Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gluten free on a budget

This has been on my mind a lot lately and if any of you are like me, then you've been pondering it, too!  We are on a tight budget and food takes up a lot of it!  I know there are children out there that eat like birds, but none--not one!  have been sent to our home.  Poor kids inherited fast metabolisms from dad and a love for food from mom, so they're doomed.  And what kid isn't into social eating?  Dad's eating?  Kids want to, too.
Pre-gluten free, I still made everything (mostly) from scratch, but it was full of gluten.  Duh.  Or, doh!  I had a grinder and made our own multi-grain breads, rolls, muffins, desserts, ect.  Our food storage was full of wheat, barley, white wheat, spelt, kamut (my favorite!), rolled oats, oat groats, and steel cut get the picture.  Each of those, if not gluten-guilty, is guilty by association.  And I loved Annie's Mac and Cheese for those busy days (with lots of brocolli!).  But, I also had brown rice, and quinoa and used those on a regular basis--just not really in baking. 
Now we are gluten free and gluten free packaged items cost more.  The trade off is that they usually have better ingredients.  Even organic, if that means anything to you.  And probably not GMO, which is nice.  We also lost eggs and all dairy as well.  Or rather, my daughter did, and we all eat to her, for the most part.  So off the top of my head, here are some tips for eating gluten free on a budget:

  • Eat alike.  Feed the whole family the same meal.  Saves in many ways, but especially mom's time.  Cooking different meals for different family members is tough.  (tho I know some who have many intolerances and have to do this...) Home isn't a restuarant.  Which brings me to my next thought:
  • Limit eating out.   The good gluten free restuarants are pricey!
  • Invest in a good grain grinder like the Whisper Mill or NutriMill--my Whisper Mill is four years old and I've never had an issue with it!  And, obviously, don't buy used--same rule applies to grinders as to cutting boards.
  • Buy grains and anything else you can in bulk.  I buy my grains and legumes in 25 lb.  bags.  Other items I buy in quantity:  agave nectar, raw local honey (it's cheaper as a local source), sea salt, baking powder, starches, olive oil, coconut oil, ect.  Sweeteners and oils are usually cheaper by the gallon or more.  I buy my coconut oil in five gallon buckets.
  • Stock up on staples on sale--canned tomatoes, coconut milk, olives, ect.  Or at least buy one or two extra when you can and keep them out of rotation to stock up your pantry.
  • Keep aside a portion of your food budget (if at all possible) to save towards your larger purchases (if you can't buy them outright) such as bulk grains, ect. 
  • Utilize Amazon's Subscribe and Save and Mom's club for whatever packaged items you may need...chocolate chips, starches, ect.  I have a running shopping list and try to buy one 6 or 4 pack of something a month to stock up the pantry--free shipping and 15% off their regular pricing applies in many cases.
  • Cook from scratch.  If you can make it, don't buy it pre-packaged.
  • Buy naturally gluten free foods:  potatoes, legumes, fruits, vegetables (frozen, too!), ect. are all gluten free.
  • Check out your local scene:  you may be able to find raw honey (for example) less expensively in your area...farmer's markets are great, as is:
  • Gardening!  Depending on grocery costs in your area, gardening may be a good way to help the budget--it's also great for exercise.
  • Buy your meats and poultry on sale--even just one extra helps.

I'll try to post more ideas as I think of them.  These are some of the ways our family eats well--both gluten (and dairy and egg) free and on a budget.

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