It is really possible to cut your grocery bill while eating gluten-free with these money saving tips!
Believe it or not, it is actually possible to cut your grocery bill while eating gluten-free! Now the catch is that you have to put a little more time into cooking and shopping, but now that much more. You may even find yourself eating healthier. Some people think that going gluten-free will help them lose weight, and I joke that that only works if you are too poor to buy the pricey substitutes for every high carb, processed food that you used to eat. It’s really true though! If you buy the easy substitutes for wheat-filled convenience foods, going gluten-free will cost you a lot more (and won’t help you lose weight either).
How to Cut Your Grocery Bill While Eating Gluten-Free
Buy gluten-free ingredients in bulk. The packaged gluten-free specialty items are expensive, even basics like gluten-free flours. I buy certified gluten-free flours, rolled oats, and gluten-free pastas in bulk at my local WinCo for very low prices, as well as naturally gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa. You can save a ton of money on gluten-free ingredients by skipping the package.
Make your own gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. Buying a packaged gluten-free all-purpose flour mix is a great way to try out gluten free cooking, but if you are trying to save money, it is not a good long-term plan. Most all-purpose flours are a mixture of rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and xanthum gum, with some variations, and it is very easy to make your own all-purpose flour. If you buy these ingredients separately in bulk and combine them yourself, you will save a ton.
Substitute naturally gluten-free ingredients. Sometimes you can replace an ingredient in a dish with a cheaper, naturally gluten-free item. Instead of making spaghetti with pasta, I often use spaghetti squash. In pasta salad dishes, I like to substitute rice or quinoa. Instead of thickening sauces with flour, use cornstarch.
Don’t fall for gluten-free labels on naturally gluten free items. Stores and brands have realized that gluten-free is popular and have started slapping the gluten-free label on all kinds of products where the label is unnecessary. For example, my local store labels my favorite peach tea as gluten-free. Don’t look for the label on anything you know is not going to contain wheat, barley, or added gluten. It might be a sales gimmick. There are some products where you need to look for the label, like sauces, salad dressings, and spice mixes. Do your research on gluten, and you won’t fall for the gimmicks. Here is a list of gluten-free foods and ingredients to get you started.
Shop in the ethnic foods section. Many cultures do not use wheat as a major food staple and have many naturally gluten-free foods and recipes. You can find some great substitutes in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store. No need to buy expensive gluten-free tortillas or wraps when you can buy corn tortillas with no added wheat. You can also find rice noodles and rice noodle soups in the Asian food section, and they are typically much cheaper than special gluten-free noodles and soups. Just watch out for soy sauce! That is something you must buy gluten-free.
Take it as an opportunity to cut carbs. The hardest thing about giving up gluten is giving up (or finding substitutes for) carb-filled dishes and desserts. While it is a difficult change, you can use it as an opportunity to eat better overall. I eat more vegetables, fruits, meat, and nuts now, and less refined carbs, than before I gave up gluten. Largely because I don’t have room in my grocery budget for expensive, often disappointing, gluten-free substitute products. I started buying more of the foods that I can get at the same price as everyone else, and that resulted in a healthier and more natural diet.