One of the hardest parts of going gluten free is how expensive the diet can be. Gluten free baked goods can easily cost 2-3 times as much as their wheat-based counterparts, and even baking from scratch can be pricey.
So if youíre struggling to eat gluten-free and pinch pennies, here are 7 helpful tips to make it a little easier:
1. Look for naturally gluten-free foods. It may seem like everything in your supermarket has gluten in it, but letís be honest. Thatís only if youíre sticking to processed foods. Venture out into the fresh produce, dairy, meat and seafood aisles and youíll find a wealth of healthy, naturally gluten-free foods that donít cost any extra. Some other good options are lentils, beans, and rice — but watch out with dry versions of these products, which may be packaged on the same lines as wheat, barley, or oats. Hereís a helpful list of naturally safe foods if youíre not sure where to start.
2. Learn to bake your own gluten-free goods. Not only will you save money baking your own GF breads, cookies and cakes, but youíll also be eating much healthier versions of the processed foods youíll find in stores — with no scary additives or preservatives. Itís true that baking gluten-free has a steep learning curve if youíre used to cooking with wheat flour, but there are a wealth of recipes and how-to guides online to help you get started.
3. While youíre at it, try making your own gluten-free flour mixes. Buying basic flours and mixing them yourself will cost less than buying a special mix and will be more versatile. But be sure that the flours youíre buying are certified gluten-free — some of the cheaper corn, rice, or potato flours may be contaminated if theyíre processed alongside gluten grains.
4. Buy gluten-free groceries in bulk. Shop online at Amazon or your favorite brandís website. Most of them will offer discounts if you order supplies in bulk. You can also try the bulk flour bins at your local health food store, but be careful — the scoops can easily be contaminated by other bins. I donít recommend this approach if you have a severe gluten sensitivity or full-blown celiac.
5. Clip coupons and keep an eye out for sales. Keep an eye on the sales at your local grocery store, and check out the websites of your favorite GF brands to see if they offer any special coupons. You should also check out online deal sites like Gluten Free Saver and Be Free For Me for regular updates on gluten-free discounts.
6. Freeze big batches of GF goodies! If you tend to run out of homemade gluten-free snacks and end up buying pricey store brands instead, thereís an easy fix. Just freeze a big batch of the dough (or even the finished snack) for easy defrosting later when youíre in a rush. You can safely freeze cookies, breads, even soups and some entrees without damaging the texture of the finished product.
7. Claim a tax deduction for your gluten-free food. Yes, you can actually write off gluten-free foods as a medical expense. Thereís two catches, though: first, you MUST be medically diagnosed as celiac to claim this deduction. Second, you can only claim the difference in cost between the gluten-free version of a food and the regular version. So youíll have to save all your grocery receipts, do a lot of math, and attach a letter from your doctor verifying your diagnosis. Itís a lot of work, but it may just be worth it.
Photo credit: Tax Credits