Gluten-Free groceries can get expensive. With the right tips for saving and the right resources you too can save on your gluten-free groceries.
Do you keep track of how much you spend each month at the grocery store? I recently started tracking my grocery bills to see where it was adding up. Like many people when they start a gluten-free lifestyle, we like to try new gluten-free products… and depending on how you go about it, it can get really expensive.
We are a simple family of four and we have been gluten-free for seven years now. When we first started, there were very few gluten-free packaged products available. Only one type of gluten-free bread was available at the store near our house and it tasted like cardboard. Luckily we have come a long way the past seven years and there are tons more options. As you know, even though we have more options now, we are also paying a lot more at the check stand for gluten-free versions of our favorite foods like cookies, pretzels, and breads. Our family sometimes splurges on the occasional lamb steaks, or the T-bones, but really we keep most of our meals simple which helps keep the grocery bill balanced.
The things that we tend to spend more money on every week are gluten-free snacks, breads, and almond milk (two of us are dairy-free as well). Until recently, I would pick whatever I wanted off the shelf without thought to how much I was actually spending on the products. For example, we buy pineapple cups for the girls lunches. There are six in a package, and they are super convenient. We pay an average of $3 per package. I realized the other day that I could get more pineapple out of a 16 oz. can (or even fresh when on sale!) for way less. This last week I switched to the can and put the pineapple in individual containers myself. It saved me $2. Well $2 a week is over $100 a year in savings. Guess what? This week I did the same thing with applesauce and saved myself another $1 a week. It may not sound like much, but it adds up over time.
I know apple sauce and pineapple are naturally gluten-free. Why am I telling you this? First, all fruits and veggies are gluten-free and people on a gluten-free diet tend to eat more of them. Second, it’s the strategy that is important which leads me to my first tip.
Buy in bulk and/or package your own foods in containers:
I gave you two examples above, the pineapple and the applesauce. You won’t believe how many things you can buy in bulk and divide up.
- Cut up our own fresh fruit like apples and watermelon. We never buy the pre-cut fresh fruit because one, we don’t know how fresh it really is, and two it’s more expensive. You can buy a whole watermelon for the same price as a half pre-cut watermelon. Also, you can get a 5 lb. bag of babby carrots for the same price you can get a packages of eight single serving bags of baby carrots. Why spend more when you can spend less for more!
- Buy larger bags of snack foods like chips and pretzels and portion them out into serving sizes in smaller bags and containers (instead of buying the pre-portioned smaller bags).
- Buy nuts and seeds in bulk and mix up our own trail mix. It save’s up to 75% making your own trail mix vs. purchasing a pre-made, individual sized trail mix.
- Buy concentrated orange juice and add water vs. the ready to drink OJ.
- Instead of sending juice boxes in our girls lunch, we send water or buy a gallon of 100% apple or cranberry juice and send it in a water bottle.
- Stock up at a sale on one of your favorite gluten-free snacks. It may pinch the pocket book that week but it saves money in the long run. Think long term – over the entire year.
Working on saving on all our groceries leaves room in the budget to splurge and buy something gluten-free that’s not on sale. Because, lets face it. Gluten-free packaged goods are expensive and they’re not always on sale!
We usually shop in bulk at Costco and Trader Joe’s for gluten-free breads, cookies, crackers, and pretzels. And what we can’t get at Costco or Trader Joe’s, we get at New Seasons. Our local New Seasons does a 50% off gluten-free sale every May for a week. Last year I printed my coupons (and saved them up for a month) and loaded my basket up with gluten-free goods. The combination of the sale plus the coupons saved me over 60%! We just finished the last bag of Pretzels a month ago.
Sometimes the store brands (like Trader Joe’s and Target) are cheaper than a leading brand. Always check the labels to make sure they are certified gluten-free and don’t contain any gluten ingredients.
Print off coupons from manufacturers sites for gluten-free products:
The other thing that I decided to do is print coupons from manufacturers’ website. They are legitimate, and they can save you a bunch. The following sites allow you to print coupons straight from the web and it saves you a ton on your normal gluten-free shopping list. I printed coupons from these sites this week and saved myself over $6.
Make meals at home:
And of course the other thing we do, which you probably hear about a lot, is make most of our meals at home. It is less expensive and you know that you are safe from cross contamination. Here’s a list of things I make at home that I used to buy from the store.
The donuts at our local store usually run $6 for a package of six and need to be stored in the freezer until consumed. I can make 12 donuts for less than $2 and freeze them. That’s twice as much for one third of the cost. The same thing applies to crackers, muffins, and cupcakes. There are plenty of easy recipes out there that can be made by anyone. Pick your favorite one, double or triple the batch, and freeze the rest for future consumption.
How do you save on gluten-free groceries? Have a tip that’s not listed here? Let me know and I may add it to the post (with credit to you of course)!