Gluten-Free Living: Ten Cost Saving Tips (and Five Essential Pantry Items)

My family’s grocery bills can be pretty high because we buy organic foods, nutritious gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients, and a few of the more expensive “super-foods”.

My husband and I are investing in our health now so we don’t have to pay for it later. We’re both self-employed so a day lost to the cold or flu is a day of lost income.  We call it preventative healthcare.

There are lots of ways to save money if you’re living the gluten-free lifestyle.  I asked some friends on facebook for their tips for saving money.  These were the 10 tips that came up again and again.

Ten Cost Saving Tips for Gluten-Free Living

1. Pick 2 or 3 gluten-free flours instead of buying one of each.

2. Pair up with a friend or two and buy in bulk (online or locally through a co-op).

3. Shop locally and get to know your health food store employees; they’ll look out for you.

4. Limit the amount of processed and packaged gluten-free foods you purchase; not only will you save money, but you’ll also eat healthier.

5. Cook like your Grandmother or Great-Grandmother did – from scratch.  A loaf of store bought gluten-free bread can be 7 dollars.  I can make my own for 4 dollars.

6. Don’t try to mimic too many gluten-full foods.  Instead eat whole foods that come in a peel instead of a package.

7. Re-think breakfast foods – breakfast doesn’t have to be prepackaged cereal and toast. Try a smoothie, some stir-fried greens, or grain-free porridge.

8. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and stick to the produce section.  Not only will you avoid the costly packaged foods, you’ll also end up eating more fruits and veggies.

9. Eat out less often, especially since it can increase your chances of coming into contact with gluten.

10. Grow a garden or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  You’ll get amazing seasonal and organic produce, and maybe even legumes or grains.

“Going gf is only expensive if you keep replacing gluten-full processed foods with gluten-free processed foods.”

Debi from Hunter’s Lyonesse

So now that you have some tips for saving money, you’ll need to do some gluten-free baking.  Here are my essential pantry items for a standard gluten-free diet. Make sure that the items come from a certified gluten-free food processor.

FIVE Essential Pantry Items

As a blogger and recipe developer, I have a well-stocked pantry, but I wanted to narrow it down to five items that could get you started and that aren’t too costly.

1. Quinoa Flour – Quinoa flour has a stronger taste, but it’s so nutritionally dense that I can’t help but put it on my list. Balance out the flavors by using it with another gluten-free flour, like brown rice flour.  If you can’t stand the flavor of quinoa, try buckwheat or garfava.

2. Brown Rice Flour – This flour has a very neutral flavor and is really easy to find. It goes well in many recipes and with many other gluten-free flours, perfect for the gluten-free newbie.

3. Psyllium husks – I use these in my recipes instead of xanthan gum or guar gum. Psyllium is an excellent source of fiber and so far it’s worked just as well as gums in all of the recipes I’ve tried it in. Find it at your health food store.

4. Arrowroot Flour – Although I try to limit my use of starches, you can’t deny their effectiveness in gluten-free baked goods. Arrowroot is the one of the better starches as it’s pretty easy to digest and a little more nutritious. It’s also a great thickener so you can use it in sauces and dressings.

5. Almond Flour or Pumpkin Seed Flour –  These flours add so much flavor and nutrition to your baked goods. You can easily make your own by grinding raw almonds or pumpkin seeds. Lastly, they can be used in almost any gluten-free baked good.

 

One of our regular contributors just so happens to be an expert on the topic of saving money. Check out Adrienne’s cost saving tips for allergy-friendly living:

Savers might also use a coupon code when seeking discounts on gluten-free products.

What are your essential gluten-free pantry items? And how do you save money on gluten-free living?

 

Maggie is a co-founder of The Balanced Platter and is the author of She Let Them Eat Cake where she shares healthy, gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free recipes. She Let Them Eat Cake was born out of Maggie’s intense passion for feeding her friends and family nutritious and delicious food. Maggie has a Bachelor of Education and is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

22 Responses to Gluten-Free Living: Ten Cost Saving Tips (and Five Essential Pantry Items)

  • Thanks for the link, Maggie! You and I are so aligned with our food philosophies. Love your tips. I have a list of gluten-free food rules that I share with clients that are similar to what you have here. I like your “eat whole foods that come in a peel instead of a wrapper.” My version is “for the most part, eat foods you can hold in your hands and rinse in fresh water. You can wash an apple or cauliflower and rinse brown rice, but you can’t wash a box of mac and cheese or hamburger helper.” =)

    I love Balanced Platter!
    Melissa
    Melissa

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  • Maggie, thanks for the links! What a cutey pie in your photo! Your tips are exactly what I do – just hadn’t put it all in a post :-) !

    (Uh….I don’t think I’ve been called a money saving “expert” before – except by my husband. I’m flattered :-) !)

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  • Just shared this w/ my readers too! They are going to love this!

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  • sarah says:

    I have been wanting to make my own gluten free bread. Do you have a recipe that’s not too difficult?

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  • Maggie, these are all perfect tips!! I could not agree more on all of these! And, oh my goodness! That picture is absolutely ADORABLE…..seriously. She is too stinking precious!

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Thanks Kim – Yes, Livvie is my adorable little grocery helper :)

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  • Karen says:

    Thanks for this post. We just decided to go gluten-free and cleared out the pantry of non-GF food this past weekend. I was so confused when I went shopping to buy replacement flours and ended up just buying a random assortment. I’m so happy because the ones I chose are the ones you listed! The only exception was the psyllium husks and I was thinking of needing to go out and buy xanthan gum or guar gum this coming weekend. Now I’ll just pick up the psyllium husks instead. Do I replace them one for one in recipes or will I need to adjust measurements?

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    That’s a big move Karen! Congrats, I hope it goes so well for you. Personally, I would get a gum and psyllium husks this weekend. You only need a small amount of gums (1 tsp per recipe usually). I’m still using it in cupcakes and cakes, mainly because I haven’t had the opportunity to test them yet. As far as measurements go, I use 1 tbsp of psyllium husks where I would normally use 1 tsp of xanthan gums. Let us know if you have any more questions!

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  • Susan says:

    Do you use psyllium in the same quantity as xanthan gum in recipes? I’m always horrified at how expensive xanthan gum is.

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Hi Susan – I use 1 tbsp of psyllium where I would use 1 tsp of xanthan gum. I hope that helps.

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  • Katie C. says:

    Thanks for the great tips, Maggie. I’ll admit I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m catching on little by little. Will be sharing your advice with fellow Moms. Thanks again. ~Katie

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Hey Katie – I definitely didn’t get there over night either! Little by little is the best way, I think. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Alta says:

    Great tips, Maggie! I’m right there with you, definitely on the “peel, not a package” comment.

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Thanks Alta – That one came to me and I love it, I think I might tattoo it on my arm. Hehe.

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  • Mari says:

    I like using tapioca flour as a thickening agent…but your right just eat whole foods and try not to replace gluten processed foods with gluten free processed foods..Also ..LOVED your beet salad..made it the other night ..Delicious!!!

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Hi Marji – I really like tapioca too. I use arrowroot and tapioca interchangeably without any problems. So glad you liked the beet salad. I wish I could take the credit for it, but it was Ricki Heller’s :)

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  • Maggie Savage says:

    @sarah,
    I do have a recipe that is gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free on my blog. There aren’t any on The Balanced Platter yet. Let me know what your restrictions are and I can help you find a good recipe.
    Maggie

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  • Maggie Savage says:

    @Adrienne @ Whole New Mom,
    Thanks so much for sharing! Thanks for your help Adrienne!
    Maggie

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  • Maggie Savage says:

    @Melissa @ Gluten Free For Good,
    Yes! I will definitely be referring to this list again and again! I am adding your mantra too. The Balanced Platter loves you too Melissa!
    Maggie

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  • Such good advice here — keeping it simple and making my own. I especially like the “peel — not wrapper” concept!

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  • LOVE these tips Maggie.
    Missed you so much at Nourished and GFAF Expo. You ROCK!

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    Maggie Savage Reply:

    Thanks Tess! I will catch you next time for sure!

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