An unexpected concern of following a gluten-free diet is the higher prices of many gluten-free foods. Product for product, gluten-free items are generally more expensive than their gluten-containing alternative. However, eating when diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity has many positive effects and does not have to break the bank! Here are five ways to decrease food costs when following a gluten-free diet.
1. Focus on whole foods: The most expensive part of a gluten-free diet is buying specialty processed foods like breads, crackers, and cereals. Focusing on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free like fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, beans, rice, and eggs is less expensive and offers more nutrition benefits as well! An added bonus is that there are no tricky labels to read for gluten containing ingredients.
2. Get back to Cooking: Cooking your own food saves a lot of money and reduces the chance of accidental gluten contamination. Consider takeout and restaurant eating as a special outing rather than a regular habit. Cooking big batches of soups and stews, for example, and freezing recipes can help cut down on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. Focus on simple recipes using few ingredients and requiring little prep to make it easier and less time consuming.
3. Look for Coupons: Despite the higher price, gluten-free breads, crackers, and other specialty products can be comforting and familiar to those on a gluten-free diet. Purchasing the products in multiples when on sale or with coupons can help offset the increased cost.
4. Shop ethnic markets: International markets, often found in urban areas, often have a wide variety of gluten-free foods at cheaper prices than conventional stores. Some products available include beans and grains such as lentils, chickpeas, rice, and millet. This is also a fun way to try new foods. Be aware that products in international markets are less likely to be labeled or certified gluten-free and there may be greater risk of gluten contamination.
5. Explore New Recipes: There are many online resources for quick and easy gluten-free recipes such as websites, blogs, and Pinterest boards. These recipes are free for you to use! If you don’t have access to the Internet, consider saving money by investing in a good, basic Gluten-Free cookbook.
Gluten-free living does not have to break the bank with specialty food products. By following these few tips, eating gluten-free can be accessible to all food budgets!