Have you ever wondered if it was possible to eat gluten free cheap? To eat gluten free if you are on a tight budget?
Last week I shared why we went wheat free for 6 weeks and next week I have a round up of the recipes and meal ideas we used during that time.
Today, I want to share some tips for those of you who are contemplating doing the same thing. I had people wonder what you can eat if you are avoiding gluten. My friend’s immediate thought was that basically everything has gluten it and she’d have no clue what to feed her family.
When you are eating gluten free you not only need to eliminate all forms of wheat but also rye, barley, and bulgur. (Did you know that malt was made from barley? I didn’t.) Be sure to read all labels. Chicken broth, chips, soy sauce – everything!
Change also holds the possibility of having to increase your grocery budget. We didn’t set extra money aside to use during this experiment so we had to work within the constraints of our usual budget.
I have nine tips for going gluten free cheap!
How to Eat Gluten Free Cheap
Don’t Buy Packaged Foods
Buying Larabars, boxes of gluten free macaroni and cheese, crackers, and snacks will quickly eat away at your budget. Make a batch of homemade larabars, granola bars, and oat flour muffins to use as snacks and breakfast. Make double or triple batches and keep the extras in the freezer and you’ll have your own convenience food for later in the month.
Don’t Buy Specialty Flours
There are tons of flours out there you can use in gluten free cooking and baking. This was a temporary diet change for us so it wasn’t worth it to spend a lot of money stocking my kitchen for gluten free baking. Just avoid recipes for your meals and snacks that would require purchasing these things. I already had coconut flour in my pantry so I used it and oat flour that I ground in my blender. If the change becomes permanent then slowly began adding different products to your kitchen.
Add extra in season produce to your diets. Instead of having bread as a side, roast some asparagus. Bring out a bowl of fruit salad for dessert instead of cookies. Fruit and vegetables make a super easy snack as well. If you buy the produce that’s on sale each week you can do this without blowing your budget. The majority of my grocery shopping trips consist of produce so I just added some more to the pile and we were good to go.
Keep it Simple
Don’t burn yourself out! Make the process enjoyable. I made a few recipes that took a little more work but that didn’t happen every day. When I cooked, I tried to make large quantities so that there would be enough for a second meal.
If you buy processed foods (or eat out) read labels! You will most likely find wheat a few places you weren’t expecting it. If you aren’t used to checking, this might take a little while to get in the habit of.
Make What You Like
Every meal doesn’t have to be unique and a new recipe for your family. Take some ideas you know your kids will like and find ways to adapt them. Use lettuce for a wrap instead of a flour tortilla or bread. Make quesadillas on corn tortillas. Does your family love shredded beef sandwiches? Try serving it over a potato. Turn recipes into salads (like how this recipe can be either a wrap of salad). There are a lot of possibilities that are simple and easy on the budget.
Grill, Stir-Fry, Mexican, and Soups
These are four meal types that are easily wheat free! Tacos (and taco salad), tostadas, and enchiladas were favorites in our house. Stir fries also made many appearances. Simply cut up a lot of vegetables add some meat cook it up with a sauce. Grilling meat and serving with fruits and veggies and maybe rice or quinoa makes a quick and easy supper. Soups are another simple way to go gluten free cheap. Great way to use up all the leftover veggies you have in the fridge.
We also ate a fair amount of beans the past 6 weeks. Even if you don’t like eating a pot of beans for supper (which my husband doesn’t) there are ways to incorporate them into your meals. Have your tacos with refried beans some of the time. Add black beans to the enchiladas. Top your salad with garbanzo beans. They were a great way to stretch our budget and make recipes more filling and go further.
Oats and Oat Flour
Rolled oats are super affordable and you can turn it into flour by putting it in your blender. Easy! I tried not to go overboard on the amount of oats in our diets but this made it possible for us to have some traditional wheat type foods – pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Granola and baked oatmeal (or baked oatmeal muffins) also made great and filling breakfasts. If you are allergic to gluten, you are going to want to be sure to buy gluten free oats to avoid cross contamination.
What suggestions do you have for going gluten free cheap or for making the transition easy for your family?
Don’t forget to stop back by next week for meal ideas while being wheat free (that would also be great to add to your menu anytime).
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