Going Gluten free can be horribly expensive for many families. My family is mainly gluten free due to a gluten intolerance. And in addition we have other various allergies such as lactose intolerance, egg and strawberry allergies.
I will admit we learned in the beginning what NOT to buy and how expensive it can be. But with a bit of practice and time we have gotten our food budget down to pretty much where it was before going gluten free. So with that, I wanted to share with others that might be facing the option of having to go gluten free because of health issues, or the choice to eat a bit healthier. You have probably heard from many that it can be pricey and well that is true, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tried and tested tips to help you learn just how going gluten free doesn’t have to break the bank.
1. Learn what foods are naturally gluten free
Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, and poultry are all foods that are naturally gluten free and delicious in the process. Focus on creating your own new ‘gluten free’ menu around these foods. The best part besides saving money on these foods, is they offer more nutritional value versus the process and refined gluten free foods out there with a hefty price tag.
To help get you started I will provide you with a list of our favorites
White Rice– White rice is delicious and Gluten Free. But we learned early on it was one new staple in our home and buying Instant rice was costly. So instead we purchased a rice cooker. A rice cooker is wonderful in the fact that it makes large amounts of rice, quickly. This way you can purchased the large bags of white rice and save a ton of money in the process.
Potatoes- Potatoes are naturally gluten free and incredibly delicious, plus they can be purchased in a larger bag. We honestly rotate from potatoes to rice meals throughout the week.
Vegetables-Vegetables are naturally gluten free as well. They are better for you fresh, but canned, and frozen are gluten free, you just have to read the labels to ensure they were not processed on equipment that processes gluten products.
The one thing you will learn quickly when going free is to read the labels and the allergen statement. You are looking for items that are free from wheat.
2. Make homemade gluten free foods versus buying pre-processed ones.
You can rack up the savings by making your own gluten free foods such as bread and snack foods. Honestly I purchased a couple loaves of gluten free bread in the beginning and compared to the regular bread prices you are looking to spend at least 5-7 times what it typically is. With that said, it’s also not that great, at least the ones that we tried. But with a little bit of time, energy, patience, and ingredients you can experiment around with the various gluten free bread recipes out there and find one that you love.
Staples in a Gluten Free Kitchen
There are a few things if you will be making homemade gluten free foods at home that you will want to have in your kitchen.
Flours: Here is one area that will be a bit more expensive than the rest. Gluten free flours are necessary for items such as bread, noodles (yes you can make these homemade and I will share my recipe with you all ),cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. We use a couple different flours here at home, the first one is White Rice Flour,and Almond Flour. White rice flour is one I use for almost everything from noodles, to gravy. Almond flour is best for baking goodies such as muffins. In addition Gluten Free Bisquick is wonderful for making biscuits, pancakes, etc.
Baking Products: You will want to make sure you always have baking soda, baking powder, and a gluten free vanilla on hand. In addition xanthan or guar gum help to be a binder in many baking recipes and make the texture of foods a bit more smoother.
Gluten Free Noodles: I told you all I would share my recipe with you. This is one I’ve come up with on my own and it works wonderfully for us. We use this in soups, and stews, and have even made our own noodles for other dishes.
1 cup gluten free flour (I prefer to use white rice flour, but almond works well, however Tapioca flour does not for this one)
1 egg (if you have an egg allergy this can be substituted, a good substitute of eggs in baking recipes is apple sauce. However you can use flax seeds which provide additional nutritional benefits, for this you will have to grind your flax seeds in a coffee grinder, mix 1 tbsp of flax seeds with 3 tbsp water). If you are looking for additional substitutes here is a great chart detailing them.
2-3 tsp water (This really depends on the consistency that your dough is at) you don’t want it too sticky, or too dry, somewhere in between.
Roll out your noodles, and cut to the size/ shape of your liking. If you are using them for stir fry, or other dishes other than soups/stews. Allow to dry for a few hours to overnight on a rack. With soups/ stews I put them right into the pot when it’s ready for them.
Going gluten free doesn’t have to be horribly expensive. There are some foods you will miss and that is natural in the beginning, eventually though you will start to enjoy your new diet. But there are a few items we tend to splurge on because we miss and love them such as pretzels. But with all the additional savings you really don’t notice this little ‘splurge’.
Good Luck, and let me know what you think!