Anyone on a special diet knows that this often means your grocery bill can get pretty high. For those that eat gluten-free, this can really present a challenge as it seems gluten is in just about everything on the shelves. If you are trying to save money on your gluten-free grocery budget, here are some tips to help you on your way.
How to Save Money on Gluten Free Food
Stay away from the special gluten free section of your favorite grocery store. While this is the easiest way to find gluten free products, it is not the cheapest in many cases. Because stores have started seeing a demand for gluten free food, they have now started to highlight these specialty products in special sections or shelves of their stores. The problem comes in when stores also charge more for these items because they are attention grabbing.
Look on the sale shelves. You know those few shelves in the back of most grocery stores that sell damaged packages, discontinued items, and seasonal stuff? I often find gluten free foods that make their way over from the specialty section. Specialty foods often do not sell as fast as other goods so they need to sell them at a discount. Often times stores will do this on the sale shelves. I have found gluten free stuff like rice noodles and gluten free salad dressings on these shelves for 50-75% off!
Realize that many raw foods are naturally gluten free. This includes fresh produce, fresh meats, and many basic dairy products (though you will need to check for fillers). Cooking with these items and skipping the convenience foods is often your best bet. Just like any budget, shop and cook with what's on sale.
Check out what websites like Amazon have to offer. You can often get low-cost gluten free foods (even the convenience kind) with their subscribe and save options. Amazon also has sales from time to time as well on all of their grocery items.
If you really like cake, baking, and brownie mixes, try making some of your own. Just add the dry ingredients to a container or plastic bag and label them with what they are along with what wet ingredients need to be added. This way, you have much lower cost mixes on hand for quick baked goods!
Plan all your meals. This is a good tip for anyone trying to save money on their grocery budget, but can be especially useful for those that are following a gluten-free diet. Deciding what you will be making ahead of time allows you to shop sales, plan meals around the sales that are happening, and control your spending habits when it comes to food.
Do your research and read labels. Many times, when people are on certain special diets they naturally assume everything that is packaged is probably off limits. This is not always true. In time, you will get a feel for what to quickly scan for on labels and what brands and products you can trust.
Don't buy into sensationalism on labels. With gluten-free being in high demand, some companies have started to label their foods with bright letters that say, “Gluten-Free” in bold when the product was already naturally gluten free to begin with. Just because the label says gluten free does not mean similar and lower cost products that don't advertize that aren't as well.
What are some ways you save on gluten-free food items? I would love to hear about it in the comments!