10 Tips For Gluten Free & Clean Eating On A Budget


I read a statistic once that said eating gluten free was 242% more expensive than not! However, eating gluten free alone doesn't necessarily mean you’re eating healthy. If you want or need to be gluten free and want to eat a clean, whole foods diet, then you’ll have to add to that cost whole, organic, and “real” food. In the end you could spend a pretty penny, pretty quick.

But don’t let that deter you from a gluten free, clean eating diet! I have four hungry kids, one of whom has to be gluten free. We have to be gluten free and we have chosen to eat a clean, whole food diet as much as possible. How do we manage? No, we’re not super wealthy. (I wish!) We follow a tight food budget and then I do these 10 things to make sure we stay on budget and can still eat healthy and gluten free.

Gluten free

#1 Plan Ahead - Weekly Meal Plan

It doesn't have to be set in stone, but having some meals in mind for the next week or two can save you time and money. Shop for staple items you’re running low on and the ingredients you’ll need for meals the following week. I like to pick some meals that I could recycle - as in leftovers from one meal into another. I like to take into account busy days too and make sure I plan into my weekly menu a quick meal that I can just throw together.


#2 Make It Homemade


Buying pre-made, pre-packaged, gluten free products can be super spendy! With a box of ready to eat gluten free desserts costing anywhere from $6 to $12 it’s way more economical to have some yummy recipes on hand and make it yourself. Besides it tasting better, by making it homemade you’ll skip all the artificial additives and preservatives and know exactly what you’re eating.


#3 Buy In Bulk


Costco here we come! (Or whatever warehouse/bulk store you have nearby). I’ve found that I can get such a great deal and save a whole bunch of money by buying gluten free food in bulk. This doesn’t just apply to big families either. Aside from my local Costco, I take a portion of my monthly food budget and put it toward THRIVE food. I can get large cans or cases of freeze dried fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains like rice and quinoa. The best part is that THRIVE has a certified gluten free facility so I know that everything I get will be safe. Plus, I'm building up my food storage – which just makes me feel better about things.


#4 Shop Online


If you don’t live close to a bulk store or one that doesn't yet carry many gluten free options, then you can purchase it online through Amazon. Buying gluten free flours online will by far give you more bang for your buck. I buy all my flours online and then make my own flour blends. It’s way cheaper than buying a blend. Here are my gluten free flour blends and links to buy the gluten free flours online.


#5 Grow Your Own


There’s nothing better than fresh from the garden fruits, veggies and herbs that you've grown yourself. Even if you don’t have a huge garden spot, you can still grow your own produce in pots, garden boxes, or you could join a community garden. It will save you money big time on fresh produce. If you don’t think you could ever eat all those tomatoes, don’t worry- another way to save money and all that produce is to take an afternoon and do some bottling.


#6 Bottle it


Make salsa, marinara sauce, and chicken stock; can peaches, applesauce or jam. You can bottle almost anything so, really, whatever you have an abundance of. Just remember that due to the high heat needed to bottle you will lose anywhere from 60-70% of the nutritional value. Yikes! Luckily, there are somethings that do well with some heat. Tomatoes actually increase in lycopene (an easily absorbed antioxidant) when cooked. Also, I make bone broth from left over beef, turkey, or chicken carcasses. Bones contain nutrients that are easiest accessed by boiling them out - such as gelatin. Natural gelatin from bones can benefit skin, hair, digestion, joints, and may improve sleep.


#7 Buy Local


I grew up working every summer with my grandparents selling homegrown produce and flowers at the farmer’s market. You can get organic, fresh produce, honey, and eggs while supporting your community. If you don’t have a farmer’s market in your area or during the winter months I like to contribute to a food co-op like Bountiful Baskets.  I just contribute a certain amount and then go pick up a basket full of fresh fruits and veggies. It’s a great way to get a bunch of produce for a very reasonable price. *When possible always choose organic produce.


#8 Shop Seasonally


Speaking of farmer’s markets, it’s always a good idea to shop with the seasons. Buying fruits and vegetables that are out of season costs way more than it does otherwise. Not only is it cheaper, but also it’s healthier to eat what’s in season. Fruits, vegetables, and even dairy are more abundant in vitamins and minerals when they're grown or produced during their season. Be careful about dairy though and always try to use grass-fed, hormone-free, and organic dairy products.


#9 Skip The Sugary Drinks


This doesn't just apply to gluten free eating…just healthy eating! We've all heard the hype about the dangers of too much sugar. For many that usually comes in the form of soda. There's been studies done on the effects of diet soda and how it may or may not cause cancer, kidney/liver problems, ADD/ADHD or whatever else and regular soda isn't much of an improvement. Save yourself money and save your health. Don’t buy it! We also don’t buy fruit juices. Not only are they loaded with sugar, but most of the time the “fruit” juice you find in the grocery store contains little or no fruit juice at all. Eat fresh fruit and enjoy smoothies in the morning instead. Water is always best and far cheaper!


#10 Go Meatless


I love me some meaty meals, but 1-3 times a week it’s okay to go meatless. Not only is it healthy to replace meat with extra vegetables and whole grains, but it will save you money too. Let's face it, meat is expensive and especially if you prefer the organic, grass-fed variety. Replace your meaty meal with a high fiber, high protein bean soup, gluten free bread and a salad, or a quiche with a nut crust. The kids love our meatless days because we almost always end up having a healthy dessert after dinner!


What are some other ways you save money and stay on a budget while eating healthy and gluten free? Leave a comment and let me know!


Food Lamor by Melissa


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Melissa Moore has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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