his baking (banana muffins, cakes, etc) by buying regular oatmeal and grinding it in a blender. Baking with oat flour is really yummy and easy. I have found other flour substitutes do not pass the taste test by him (and me!) and they are pricey! You posted that you avoid wheat…but did not say if gluten or just a wheat intolerance as we just have wheat allergy but not gluten so oats are AOK.

    We have a few specialty products we always buy (Clif Kid Honey Graham Z Bars and Nature’s Choice Wheat Free Cereal bars). It is nice to have SOME things you can just buy and stick in your purse or car to have on hand for snack and so we just budget that in. Hope that helps.

  • Elisarose says:

    My son (age 4) is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree-nuts. These are all life-threatening allergies and we always carry benadryl and an epi-pin. We also have 4 other children. So with 7 eaters – one w/ food allergies – it has been quite the challenge to keep him safe, eat a variety of foods, and keep the budget low!

    It was overwhelming at first, but now it is second nature to scan the ingredient list when checking out a product. The nutritionist at the allergy clinic we go to gave us a lot of good suggestions and hints. Many restaurant websites have food allergy info listed on them. I have typed up a list of what he can have at a number of restaurants and I carry that with me in my purse. I’ve also given a copy to the grandparents. I also carry “safe” candy (smarties, sweettarts) in my purse so he can have a treat in the grocery store when the other kids get to eat the samples.

    We buy rice milk for him to drink. I’ve found the cheapest rice milk at Food Lion in a shelf-stable container in the baking aisle. He used to drink soy milk. FYI, the Wal-Mart brand of soy milk is manufactured in a facility that also processes dairy. It’s cheaper, but not worth the risk for me.

    The egg substitute that I use is 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 Tbsp. water, 1 tsp. baking powder mixed together for 1 egg. This will work in baking recipes with 1 or 2 eggs. In muffins, I just use water in place of milk. In meatloaf, I just leave out the egg and I use oatmeal for the bread crumbs.

    When I take food to a church dinner, I make sure that what I bring, he can eat. It’s easy and cheap to make a cake or pie that he can eat and everyone else can enjoy as well. For frosting, I use shortening instead of butter. Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine is also dairy-free. We eat soy-butter instead of peanut butter.

    Linda Coss’ cookbook has been very helpful. I want to get the new one she just put out. She also has written a book that everyone who has an allergic child should read – “How to Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies”. Very informative, helpful, encouraging. It tells you how to protect your child in every different situation. There are also a number of different forms that you can copy and use in the back (i.e. doctor’s not for carrying an epi-pin on an airplane, letter to give to a restaurant manager, script for calling a food company, etc.). Did you know that our allergic children are covered under the disabilities act – at a theme park, for example, they have to be allowed to be able to carry “safe” food in with them?!

    I’ve not had great success in getting coupons from companies. I hope that soon they’ll realize it’s not just people who have extra money buying their products. We’re kind of captive consumers…

    But the less-processed the veggies, fruit, meat is the safer it is. We have taught all our kids to wash their hands after they eat “allergic” food and to make sure their brother doesn’t touch it. We have taught him to watch out for himself and not to eat anything unless one of his parents has cleared it. (My husband is a pastor, so there’s lots of people at church who like to feed the pastor’s kids!). When he was a baby, my mom cross-stitched a bib for him that said “Allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree-nuts. Ask my Mommy first!” I made him wear it anytime we were out anywhere. And the cross-contamination issue- what good is it to eat “safe” jelly after a knife with bits of peanut butter has been in there?

    There’s a lot to think about to keep him safe, and also to eat healthy and cheap. We have a budget of $70/week. That includes everything (food, diapers, lightbulbs, everything). It is doable, but it’s a lot of work!

  • Finding a co-op has helped us stay in budget while finding items that work with our food allergies. Take a look at http://www.azurestandard.com and see if they deliver to your area. They have great prices, and it wasn’t too hard to go in with a few friends to meet the minimum requirement.

  • Hi there Summer. I do not deal with food allergies personally, but I have two nephews who have differing allergies. My sister, in my opinion, is a saint. She deals with the allergies everyday, and by avoiding those foods that even cause moderate reactions, she has helped her boys tremendously . Furthermore, she is one of the most frugile shoppers I know!!! You can check out her blog for some great ideas; she is always posting “safe food” recipes and finds, as well as ways to shop for allergy-safe food on a modest budget. Her blog is:
    milkallergymom.blogspot.com

    I really think she can help you!!! Best wishes, and God bless!

  • Katherine says:

    My 5-year old son is allergic to peanuts, cashews, pistachios, egg, milk, soy and wheat. His older brother outgrew his egg allergy at age 2, but he’s still allergic to milk, and my husband is on no-yeast, no-sugar diet, so I know what you’re going through! I also try very hard to keep our diet all natural and buy organic food as much as possible. Our monthly grocery budget (food plus toiletries & household items) is $350. I’ve only got a couple suggestions to add to the wonderful ones already offered:

    Shop around for the specialty items you need just like you would for ‘normal’ food. Price compare, look for sales, and use coupons. Super Target and Kroger carry more and more, but I’ve found that the normal prices for specialty foods at major grocery chains are usually higher than at our local health food store. However, the major grocery chains put things on sale more often. I’ve scored some sweet deals on specialty foods on clearance at Kroger – probably because they don’t move off the shelves very quickly. It helps me to keep a price list using the HandyShopper program on my Palm, so if I see Rice Dream, for example, on sale at Kroger, like it is this week, I can check to see if it’s actually less expensive than the normal ‘best price’ in my area.

    I don’t know where you live or if you have a store like this in your area, but I’ve recently discovered Town Talk in Fort Worth, TX. We live south of Dallas, but it’s worth the 45 minute drive once a month or so. They are a grocery store that buys up and resells things from stores that have gone out of business, out-of-date items, slightly damaged goods, etc. They get in a lot of natural, organic and specialty foods and sell them for insane prices. For example, last month I bought my son a box of Enjoy Life cookies for $.50! I’m not even sure how you could go about looking for a store like that in your area, but try asking around.

    Amazon.com sells Bob’s Red Mill products (which I love – check out their website bobsredmill.com if you haven’t already) by the case for better prices than I can find in the grocery stores, especially if you use their “subscribe and save” option.

    My last suggestion has to do with mindset. I’ve found that it takes a lot of self-discipline not to let my desire to ‘treat’ my food-allergic children break the budget, especially on special occasions. I have to remind myself that food isn’t the most important thing in life. Make or buy the occasional treat, but try to find other inexpensive, non-food ways to do something special for them, too.

    Thank you for posting this question – it has encouraged me to read comments from so many other moms who deal with food allergies!

  • These may be repeats as there are a TON of comments already (which is awesome – I’m bookmarking this!).

    I’m a celiac (no wheat, oats, barley or rye) and have crohn’s disease. My daughter is intolerant of cow’s milk (cheese is fine – milk, ice cream, more than a touch of sour cream is not) and allergic to egg whites – but cooked in things like pancakes and breaded things she’s fine (I also am allergic to RAW egg white, but fine when cooked).

    I spent a lot of time getting to know some allergy message boards and communities. I belong to celiac.livejournal.com and get heads up from members in there about special sales – especially places like Amazon (who happens to have Annies products on sale this month, including gluten free (GF) mac and cheese). I take advantage of different opportunities like setting up orders on Amazon to repeat delivery – even the first time I’m trying something – because it lowers the cost of your order and you can cancel the repeat delivery if you don’t like it.

    I shop at a local co-op for things like rice flour, tapioca flour… and I talk to the knowledgeable people that work there for tips that might save me more money.

    If you have a Trader Joes near you, they have the best prices I’ve found on rice pastas and rice bread (that’s decent when heated) and AMAZING rice tortillas!

    Regarding regular grocery shopping, I just try to get the best deals possible on the rest of my grocery order to leave more money for the specialty foods. And I try to use them sparingly.

    As far as my daughter and her cow’s milk intolerance, she uses goats milk. I’m thankful that is an option through WIC, because it is not something that we would be able to afford regularly right now.

    I hope that helps a little – I know all the responses will help me and my family, so thanks for asking!

  • Jennifer says:

    I hope to hear some more good posts, my husband was recently diagnosed with food allergies to Wheat, Soy, Corn, Nuts, Eggs and Citrus. One or more of these are in basically everything. My husband really likes the Envirokidz “Koala Krisp” cereal, I was able to find it on Amazon.com for $1.50 cheaper a box.I was able to find a recipe for cream soups because everything we made before used those. Certain brands of sketti sauce are OK so I wait for those to go BOGO. Searching the internet for recipes and learning how to substitute are my best tips!

  • Gena says:

    My son has an allergy to some food colorings and he is also mildly lactose intolerent. He can have a small amount of milk if it is cooked in foods such as mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. Honsetly I have found that cooking from scratch and supplementing with sale items/coupon shopping has been the most cost effective plan. It also ensures that my son doesn’t “accidentally” get something he shouldn’t not to mention the fact that it is a healthier choice anyway. Best of luck to you, food allergies can be very frustrating I know! 🙂

  • Shayleen says:

    When my daughter was younger, she was intolerant to certain food also. The allergist did tell us to cut out all of those foods (even if she could handle a little bit). She told us to wait almost two years and then introduce it like a normal diet (not necessarily slowly). We didn’t end up waiting that long, but she did outgrow her intolerance. Thank goodness. Another thing the alergist said is that they don’t have to have a huge variety of foods. They can have four or five different meals just rotated and be absolutely happy and healthy with that. She reminded us that most times we eat the exact same things for lunch (like a sandwich) and breakfast and so we shouldn’t worry about the variety things so much.
    Best of luck!

  • Jennifer B says:

    Wow–this question received a lot of excellent comments! I don’t think I can add too much to what has already been said, but I did want to suggest that you get in touch with a local support group. Even if you don’t need the emotional support, you can get great tips on local deals on products that you need as well as recipes, and other helpful tips. For example, one food allergy mom in my town sent a group email to alert everyone that Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes being sold at a great discount. We all quickly stocked up for a while! Please continue to take advantage of online resources. I’ve compiled a list of blogs written by food allergy moms of kids with multiple food allergies which you may find useful as well–many of them share recipes and other helpful tips. Feel free to email me if you think the list would be useful–jennifer@foodallergybuzz.com. Best wishes in this food allergy journey.

  • Shayleen says:

    “eggs” from unflavored gelatin (knox) – buy in bulk at bulkfoods.com. Gelatin is less expensive than powdered eggs (as little as 3 cents per “egg”) and has an indefinite shelf life and works well in all recipes (that have been tried).
    1tsp gelatin = 1 egg
    1 oz gelatin = 12 tsp
    1 pound gelatin = 192 eggs
    Making one egg: Combine 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin with 3 Tbsp of cold water and stir until dissolved. Then add 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp of hot water and stir. When using your own recipes, decrease the liquid called for in your recipe by about 1/4 cup to compensate for the added water from the “egg.”

    (This information is taken from Katie DeWitt’s presentation: “Everything Under The Sun”)

  • Barbara O'Hara says:

    I myself have always been gluten intollerant. My baby boy has such a sensitive system that we actually have had to cut out all of the top 8 allergens. After only 3 months of being a “hypoallergenic” cook – I think that I’m geeting pretty good at it. The good news is that, according to the GI specialist at Vanderbilt Childrens, he may grow out of some of these in years to come, but only if we allow his little system to heal and avoid attack.
    – I loved the advice from godairyfree.com.
    – I buy potato milk in bulk – it’s a powder that can be stored ,so since I bought the 25lb bulk amount it will be no more costly than buying regular milk – I just have a years supply of it (that I vaccum sealed). Not only can it be drunk, but also baked with, used to make homemade yogurt and smoothies, and allergen free ice cream – which I am getting pretty good at – I must say.
    – When I was “just” gluten free I loved rice crispies and frosted flakes – pretty cheap.
    – You can make your own allergen free crackers with a spritz gun, just a bit more work – but pretty fun.
    – I make up the allergen free bakingand pancake/waffle mixes in bulk and in different forms and freeze for easy breakfasts. for example, I have a waffle iron that is the shape of mini donuts – so I make allergen free donuts – you have to put alot of nutmeg and cinnamon in them though.
    – Just a note – info from our GI doctor – when you over process rice (ex.rice milk) a soy protien becomes present. Which explained why my son had such a HORRIBLE reaction to rice milk – even if it were just baked in something. Also their are only 2 baby rice cereals that do not have this soy protien. One is Earth’s best organic, and the other was not one I recogonized, so I already forgot what it was.
    – I cook our brown rice with my homemade chicken stock and it tastes great! Lots of flavor and extra nutrients.
    – Make your own stock from leftover bones (chx or beef) to use in just about anything. It’s hypoallergenic, packed with nutrients, and super chearp.
    – AND MY BIGGEST TIP FOR HELPING KIDS WITH ALLERGIES – this will take extra effort on your part Mom’s, but it’s really worth it for your little ones — Pretend that you have the same allergies as your kids – b/c if you are eating like they are then you are much more likely to find alot of foods to incorporate in their diets that actually taste good, rather than settling with say a list of only 5 things that pass the test. I believe that this is why I was able to perfect “ALL FREE ICE CREAM” – because I really wanted ice cream.
    – ALSO – this does not qualify under the catagory of cheap – but is serves a purpose – get their guts back to normal – eliminte to offender, provide benificial flora/fauna, and UP UP UP the nutrients. You can truely have “smoother sailing” from there. The best thing that we ever did was start drinking Monavie (think super nutrients and antioxidants with the nutrient content greater than anything you have probably ever drunk) – totally regulated digestion and got our entire days requirments of nutrient in, reguardless of what we ate or didn’t eat. Once you start healing, you can go from there.

  • Summer says:

    WOW! Thanks for all the feedback. I have gotten pretty good at healthy dinners from scratch…but I’m still challenged by baking with gluten free flours. I think it will just take a little more time and experimenting to get it right. Thanks again for all the advice. Dealing with the allergies is so overwhelming at times and it is wonderful to hear that others are managing well within a budget. I have heard wonderful things about Trader Joe’s – maybe it’s worth the hour drive to check it out. I do have an Asian-American marketplace in my small town that I never thought to check out. And I just recently bought a house with a backyard so a spring garden is in my future! Now I just have to look into food co-ops. You are all so wonderful! Thank you!

  • wendy says:

    We also have a child with food allergies. Trader Joes is a good place to find low cost food. Their employees have gone out of their way to help me find products. They also carry a few products that aren’t Trader Joes brand at a lower cost and they take coupons. Costco sells rice milk in bulk. Enjoy Life Foods brand is allergen free and they have coupons on their web site. Join their email list & they send out coupons too. We also eat a lot of beans and vegetables. If you have the space, a garden is a great.
    Also, ask around while you are shopping. There is a local grocery store here that has a great natural/organic section and all of the employees in that area are trained in food allergies. They have introduced me to great food and pointed me to where I can find coupons. The store carries two FREE natural magazines. Not only have I found good info about food allergies in them, but they have several coupons. I agree with a previous comment, join a yahoo group. We have all shared ideas.

  • Barbara O'Hara says:

    Hi, I just posted a few comments on this link. In list of one of the tips that we use – I mentioned the Monavie juice, which really helps digestion and high quality nutrient content. I though just in case your readers were interested in purchasing some to try on their little ones – I would post a link https://mymonavie.com/monavieformommies
    There are 3 types – the origional is the type reccommended for kids, the pulse is fine for them too & has a smoother texture, but the active type is NOT for kids or pregnant/nursing Moms.
    Didn’t know what the rules were on passing along info to exact websites, so I thought I would put this in a seperate post for you to mederate.

  • I developed a SEVERE allergy when I was a teenager…getting ready to go away to college. My mom was terrified that I would somehow be exposed and have problems. So, we spent several trips to the grocery store-buying absolutely nothing. All we did was read labels. Now, several years later, I am so grateful. I know right off the top of my head what products (even BRANDS) I can consider and what ones to avoid. It has helped me stay within our grocery budget because I know what I’ll be shopping for, and if I know I am out of something that I have to be brand specific about, I can usually find something else on the list to cut out or to substitute with a cheaper brand. I have learned to substitute and make it myself when necessary…homemade always tastes better anyway.

  • Celia says:

    Hey,

    I am allergic to latex, and many pesticides. Which means if I want fruit I need to buy organic.

    If you have one anywhere nearby, try Trader Joes. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of food you get there for the price. I have quite a few medical problems and must eat a very strict diet. So no “middle of the store” foods are usually found in our house.

    For example, Trader Joes has many different nut butters you can try as well as rice pastas. They just introduced a rice pasta mac n cheese.

  • heavensabvus1 says:

    I am on a phenomenally restricted diet that omits all wheat, all starches, etc. No rice, pasta, wheat, etc. But I can use nuts, so that’s a big help. Anyway, as to saving money….almost everything I buy is on sale plus double coupons. When something is on sale I buy in bulk and freeze, can an dehydrate it all for later. When organic apples are 99 cents a pound, I buy 25 lbs, etc. This way I can basically buy all organic produce at the cheapest time, and then use it all year long. If I had a big garden, I would grow it all myself. By saving huge amounts of money there, I can afford to spend a little more on any other products I might need. And don’t overlook ebay for coupons. I can buy huge stacks of coupons for the products I need and then hit the grocery store. Between coupons from ebay (which one of our local supermarkets doubles) and a sale, I recently got 40 cans of organic tomato products for 19 cents a can (normally between 99 cents and $2.19 each). Bulk buying at the right time is the way to go.

  • Jenny says:

    I have Celiac Disease and my daughter has a gluten allergy so we have to avoid gluten all together, my daughter also cannot have any artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives. The best advice I can give is make everything from scratch and don’t buy processed foods.

  • Lana says:

    I have alot of food allergies too and all of the advice above is the advice I would give. I get wheat, gluten and yeast free bread from Deland Bakery. http://www.delandbakery.com
    You have to order 24 packages of bread in an order for them to ship to you so you need alot of freezer space. I have been eating their bread for 12 years or more and found it to be easier and cheaper than all the horrible bread I made for myself. I do not include this in my grocery budget but have a separate budget just for this bread. One thing to note about Deland Bakery-their label says the bread contains wheat and gluten to comply with FDA food labeling rules but they should state it differently-you will see from their website that they are English language challenged. I have never had allergy problems with their products. Yeast and wheat cause me a very severe reaction and so I can tell you that I am confident about their safety.

  • Michelle says:

    Summer, my first son also had many severe food allergies including milk, wheat, eggs and peanuts. It is very overwhelming at first but it does get easier in time. I would also recommend completely avoiding the allergenic foods. My son outgrew the wheat allergy when he was 5. He is now 11 and we are going to see a NAET doctor for the egg, milk and peanut allergy. He actually has been eating a little egg everyday with no reaction. And the eczema is sooo much better! I would love to hear from Leigh Ann about her experience with NAET.

    I did completely change the way I cook, substituting the dairy with either soy or rice milk and using the Ener-G brand egg replacer. I make breads using the Ener-G egg replacer and serve to guests and they love the bread. I never tell them I don’t use eggs. I also find recipes on allrecipes.com and have found some great recipes without milk and eggs.

    Good Luck!
    Michelle

  • Swap Savers says:

    My kids have had some minor issues and I was surprised that the prices of the organic foods in a “regular” supermarket where more expensive then shopping at a store like Whole Foods–do you have supermarkets like that around you? Also when an item is on sale stock up!

  • kelly says:

    I agree with most of the other comments. While my family is free of food allergies (so far… the jury’s still out on the 11 month old) I serve children with autism, MANY of whom have food allergies. For some of them (not all), eating wheat or dairy doesn’t just mean a typical reaction. It means a worsening of their autism symptoms.

    The moms I work with are brand specific, are familiar with the people who man the phones at the FDA, use coupons that they have solicited from companies or purchased on eBay, and do A LOT of from-scratch cooking.

    I’ve taken cues from them, since they have taught me a lot about the nasty things that go into processed foods. I now have a garden, and much of our homegrown produce is canned or vacuum sealed & frozen; I make almost everything from scratch (bake a chicken in the crockpot on Monday – make chicken soup Wednesday with freshly made stock, fresh veggies, & nothing I can’t identify!); I read labels; I substitute a lot. Several of the moms use rice or flaxseed flour, or oat flour to substitute for wheat flour (oat flour is cheap – you just put some oats into your food processor & pulse a few times)…

    Moms with kids who have autism are sometimes experts on food allergies, so you might try logging onto some autism-specific websites & forums. There are always discussions about food-stuff!

  • Jamie says:

    my boys are allergic to egg, oat, peanut, and dairy. we also deal with sensitive skin and eczema. i jumped on the frugal bandwagon a year ago and have since learned ways to couple the two…allergies and thriftiness.

    -call your favorite companies for coupons

    -cook from scratch (ie: bread in bread machine)

    -be content with the basics (MSM helped me learn that beans, rice, plain veggies and fruit are OK! I don’t HAVE to come up with dairy & egg-free casseroles for dinner every night)

    -know that you are saving by not eating out or taking vacations (which we don’t do b/c of allergies)

    -shop around. we get soy milk, toffuti ice-cream, rice milk all at different places because there are huge price differences between the stores.

    -save on toiletries to make up for expensive food. going to generic diapers have made a huge difference for us.

    -research “common food substitutes” so you don’t have to spend a fortune at the health food store (ie: applesauce for eggs in baking)

    -ask friends for coupons on allergy foods they don’t use. this allows us to stock up when a good coupon comes out.

    -garden (i need to help out with in-laws garden a lot more this year!)

    -try new toiletries or foods (that you got on deals) one at a time. if a reaction occurs, you will be able to pinpoint the culprit more easily.

    -accept the fact that an allergy budget is higher than a normal budget.

    I will add that my first pursuits of thriftiness while following blogs like these had me buying any old hygiene items with all the coupons out there. And we learned that our allergic, sensitive skin cannot handle just any body wash, deodorant, or diaper. So while we can’t take advantage of every free soap deal, we do keep our eyes peeled for the deals we CAN take advantage of. Yay for the Dove soap and deodorant deals at Wags this week!

    Find joy in the fact that we can’t eat all the processed foods and out in the restaurants. I’m kind of glad that allergies have forced us to live a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes “healthy” costs a little more than “convenient”.

    Don’t compromise your family’s safety for frugalness. We end up paying for it in medical bills for allergic reactions. Have fun and enjoy learning frugal tips but keep safety your top priority!

  • Christina says:

    Sign up for the Walk for Food Allergies sponsored by FAAN. Visit their site at http://www.foodallergywalk.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Home. We walk every year with our family to raise money for food allergy research. At the walk there is an area where there are free samples of allergan-free food and coupons from the walk sponsors. It is a lot of fun too! Donate to my team at this address: http://www.foodallergywalk.org/goto/teamaidanandevan

  • Lissa says:

    I’m so grateful for this post. Thanks to Moe who mentioned my site, rfak.org, for parents of kids with food allergies. We are building a great community of parents who share ideas and tips JUST LIKE THIS! We are in this together, and there are more of us than you think.

    Right now I am running a giveaway contest for the cookbook that Danielle mentioned by Linda Coss, “What Else is to Eat?” Definitely jump on the site to enter to win the book, it will be a great starting point for you.

    The one thing to remember is that once you figure out the basics of what works for your child, it will be MUCH easier and MUCH cheaper. At first we tend to panic and buy anything we see that will work, but when you’re in it day to day you’ll organically learn tricks.

    I have a list of links to a lot of great allergen free companies that will be a good starting place to contact them for coupons and samples. (feel free to mention you saw it on my site!) 😉

    Best of luck, we’re in this together!!!

  • This was helpful – I am struggling with the reality of higher grocery bills as I deal with gestational diabetes. I feel better hearing from others that there is probably just no way to keep the food bill as low as I am used to – I was feeling pretty defeated. I’m so glad we can stretch it without causing any trouble – and of course I can still be more frugal in other areas!

  • Nancy Karrer says:

    We are blessed to not have any known allergies to particular foods. My heart goes out to all of you that deal with this on a daily basis. I do however have a friend who had a daughter that was severely allergic to milk. After years of food substitutes and research she found a MD (in Tulsa) that specializes in allergies. This doctor treated her daughter in one office visit (no pills or anything invasive) and she is no longer allergic to dairy. It sounds CRAZY and I admit I probably wouldn’t have put much stock into it if I didn’t know this family personally. If you are interested in the doctor’s name feel free to email me. It’s worth a shot (if you are close to Tulsa).
    Nancy karrer at sbcglobal dot net. 🙂

  • Gabrielle Blake says:

    If and when your budget allows, it might be a good long term investment to get a grain mill. My sister has all sorts of allergies and when making a graham cracker recipe for her I discovered how expensive flours such as garbonzo bean flour are. In contrast, a pound of garbanzos are pretty cheap. Milling your own rice flour, corn flour, bean flours, etc is pretty handy too–so many of those flours become rancid quickly when stored at room temperature. This way, you can mill only as much as you need at a time. You could probably find one second hand, but given the allergies I would probably stick to buying one brand new. In my type of mill you can mill almost anything except for high oil content foods such as oats and nuts.

    One more quick recipe to help make breakfasts easier–
    Take equal parts old fashioned oats and milk, mix together and store in the fridge overnight. (If you prefer you can use equal parts oats and water and a tablespoon of whey or yogurt on the counter overnight). In the morning add the mixture to one part water set at a simmer. (So, if you had one cup oats and one cup milk, now add one cup water). Add a pinch of salt and simmer until thick, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup or the sweetener of your choice. Butter or a butter alternative is also good on top. Easy breezy!

    The Frontier food co-op website is another good option for you to get foods, alternative flours, and extracts at a low cost. YOu have to have a business license to use the site, as it is a wholesale site. The Bumblebars, while a little more expensive, are a good snack to have on hand for when traveling.

    HTH,
    Gabrielle

  • Sienna says:

    Have you checked out $5 Dinners? She has a lot of gluten-free recipes:
    http://www.5dollardinners.com/

  • Thanks so much Crystal for posting that question (and Summer for asking) to all your readers! My toddler has suffered with severe constipation issues on and off (mainly “on”) for over a year and the doctors are telling me it is his diet. I’ve tried everything, even a chiropractor, and nothing seemed to be a “quick fix”. I’m going to read through all the comments from this post to get more information. Although I don’t think my son has food allergies, we are trying to go completely “gung-ho” to modify his diet to more high fiber and liquids (anything to get him regular!), while trying not to break the bank.

  • Heather says:

    I second all the comments that say to remove even the items that your son has an intolerance to out of his diet… you never know when an “intolerance” will develop into a full-blown allergy. (I have an allegy to chicken that’s pretty severe; if I’d started eliminating chicken from my diet when I was warned of the intolerance, I wouldn’t have to obsessively ask “Is there any chicken broth in this? Any chicken bones in the stock? Any way it would have come in contact with chicken?” every time we go out to eat!)

    I also second the idea of shopping at the Asian market — for anyone, food allergies or not. Our Asian market not only has a great variety of food options for rice and tofu, it also has great prices on meat (1/2 the price on shrimp versus the local grocery store; 1/3 the price on lean ground pork, etc.).

  • Amy says:

    The best money saving tip I can find is this from :

    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html

    It seems you could deduct the cost on your taxes.

    “You can include the cost of special food in medical expenses only if:

    1. The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs,
    2. The food alleviates or treats an illness, and
    3. The need for the food is substantiated by a physician.”

    It seems you would have this going for you. I deducted the cost of Nutramagen for my son because he needed soy formula. And that stuff is EXPENSIVE. So, consult your accountant.

  • Kala says:

    Well we are now on a “NO BOVINE” diet (no dairy products or beef) for our 2 year old son. While it is challenging I have resolved to only modify current recipes. I am not cooking 2 seperate meals 3x a day! My son can have soy and rice milk,also almond milk. I would say shop Costco or Sam’s Club type store for milk substitutes unless you can score some AMAZING coupon offers. One local store discounts their soy products on Friday so I go stock up on clearance milk PLUS use a coupon keeps the cost down. I also make seperate things once a week and freeze them for a faster morning or on-the-go meal. I found a great cornflake chicken nugget recipe (you can use an egg substitute in this one) and away you go! I made up 2 whole batches and froze them. Also, soy pancakes (busiquick has no dairy) and there are some brands like Vans that have gluten free dairy free waffles!
    All I can say is good luck and may you keep it cheap!! :).
    (Homemade is almost always the way too go!!)

  • marisa says:

    I agree witht eh food co-op idea. We do not allow any peanuts or peanut products into our home for fear of cross contamination. I buy butter, sour cream and cheese alternatives for one of our sons. I make pizzas from scratch with no cheese and just toppings for the one with dairy allergies. Never misses the cheese!

    We alos frequent Asian markets for wheat free products.

  • Stacey Edwards says:

    My son is allergic to milk proteins so, he can not have milk at all. I have tried cows milk, lactose free milk and even goat milk and they all make him very sick. The GI doc doesn’t recommend rice milk cause there is not any nutritional value in it and my son will not drink soy cause it tastes “yucky.” (He can’t have sugar either so he can’t have the flavored soy milk). I fix him his own food and we eat ours. I just discovered in my town we have a place to order a box of food at a very cheap rate. The company is called Angel Food Ministries. The web address is http://www.angelfoodministries.com and they are all over the US. I say all this because they just started this month having an Allergen-Free Box. These foods are processed to eliminate the eight top serious allergens: peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustacea, tree nuts and gluten (wheat, rye, and barley). In this box you get 1lb of coated chicken tenders, 1lb of coated breast filet, 1lb coated chicken nuggets, 1lb coated chicken wings and 1lb coated cubed steak (chicken fried steak). You get all of this for just $25. They have other boxes too. Hope this helps!

  • Dani says:

    I have a daughter that struggles with allergies. I don’t know that I have found a really inexpensive route at the grocery store. We do fruits and veggies a lot. I use sour cream to substitute for eggs when I bake. I also have a box of Egg Replacer to use. When I make cakes I only use the cake mix from a box and a can of soda. Sometimes you will find that just leaving out the egg is no big deal: like meat loaf…. I just don’t put anything in to replace the egg. Tastes the same to us. We also leave eggs out of cornbread.

    Good luck! I know it’s stressful. Hang in there! You will learn in time. Quick advice…. read ALL labels EVERYTIME you shop. Labels change!

  • EmmyJMommy says:

    I am sooo loving the fact that there are others out there trying to be frugal and living with food allergies. My son stopped eating when he was 5 weeks old…we went through a lot, including a G-tube (feeding tube in his stomach) and found out in August that he is allergic to eggs…HIS FAVORITE FOOD!

    We live no where near a Whole Foods, but there is one about 2 hours north of us. We make a trip about 1 time a month up there, and I stock up on as many pre-packaged egg-free foods as I can! We have found Aunt Annie’s pasta that has a pasta in tomato sauce that he LOVES! It is *very* expensive, but he usually gets 2 meals per can….and since I work outside of our home, it is a great “go to” when I am exhausted! I also have found Liz Lovely (http://www.lizlovely.com) cookies. They make Vegan cookies…and thanks to Whole Foods, I know that Vegan means NO EGG! So, if I see Vegan, I usually jump at it! My last “plug” is an online friend that I have made…Heather…she has a blog called SPEWD-FREE. Soy, Peanut, Egg, Wheat, and Dairy. Her adopted son is allergic to all of these, and she has a terrific source of information! (http://www.spewdfree.com)

    I am loving all of the suggestions and can’t wait to try the milled flax seed, I actually have some! Thanks, y’all!!!!

  • Blaire Ruch says:

    I’d love to hear about recipes and money saving tips, books, resources, etc. on milk allergies! My 15 month old just got diagnosed, and I’m concerned about him not getting the whole fat he would be getting in whole milk or other dairy. Please help! Crystal, maybe someone could write a guest post on different food allergies?? A different person for different allergies. Milk one day, wheat the next, etc. Thanks! This is seriously so timely for me – what a blessing from the Lord.

  • Melanie says:

    My daughter has been allergic to milk, eggs, all nuts and bananas since she was born. She’s now 8. It’s a tricky lifestyle and yes, our food budget is higher as we have found some prepackaged items that she can eat. We do make a lot from scratch. She actually eats healthier than anyone else I know. I do now make my own whole wheat bread (only has 8 ingredients) and is fantastic. My kids love it. You need a freezer to help store the items that are on sale that they can eat, as well as stocking up on meats on sale. Again, don’t beat yourself up when some people say “I only spend $50 a week on groceries”. That’s great for them but doesn’t work in our household and I’m an avid couponer. Good luck!

  • Dawn (rn4jchrist) says:

    I haven’t read the other replies, but my 3 y/o son is allergic to :
    gluten/wheat; eggs, dairy, peanuts, garlic, melon, oats and other stuff..cat/dust.
    I usually have to make 2 meals every time I cook, one for him and one for us, but what we do, is stick with fresh fruits and veggies and meat.. since he is able to have rice/corn products that helps a bit, but having all those allergies hasn’t broke on bank.. he drinks soy milk often and when we bake with the gluten free etc products we also freeze the leftovers. and when a product is on reduced/clearance I buy ALOT, ie..Target sometimes reduces the Van’s gluten free waffles to $1.64/box (regular $2.84 in most stores) so I’ll buy as many as my budget can afford. Its been a challenge, but we’ve been doing a lot better at getting creative with his meals. Good luck to everyone!

  • Ashley, if your daughter is sensitive to wheat, you need to check on Kamut and Spelt — they have gluten as well. I make a cereal mix with Quinoa flakes, crushed millet, certified stone-ground oats, and brown rice. I cook large batches in advance and freeze it in single portions. When I reheat it, sometimes I use coconut milk, dried pineapple bits, almond slivers and sprinkle coconut on top. Problem is, then my husband wants to eat it too!

  • MJ says:

    I just saw on the Angelfood Ministries website where they now offer a box that is allergen free. http://www.angelfoodministries.com/menu_0903en.asp
    The description is :

    Processed to eliminate the eight top serious allergens: Peanuts, Soybeans, Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacea, Tree Nuts and Gluten (wheat, rye and barley). Great for children and adults!

  • Jennifer M. says:

    I just have a few more practical ideas in case the organic route is too expensive for you:

    Mostly you’ll have to start reading labels. Once you know what works and what doesn’t, it gets easier. But don’t let that fool you, because they’re constantly changing their “recipies.”

    I guess I’ll start with cereal. If you don’t like the sugary kind, try Rice Chex. If you like to give them a treat now and then (or I liked to mix the sugary with the good stuff), you can find something like Smacks or another puffed rice cereal, you’ll just have to check the corn syrup, because I didn’t have to worry about that.

    As for the milk to go with, I used Rice Dream, it’s fortified. But you might want to make sure you add a little more protein somewhere else in their diet?

    For egg substitute, the dietician at our hospital was very helpful (another resource I would suggest tapping into). She gave me info on all my son’s allergies (where they might be hiding, like root beer and lunchmeat have egg in them; as well as helpful substitutions). I would use cornstarch and water, although I don’t have the exact recipe, I can get it for you if you would like it.

    Bread. If you look in the freezer section of the grocery store (although I haven’t found any at Walmart) with the frozen loaves of bread, like Ezekiel bread, there’s a brand that makes spelt and rice bread, although I can’t remember the name right off hand (I can get that for you too, if you’d like it). It’s a bit pricey, but if it’s just your son eating it, it will last a while.

    For my sons birthday and other special occasions, so he wouldn’t feel left out, I would splurge and go to the health food store and get a specialty cake mix, although they have these more and more at regular grocery stores now. They don’t taste any different from regular cakes really, and they have the right mixtures of the different grains. I tried making my own with rice and oat, but it came out really heavy. For ice cream, I found some store brand whipped topping (like Cool-Whip) that didn’t have any dairy, but, again, I don’t know about the corn syrup. Anyway, I would freeze it and he loved it. I tried the more expensive soy and rice cream, but he wouldn’t eat them at all.

    Well, that’s all I can think of right now, but if I think of anything else, I’ll come back and post. Just a note of encouragement, it does get easier once you get the hang of it all. Have fun on your new journey! =)

  • Jennifer M. says:

    Ooh, I just thought of one more! hehe. For spaghetti I would use rice noodles. You can find them in the asian section of the grocery store.

  • Jennifer M. says:

    Sorry, thought of something else. =) The dietician that I saw said that my son’s egg allergy was only to the egg whites b/c that’s where the protein is. If that’s the case for you, then you can still use the yolks to cook. I had to separate the whites and then rinse off the yolk to make sure to get all of the whites off or he would still have a reaction. Anyway, I think that it. I think. =)

  • Rebecca says:

    I’m allergic to all kinds of nuts. We use Sun Butter instead of peanutbutter. My husband says it tastes just like peanut butter. So much in fact that he was afraid for me to try it. It’s not incredibly expensive and sometimes goes on sale. Another choice is cream of rice instead of cream of wheat. The coupons for cream of wheat will work for cream of rice.

  • Nicole says:

    Trader Joes is a great place to get egg-free and nut free stuff at reasonable prices! My son is allergic to all dairy, eggs and all nuts(peanuts too)! I used to have to go to Whole Foods until the Trader Joes opened up in my area. I also make most of our meals from scratch.

  • It is hard to be frugal when you have food allergies. I signed up for Be Free For Me’s coupons and samples. Check it out at :

    http://www.befreeforme.com/SignUp.aspx

    I have lots of food allergy friendly recipes on my site as well:
    http://www.foodallergyassistant.com
    http://foodallergyassistant.blogspot.com/

  • Julie says:

    I am so glad that I’m not alone. My children have wheat, oat, egg, soy, dairy, peanut & tree nut allergies, (and possibly bean), and I can’t help but laugh when I read of people feeding their families on $50/week.

    You must cut out all offending foods, no matter how slight the reactions. Reactions will get worse with time, and it is not worth the risks. I had pretty well adapted to dairy/nut/egg free life; we use Rice Dream, various egg substitutes, and Natural Balance buttery spread. I give my son a dairy-free calcium supplement.

    Wheat, oat, and soy is a different ballgame. Planning dinners (and lunch and breakfast) is really hard. Basically I stick to meat, potatoes or rice, and vegetables; casseroles are gone. We all like beef & pork roasts (which go on sale regularly), whole chicken ($.79/lb), chicken thighs, and ground beef. Sometimes I fix rolls for those who can eat wheat.

    I really feel like fresh fruits and vegs are an important part of our already limited diet and therefore I am willing to pay $20-$30 a week on produce that we really do eat. We eat salads, broccoli, lots of apples, oranges, & bananas.

    My other splurge is Hormel Natural Choice lunch meat. It is free of wheat & dairy as well as yucky nitrates. It is easy to break in pieces for the little ones, transportable to the park (unlike roast), and very tasty. I often eat apple slices dipped in sunflower butter (though I’m hesitant to actually feed this to nut-allergic children b/c it is processed with nuts).

    Soy Dream and Rice Dream make pretty good ice creams for special occasions. One son who can have soy loves Tofutti ice cream sandwiches. Sorbet (not sherbet) is a great dairy free, easily accessible treat, too.

    Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free All Purpose Mix is great for making pancakes & brownies. Google “Wacky Cake” for a tasty chocolate cake, safe from eggs & dairy, and can be modified for wheat free, too.

    My last two comments: 1. Try not to focus on all the things you (or your child) can’t have. Learn to embrace potatoes and rice. 2. Try not to worry excessively about your food budget. At $500/month, I feel like I am doing the best I can for our family of 5. Yes, I would like to save more, but we have to eat (and I like to eat as nutritiously as possible).

  • Hanna says:

    I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease (meaning a no gluten diet) and I also have poor tolerance for beef and soy. Most of what I would have said has already been mentioned above; however, I do have one more suggestion for you.

    Once you get comfortable with some of the different flours/products, etc and know what you want, start looking at Amazon.com. A lot of times you can buy food there in bulk for cheaper than you would buying one package at a time at a store. Granted it is a bigger expense initially, but in the long run, it can save you quite a bit. I actually set aside a bit of my grocery money every month just to save up for my bulk shopping days on Amazon.

    I buy all my pastas there (Tinkyada pasta is the best gluten free one I’ve found yet) and a lot of my flour there as well. Just make sure you buy the food when they’re available with Amazon’s “no shipping” option.

    Also, as you no doubt know, it’s harder to just pop out to a store when you’re dealing with needing very specific items, so having them on hand in bulk really helps the stress levels as well!

  • mb says:

    My son had milk and egg allergies until last year. He grew out of them. Woo hoo! But, it’s what he is used to eating, so we still eat a lot of the same things since he doesn’t like cow’s milk or egg, etc.

    Cooking everything from scratch was not really an option for me and I don’t think for a lot of people, especially those who work.

    I have written about what we did to save money here and there and what kinds of things we cooked over at my blog at http://www.flyawayfamily.com

  • Lisa says:

    I have an extreme allergy to eggs, one of my daughters is allergic to cinnamon, and another is allergic to artificial colors in foods. We have to buy a lot of natural and organic foods! Target is the cheapest place to buy foods like this (especially snacks). For example, at Sweetbay it costs $6 for fruit leather but at Target it costs $3! Also, if you have a food co-op near you, you can buy a membership and may also be able work a few hours each week (as a volunteer) and get a huge discount on the food you purchase there.
    Hopes this helps!
    Lisa

  • Paula says:

    I know that this is late, but it might help someone in the future, so I write it now. Our son has eosinophilic esophagitis and major food allergies. Basically, he can eat only about ten foods.

    I think the major thing to change is your mindset. I know that was what I had to change. I was trying to make sure he had bread so he could have sandwiches, cookies and pizza and ice cream! I had to realize that my son is different and will not be able to enjoy those type foods. Trying to buy (even make my own from scratch) became VERY expensive.

    Other kids say that they feel sorry for my kids because they cannot have such and such to eat (we are all pretty much on the same diet so I am not a short order cook). But I feel sorry for those kids that think that FOOD is what makes something fun. That is how kids get unhealthy and fat. My kids are super healthy, rarely get sick, and are super happy. I truly believe it is because we eat the foods God gave us to eat. VERY few things in my house have a label on them.

    Farmer’s Markets are my best friend. I become friends with the farmer’s I buy from (EVERYTHING has to be organic – my son reacts if it is not – that is how sensitive his system is). They usually have a stuff a bag for $10 (get a $1 off if you use THEIR bag which you can buy once and bring back again and again year after year). I and now my oldest daughter are REALLY good at stuffing a bag. I can usually get $35 worth of produce for about $10 this way. The smaller two girls will pick out what looks good, and my oldest and I will pack bags. Going when the market is about to close gives you the BEST bang for your buck.

    Keep an eye out on freecycle for a freezer. God knows you will need one and He will be faithful to provide. We had to wait a year, but He provided a VERY big one for our family. It has been a true blessing. Now we buy a lot during the summer, freeze it and preserve it and have plenty all winter. I have not had to buy an onion since August!

    We also stock up on sales of meat at the grocer. My son is allergic to all meats but buffalo and beef. We stock up on grass fed beef and buffalo when it goes on sale for about $3/lb. Normally $7/lb.

    Also, look for ways to cut elsewhere in the budget. Do you still have cable? Netflix? The library has everything for free, and you can watch most TV shows free online (a few days after they have already aired). And Red Box has coupons for free rentals for when you just can’t wait. Are you eating out a lot? Make eating IN more fun! You save money AND you don’t have to worry about the waitress accidentally giving your son milk when you ordered water (thank God I had an epi pen with me!). Do you have two cars and two payments? Do you really need that second car? I know it is difficult to sometimes just stay at home, but it saves you money (no second car payment, and no temptations from Goodwill!). If you need fellowship, invite friends over to your house (a great way to make sure your child is not getting any allergens at another friend’s house).

    I have to second (or third, whatever place in line I am) the 5dollardinners.com – great stuff that can be modified to fit most any allergen diet.

    And while my son cannot have ice cream. He can have fruit popsicles. I can even shave ice and pour fruit juice over it for a special treat. I can dehydrate fruit to make leathers for him. I still make cookies (I have a recipe on my son’s web site http://onemothersjourney.blogspot.com), but they are simple and use ingredients I already have on hand, not specialty ones that cost an arms and a leg. He cannot have cheese, but he can have jerky. Pray about fun and unique ways to make sure your child with special food needs gets to participate.

    My son is happy and healthy and thriving now (no longer on a feeding tube). Sacrifices have to be made. God will bless you for them and He will provide. I hope that this was helpful.

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