After adopting a gluten free lifestyle, I noticed our grocery bill spiked – big time!
I mean yes, I have four growing kiddos, but paying almost $8 for a loaf of gluten free bread is insane. Or a bag of chicken nuggets for 7 bucks — and my kids LOVE nuggets.
Who can keep up with that? I believe a regular loaf of bread these days will run about $2.50 or nuggets at $4.50 depending on where you live and shop. The markup is ridiculous.
And it’s not just the price difference, the portions are smaller! Yes, it’s true. You pay more and get less. What a deal.
I’ve tried different ways to save when grocery shopping so I thought I’d share these tips with you to help make things a bit easier 🙂
Look for Naturally Gluten Free Foods
I’m not only referring to whole meats, fresh vegetables and fruits – even though, yes, those are naturally gluten free. I’m talking about products that are made without gluten, not products made to be gluten free.
Like rice cakes, for example. They’re made without gluten containing ingredients and don’t have the price markup you would see with a product that is a gluten free version of something else. Make sense?
Some other items that come to mind are certain brands of popcorn (we like Smart Pop and Boom Chicka Pop), hummus, unseasoned rice, fruit snacks, certain brands of pasta sauce (Classico is our favorite), potato chips, most frozen french fries and Rice Chex cereal.
Disclaimer: Please still check labels and don’t buy until you know it’s safe
Get Yourself a Blue Apple
Okay, I know what you’re thinking… I’m trying to help you save money by suggesting you buy something? And… what’s a blue apple?!
A Blue Apple, I promise you, is worth more than you might think. It has saved me so much money on produce simply because it slows the ripening process. It’s literally a plastic blue apple that you toss in your produce drawer (both fruits & veggies) that will help keep your produce fresh longer. Simple, right?
Gasses are made by produce which causes them to ripen but the Blue Apple has a packet inside that absorbs gas to keep everything fresher longer. We’re talking at least two weeks longer! And since fresh fruits and veggies are naturally gluten free, I’m buying more than I previously did.
Buy and Freeze
When you see gluten free products on sale (it’s not very common so keep your eye out), buy like crazy! Then freeze. Burger and hot dog buns, loaves of bread, any of those tasty gluten free donuts or pizza shells (Schar makes a great one) would be great items to buy in bulk and freeze for later.
I know some people who actually buy and freeze produce but I can’t comment on that since I haven’t personally tried it. If you do give it a try, let me know your thoughts, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Selective Where You Shop
Keep an eye on prices when you shop at different stores. So far, I’ve found that Walmart has the best prices for the brands we like, more specifically pantry foods and condiments. I always get our chicken nuggets from there since they run just under $7, instead of paying at least a dollar or two more for the same exact product elsewhere. Evey bit counts, right?
Plus, I’ve been using their free grocery pick-up which is so convenient, especially with kids. You can download their app, add items to your cart, schedule a day & time for pick-up and voila! Grocery shopping done. It’s easier to stay within budget because you can see what your total is before you check-out.
I also really like Aldi for their “Live G Free” line. They have great sliced bread, burger buns, frozen pasta dinners and more that actually taste pretty good and are reasonably priced. To be honest, I had never shopped at Aldi before and didn’t get the whole quarter-for-a-cart thing, but heck! if I can find good gluten free food at a good price that my kids will eat, then sign me up!
Cook More at Home
I know it’s time consuming and isn’t very convenient but cooking on a more frequent basis can really save on your grocery budget. And the good thing? The more you cook the better you get which cuts down on time. I typically make naturally gluten free meals (ie. chicken with rice and salad), although from time to time we like a good spaghetti & meatball dinner… with garlic bread of course.
My favorite meals to make are the easy ones and I have lots of great ideas for simple meals on my Pinterest page. Now these aren’t my own recipes but I’ve found plenty of meal ideas that I like to use or even change-up a bit to appease some of the picky eaters in my family.
Added bonus: The more cooking done at home decreases the risk for cross-contamination
Going hand-in-hand with cooking, meal planning can really help cut down on the grocery budget because it helps keep you focused on what you need to buy for the week, instead of buying blindly. Find a printable meal planner online, print it out and frame it. Then use a dry erase marker to add your meals for the week. Erase on Sunday night and start again for the next week.
Meal planning can be tough to stick to but it will really help make a difference at the cash register.
Grow Your Own Produce
It’s something I would love to get into one of these days, but growing your own produce would cut down significantly on your grocery bill. Fresh fruits & veggies really do taste better (and cost much less) than what you find in the store. Add your Blue Apple to the mix and you’ve got fresh, long lasting produce for life! Even better, your own produce won’t contain those horrible pesticides they use in traditional farming.
And as always, never grocery shop hungry!
We’ve had a gluten free home for almost two years and I’ve learned a lot in that time. If you’re trying to make your home gluten free, check out my post, 5 Easy Steps To A Gluten Free Home.