Ways to Stretch Your Gluten-Free Food Budget - dummies

Ways to Stretch Your Gluten-Free Food Budget

By Nancy McEachern

Part of Student’s Gluten-Free Cookbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Chances are good that you don’t have a limitless food budget, and you may be shocked at the cost of gluten-free groceries when you set out on your first solo trip to the grocery store, especially if you plan to purchase specialty gluten-free items such as bread and crackers. Here are some tips for wise spending when shopping for gluten-free groceries:

  • Plan your meals for the week before you go. Know what you need and use what you buy. This tip alone can save you a bundle!

  • Pair recipes that use similar ingredients. If using half a chicken or half a jar of pasta sauce, find a recipe that calls for the rest of that ingredient tomorrow.

  • Reclaim food that’s a little past its prime. For example, turn stale gluten-free crackers and bread into something else:

    • Make croutons by buttering the bread, cutting it into cubes, and broiling it until it’s very crispy. Store the croutons in the freezer and throw them in a salad anytime.

    • Pulverize the bread in a blender or food processor to make breadcrumbs to use as coatings, fillers in meatballs or meatloaf, or casserole toppings. Add extra seasoning for Italian or Cajun versions.

    • Use cracker crumbs as a coating for baked or fried chicken or pork chops.

  • Buy naturally gluten-free foods. Buy things that don’t have a label listing a ton of ingredients. Think fresh meats, dairy, fruit and veggies, and eggs.

  • Buy national brands. A food doesn’t need to be a specialty product to be gluten-free. Some examples of foods that are gluten-free and may not be labeled as such are tortilla chips, potato chips, popcorn, corn tortillas, many mainstream soups and sauces, hot dogs, and more.

    A quick search on company websites or a good gluten-free shopping guide or app can point you to gluten-free products. Among the large companies that offer gluten-free options — and that issue coupons — are Betty Crocker, Boar’s Head, General Mills, Zatarains, Kraft, Frito Lay, Chex Cereals, Progresso, and Heinz.

  • Become a fan. Many companies let you in on special deals and coupons if you’re their fan on Facebook.

  • Use grocery store and grocery website loyalty programs. Join the store or site program for coupons, specials, and free shipping.

  • Use daily deal sites. Buy discounted vouchers for gluten-free food through Groupon-like sites such as http://glutenfreedeals.com and www.glutenfreesaver.com.

  • Explore ethnic groceries. Some people swear by Asian stores for cheap rice and rice noodles.

  • Buy nonfood items at nonfood stores. Save a bundle by getting things like shampoo, cleaning supplies, makeup, and toothpaste at a discount store like Target or Walmart or even a dollar store instead of the grocery store, where prices for these items are probably higher.