Anyone who is on a gluten free diet because of medical issues such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance knows how expensive grocery shopping for these products can be. Unfortunately, gluten free products are sometimes twice as expensive as products that include gluten. Whether by necessity or you’re simply looking to eat a healthier diet, here are a few different ways to save money:
There are plenty of places online that sell gluten free products, sometimes at a much more inexpensive price than what you would find in a grocery store. There are websites entirely dedicated to grocery items free of gluten, and there are also well-known sites such as Amazon that also have a wide variety of products to choose from.
Many deal sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial will occasionally have coupons, discounts, or deals for gluten free products. This could range from a discount for baking ingredients or a coupon for a specific website or store. If you are signed up for deals on these sites, make sure that your preferences are set so that you receive notifications when grocery products are listed as deal.
There are coupons for almost everything. A quick internet search for “gluten free coupons” brings up a fairly large list of coupon sites and deals. While some of these coupons may be for specific websites or stores, there’s quite a few that are good for products you’ll find in a local supermarket. It’s worth seeing what coupons you can find for these products if you’re truly interested in saving money on your next grocery trip.
Eat Naturally Gluten Free Products
A lot of people assume that a diet free from gluten means eating next to nothing. However, food items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, canned or dry beans, rice, or quinoa naturally are free of any gluten. These are items that are almost always on sale and it’s a great idea to load up on these staples to save yourself a few dollars.
Know Where to Shop
When shopping for gluten free products, it’s also important that you know the stores that carry what you’re looking for. Some grocery stores may only carry a small selection while others may carry a larger selection. Additionally, don’t rule out going to chain stores or small, independent stores. If you’re looking for certain items, you may have to look in places you wouldn’t normally shop.
Knowing where to stop for these products will also help you discover which stores offer the best prices. For instance, the gluten free bread you enjoy may be $2 cheaper at a chain supermarket than it is at a specialty food store. Or a specialty food store may be more willing to take online coupons than a larger supermarket. Shopping around for different prices is definitely a great idea if you’re shopping on a budget.
Avoid Pre-Packaged Gluten Free Items
While it might be tempting to buy premade gluten free pie crusts or desserts or other products, you should avoid them if you’re looking to save money. Many of the pre-packaged mixes, entrees, or meals are severely overpriced. Pre-packaged food is overpriced already, but ones marked as containing no gluten are sometimes twice as expensive. If you have the time, make desserts or food items from scratch instead of relying on a mix. There are plenty of websites that have easy directions on how to make gluten free meals or desserts from scratch.
Read Product Labels
If you’re new to buying these products or in a rush, you might not always read the product label closely. In doing so, you may accidentally buy an item that has gluten in it. While this may not seem like a big deal to some people, anyone on a strict budget knows that sometimes even the smallest extra expense makes a difference. Instead of just grabbing cans or boxes off the shelf, take a second to read the product label to ensure that what you’re buying is truly 100% gluten free.
Buy From Bulk Bins
A lot of stores have bulk bins of grains and beans, many of which are gluten free. These bulk bins are often cheaper than buying pre-packed items. However, if you plan on buying from bulk bins you may run the risk of cross-contamination.
A lot of people assume that they have to buy special gluten free products instead of cheaper alternatives. For instance, while there is gluten free pasta available you could also substitute it for rice noodles which are a less expensive alternative. Additionally, rice wraps are an easy substitution to bread or sandwich wraps. Instead of grabbing the first special gluten free package in the supermarket, do some research to see what other products are available for a cheaper price.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Swansen)