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There are tons of reasons to follow a gluten-free diet. Maybe your roommate or family member eats gluten-free, and you’re joining them out of solidarity. Or maybe you have a sensitivity, an intolerance, or Celiac disease. Maybe you have strong feelings about barley. Whatever the reason, you probably noticed how much more expensive gluten-free products are. If your new diet is hitting you harder in the wallet than you expected, don’t despair. You can still eat deliciously and save money, too.
By “Paleo,” I mean that low-carb diet where you don’t eat anything a caveman wouldn’t have access to. That means no processed foods, no dairy, no grains — perfect for a gluten-free diet. Meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts and seeds are safe to eat. Avoiding processed foods means you avoid high-priced packaged gluten-free products — saving money (and your waistline).
If you’re not ready or willing to give up beans or grains, don’t despair. Buy them in bulk and save your dough. Instead of store-bought bread with your dinner, which you may have enjoyed in your pre-GF life, or gluten-free bread, make a side of brown rice. Brown and white rice, gluten-free bread mixes, dried beans, and other safe staples are readily available at savings clubs or online warehouses like Amazon, often for significant savings over the grocery store.
If the Paleo diet is too extreme, and you’d like a few pre-packaged conveniences (they are, after all, convenient), consider a lower-cost supermarket like Aldi. Their core gluten-free offerings include brown-rice pasta that holds up well under sauce, whole-grain bread that works great in sandwiches, and gluten-free cookies, baking mixes and buns. Also, the price of their gluten-free products often rivals that of regular products at larger grocery stores, making it a great value all around.
While it’s not as easy to dine out on a gluten-free diet as it is on a regular diet. It’s still possible still convenient — and still expensive.
If you find you’ve been ordering a little too much GF take-out or perusing the GF menu at your local restaurant a little frequently, recommit to cooking at home. Planning a week’s worth of food on Sunday will save you from impulse meals as well as protecting your wallet.
Speaking of protecting your wallet and cooking at home, take it to the next level by making friends with your freezer. Don’t just plan your menu on Sunday; cook ahead and prepare batches of GF food like brown rice and GF oatmeal, enough for the week. Grains like that will keep all week in the fridge, to be dished out individually and reheated.
In addition, you can also bake GF bread on the weekend if that’s something your family enjoys, and roast a chicken or a cut of beef to be made into sandwiches, salad toppings and more. Large batches of soup, stock, cookies, bread, chili, all of it can be made ahead and frozen for use later.
In fact, that’s the real combo move: buying in bulk at a good price, cooking it at home in quantity and preparing ahead. With little planning, your gluten-free diet can be just as affordable as any other way of eating.