Tips and tricks for reducing your grocery bill and eating gluten free on a budget. You can eat well and be gluten free with these simple tips.
Six dollars for a loaf of bread, four dollars for a box of crackers?! Is it possible to eat gluten free on a budget?
Yes, it is possible! You can save money in a number of ways. You don’t have to have sky high grocery bills just because you are gluten free.
Here are some ways you can eat gluten free on a budget:
1. Naturally G-Free: Focus on the foods that are naturally gluten free, and fill your pantry with those foods first. Beans, rice, seeds, potatoes, root vegetables – these items are all gluten free, and have nutritious carbohydrates that your body needs and that will probably crave. There are a ton of varieties of each of these items to add some different flavors and textures to your diet.
Brown rice, Basmati rice, red rice, wild rice, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, lima beans, white potatoes, yellow potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, parsnips…the list goes on and on!
Now is the time to experiment, and since these foods are naturally gluten free, and not a processed gluten free item, they are often very affordable and can be found on sale at a normal grocery store rather than a higher priced health food store.
All fruits and vegetables are gluten free – so you can watch for sales on your favorite produce. Buying frozen fruits and veggies is a great way to save money and to always have healthy options in the freezer!
Of course, buying produce locally from your Farmer’s Market is another great option when it’s in season. That way you’re supporting your local farmers and saving money!
2. Snacktime: When you are busy and out and about and get hungry, that’s when you are most susceptible to spending more money on a special gluten free snack item. Prepare your snacks at home. Nut, seed, and dried fruit mixes are a healthy option, and all three of those items can be bought in bulk and mixed up at home. However, if you are eating gluten free because you have Celiac Disease, a wheat allergy, or any other food allergy – it is not safe for you to buy from the bulk bins – there is a huge risk of cross contamination, so don’t do it!
Gluten free crackers are super expensive, but it’s surprisingly easy to make your own. Larabars are one of my favorite portable snacks, and if you don’t want to buy them, you can make homemade Larabars pretty easily and inexpensively. It’s also easy to make your own granola bars – make a big batch and freeze them individually so that they stay fresh.
3. Baking: Now for baking blends, you have a couple of options. There are a lot of great cup for cup gluten free flour blends for your baking needs. I personally prefer to purchase a gluten free flour blend rather than make my own just because I have two little boys and making my own blend would be just one more thing to do. We love Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend (affiliate link) and it’s available in a huge bag at Costco right now, so that’s a great deal. Of course, there are many different blends available, and you should read the labels on any blend that you choose. We are sensitive to dairy, so several of the popular gluten free blends are not an option for us. You can definitely try making your own blend – this is a very straightforward recipe. It may be cheaper to make your own blend, especially if you can find the different flours in the bulk food section.
4. Shopping: There are several surprising stores that stock gluten free pantry items at a very low price. Big Lots is one of my favorite places to find gluten free flours, snacks, and cereals at a really reasonable price. The Big Lots in my area has a wide selection of Bob’s Red Mill items, including, rice, gluten free oats, and gluten free baking mixes. The price on these items is much lower than what I would pay at my local health food store.
TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Homegoods also have an often changing selection of gluten free foods. I have found chips, crackers, cookies, granola bars, and bake mixes at these stores. Shopping at discount stores like these can help you eat gluten free on a budget.
We live in an area that has many different ethnic food stores. You can find rice, dried beans, and spices at the Indian grocery stores, rice noodles, rice, and tamari and the Asian grocery stores, and lentils and other items at the Lebanese grocery stores. It is worth checking out some of these stores to save on these staples. Of course, if you have Celiac Disease, you need to be cautious about the manufacturing practices on these items.
I have also found that my local Kroger and Meijer stores are now carrying more gluten free items. I particularly like going to our Kroger, because they seem to clearance out items from the Healthy Living section pretty frequently. I have seen gluten free cookies, granola bars, and cereal on clearance for a REALLY reduced price. I can’t guarantee those kind of finds at every Kroger, but it is worth checking your store to see if there is a reduced item section.
Aldi is now carrying a line of gluten free items called Live G Free. I just recently picked up the baking mix, and a box of chocolate chip cookies, and both were very good! We also really enjoy the Live G Free brand of gluten free pasta – it’s corn based, and delicious!
If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they have some gluten free staples at reasonable prices. Gluten free waffles, bread, granola bars, candy, and more can be found at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, make sure to stop by the information desk and ask for the list of gluten free products.
There are also lots of ways to save money online on gluten free groceries.
5. Online Shopping: I also use Amazon to buy some gluten free staples that we use frequently. Since I am an Amazon Prime member, the free 2 day shipping is very convenient, and I can usually find what I am looking for at a competitive price. I use the Subscribe and Save option on items that I know we go through regularly. That simply means that I tell Amazon how often I want a product shipped to me, and when I subscribe to that product, I receive an extra dollar or two off of the item. If you search for “subscribe and save gluten free” you’ll get an idea of what gluten free staples are a part of the Subscribe and Save program.
Vitacost.com is another great site to save on allergy friendly items. The prices on gluten free and allergen free items are often lower than at the grocery store, plus they often run specials each week – a percentage off, free shipping, etc. It’s worth checking out!
6. Coupons: I find that it is a little bit harder to find coupons that are good for gluten free (or dairy free, or allergy friendly) items, but there are a few places to find them. The Peaceful Mom posts a roundup of gluten free coupons each week. When I shop at Whole Foods, I always check out the Whole Deal when I walk in, because you never know what coupons will be included, and there are often allergy friendly product coupons with a high value.
If you shop at Target, it is worth it to use the Target website, or to use the Cartwheel App. I’ve saved money on rice, gluten free crackers, tortilla chips, and produce by using their coupons. Some companies, like Udi’s, make coupons available for those that sign up for a newsletter. All Natural Savings is another nice site that finds current coupons for whole foods and allergy friendly foods.
That’s it for now! I hope this was helpful. What’s your favorite way to save on gluten free items? How do you keep your food bill down when you have to buy allergy friendly foods? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!
If you’re new to food allergies, you’ll want to read my tips about baking and cooking for food allergies.
Lynn Sittler Farley
If anyone can get to a Wegman’s, you should go! They have a large gluten free section, as well as more items scattered about the store. Many items are available in Wegman’s brand and are much cheaper than the name brands. All are clearly marked with a G in a circle on the front of the bottle.
A note on Aldi’s gluten free — most of it is decent, but a few things have been really nasty, like the snack bars. Their texture is terrible.
My favorite on-the-go snack/light lunch is a piece of fruit and a Kind bar. The best prices on these that I know of are Wal-Mart, BJs and Sam’s Club.
I have found corn tortillas are great for a quick meal (the flat, soft kind). Spread them with any combination of refried or black beans, salsa and cheese. Shredded chicken would also be good. I start with refried beans and end with cheese, top with a second tortilla and cook on a dry cast iron skillet until the outside browns. Cut in quarters and serve with sour cream
Love your tip about the bean quessidillas! What a quick and healthy lunch!
be careful of chicken and turkey, if they are injected with a broth, they may not be gluten free, I learned this from the dietician I worked with when going gluten free
Very true, some processed and packaged meats do contain a broth solution. Best to always read labels!
I’ve been experiening bloating, gas, stomach aches, and digestion difficulties over the last few years, not to mention rashy itchy skin. I tried a dairy free diet for weeks with no difference seen so my next stop is to practice gluten free. Your tips on shopping were very helpful and made the shopping experience seem less intimidating. However, I still feel clueless about what foods contain gluten and what I obviously need to avoid (I’m very new to this!). And what ingredients should I avoid besides wheat, and spelt when reading labels? What are the rules as far as meats go? Any type of summary would be helpful! :) Im beginning my diet tomorrow and feel as if I need “gluten-free diet for dummies”! Thanks!
It might be easiest to stick to the basics at first – vegetables, fruits, rice, meat, dairy, eggs – these are all gluten free. Meat should not be a problem, fish, chicken, seafood, beef, pork – all are fine. If you feel like you need more carbs, just go with rice and starchy veggies like potatoes to satisfy that urge. Once you get more comfortable, then you could try other grains like millet and quinoa, but it might be easiest to stick to a simple diet at first! Good luck, I hope it works for you! :)
Tee, your symptoms sound like those of Celiac disease. I see that this was posted in 2014 but I’m hoping that by now you might have been tested for Celiac. I have Celiac and have had similar symptoms like yours. I have GF and feel so much better; still have some issues but much better than I was. Hope you are feeling relief.
Hi, thank you so much for this article! Very very helpful! We just found out my son has a sensitivity to gluten as we are on a path of a better diet to help with his ADHD symptoms! Can I ask how you started your own website? I’m curious on how to begin as I’ve been thinking about starting one regarding my son and his ADHD. Yours is so helpful I would like to help others as well.
These are great tips! I’m not sure how much cross contamination effects people who have gluten intolerance, but if you have Celiac disease you should not purchase from bulk bins. You also need to be very careful with nuts, seeds, some beans, dried fruit and some brands of minute rice. Most are processed on shared equipment with gluten containing ingredients.
That’s a good point about the bulk bins! And I always encourage everyone to read labels! My son has a true egg allergy, so he can’t eat stuff that is manufactured in the same facility as eggs.
Just saw Big Lots selection og g-free yesturday. Super excited since my area of florida does not have kroger and I am now having to cut out gluten… Thanks for the great information!! Very helpful.
You’re welcome, Ashley! I love to see what Big Lots has, it’s always a nice surprise!
Thanks for sharing!! I’m new to Gluten Free and this was very helpful!
I’m glad to hear it, Summer! :)
My husband and I went vegetarian 2 years ago on the directions of his doctors, but we have recently been told we now also need to cut out gluten and dairy from his diet as too. So let’s see…. that’s no meat, no alcohol, no gluten, no dairy…..hmmm sounds fun! Needless to say it’s been a tricky transition as my husband is not an overly adventurous eater. I (probably like you in the beginning) have watched my grocery bills almost double, so I really appreciate the tips you provided from a veterans perspective. One thing I am curious about is eating out and take away. I am 7 months pregnant and although I love to cook, I am running out of energy and enthusiasm to spend hours in the kitchen. Particularly once baby arrives and insomnia cloaks the whole house, we will be more in need of a quick dinner alternatives than ever. It would be great if you had any tips about take out foods that your gluten free/ dairy free family is able to enjoy.
Wow, that’s a lot to cut out, and I definitely feel for you! I have found that for us, ethnic cuisin is what works best for takeout. Indian food, Thai food, Mexican food – all usually have something that will work. We have had good luck with Qdoba and Chipotle – I love the rice and bean bowls with salsa and guacamole and grilled vegetables. Panera has some salad options that may work, and you can look at the full allergy menu in store so that you know for sure what you are getting. Noodles and Company is the same way. I hope that helps! Best wishes to you and your family! :)
Thank you for deciding to write this! I start my gluten free experience tomorrow and definitely feel clueless. I appreiate your helpful tips!
I hope it goes well for you! Let me know if you have more questions, I’m happy to help!
Natalie Wester (@cleaneatingteen)
Love the tips. Gluten free doesn’t have to be hard :)
We have been gluten free since last fall and I have scoured the ends of the Earth! I was reminded that I need to make the effort to go to Big Lots for the Bob’s items as I haven’t been in a while. So, thank you. We have also found that here in North Georgia our Ingle’s stores seem to carry a good bit of GF items as well. Not sure why that is, but I do like options!
I think more stores are realizing that they need to stock GF items, because gluten sensitivity is so common nowadays! It’s always nice to find a good price, though!
This is a great post! Thanks for all the suggestions and options. This is a really amazing resource.
Glad that it’s helpful, Kristen! :)
olivia - Primavera Kitchen
Kelly, I love this post! Great tips. They are very useful. Definitely I will follow some of these tips ;-)
Kelly, this is SUCH a great post! So many of my friends are going gluten-free and they’re always asking my advice on brands to buy and such, and I always have to admit that I really know nothing about anything gluten-free! I will definitely be sending them over to this post! :)
Oh good! Glad to be of help!
GiGi Eats Celebrities
BIG LOTS?!?!?!?!?! Why have I NEVER BEEN before!!!! This is OFFICIALLY on my TO-WANDER list! ;)
You should go!!
Thanks for this post! I’d be interested in learning more about your son’s intolerance to gluten through your breastmilk – I’m going through the same thing with my daughter. It’s been a long, hard journey and it’s nice to FINALLY hear someone say that they’ve been through the same thing with gluten specifically. Every doctor and specialist we’ve been to so far has been insistent that she could only be sensitive to wheat, not gluten, but then they have no explanation for why she gets sick when I eat something with spelt in it. How old is your son now? I’m assuming that he did not grow out of his intolerance?
My heart goes out to you! It can be so tough to try to figure out what’s bothering your baby. Good for you for breastfeeding, sticking with it, and going with your gut. My firstborn was sensitive to wheat and spelt, so I assumed that it was the gluten that was bothering him. I just diagnosed that myself through triail and error. When I would eat wheat or spelt, he wouldn’t sleep well and his eczema was HORRIBLE! It was so sad. He is now almost 7 years old, and he cannot tolerate wheat (it still makes his eczema flare up), but he is able to tolerate spelt just fine. I don’t know what changed, but he was able to tolerate dairy up until about age 4, and then he became sensitve to that. Just trust your judgement, and watch how your baby reacts to different things. If you decided to go totally gluten free, there are a lot of good options available for baking, etc. If you have a La Leche League group in your area, I would encourage you to go to a meeting – there are a lot of moms who are in your shoes, and you will find a lot of support there. Let me know if I can answer anymore questions!
Kayla from Love Sparkle Pretty
Thank you for sharing! I don’t have to necessarily go Gluten Free but I have been looking into it for a healthier lifestyle option. I’m still unfamiliar with what products are naturally gluten free so your list has really helped!
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
Great tips! Just proves that it doesn’t have to be healthy and there is lots that you can do to save money.