Gluten-Free Living: Eating Healthy on a Budget
Has your grocery bill skyrocketed since beginning a gluten-free diet? If you’re living with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, removing gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is an essential first step on your path to wellness. If your goal is to eat a healthy gluten-free diet then these tips are for you!
In my experience, the most expensive part of eating gluten-free is the cost of pre-packaged foods which are specifically marketed as gluten-free: cereal, waffles, snacks, desserts, baking mixes, pizza crusts etc. These foods are high in cost and low in nutrients therefore the return on the investment of your money is very low. By limiting the amount of these expensive gluten-free convenience foods and replacing them with naturally gluten-free options you’ll drastically lower your grocery bill. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
1. Design your meals around foods that are naturally gluten-free such as fresh fruits and vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry and eggs. These are healthy, delicious, gluten-free staples that should represent the bulk of your meals. Pound per pound the cost of these naturally gluten-free foods are cheaper and more nutrient dense than your pre-packaged and processed gluten-free foods, therefore you get more bang for your buck!
2. Shop at farmers’ markets for your fresh produce. Buying local fruits and vegetables that are in season are extremely affordable compared to conventional grocery stores. There is also the added sense of community that you gain from meeting the people who are growing your food!
3. Purchase your meat in bulk and cut out the middleman by going directly to the farmer. Find a source of quality grass-fed meat and purchase a larger quantity, which can be stored in your freezer. You can also share the cost of buying direct with another family.
4. Invest in a large stand-alone freezer so you can buy and cook in bulk, freezing for future use.
6. Leftovers for lunch! To save time and money we make large, healthy meals for dinner and set aside leftovers that we can then heat up for lunch the next day. It’s usually cheaper (and easier) to make larger quantities of one meal then to buy the additional ingredients for a new meal. Planning to take leftovers or packing a lunch instead of eating out can really cut down on the cost of your monthly food bill.
7. Make your own soups and stews and freeze them in smaller quantities for quick and easy meals when you’re on the go. Homemade soups and stews are inexpensive to make and can easily be frozen and heated up for days when you don’t have leftovers for lunch or you’d like to take a break from cooking but still want to eat at home.
8. Experiment and learn how to make your own snacks and baked goods. Homemade sauces, dips, cookies, cakes and bread are all budget friendly if you buy the raw ingredients and make them yourself. Gluten-free baking is definitely an art, but with practice it does become easier!
Taking the time to learn how to cook and create meals from nutrient dense whole foods instead of pre-packaged processed foods is my #1 tip for creating a healthy, gluten-free life!