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How to Save Money on a Gluten Free Diet

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 5/25/2011

For people who have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, going gluten free is the only way to stay healthy. Gluten free isn't easy on a tight budget since many gluten free foods are very expensive. If you're on a gluten and wheat free diet as well as a tight budget, check out these tips.

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    The Gluten and Wheat Free Diet

    If you've been diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you know how difficult and frustrating it can be to find good foods on a budget. Gluten free food options are available, but the costs are extremely high. With $6 cake mixes that only make one layer and $8 for pizza dough, it's easy to become upset when you first go grocery shopping after being told to avoid gluten. We all want to eat well, and believe me, wheat and gluten are in a lot of foods. It can seem daunting to say the least when trying to find safe and healthy food options for those on a gluten and wheat free diet.

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    Eat Plenty of Whole Foods

    Unless you're intolerant of other foods, those on a gluten and wheat free diet can eat unprocessed meats, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and many gluten free grains. These include rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Buckwheat does not contain wheat as the name implies, but many buckwheat baking mixes do, so read labels carefully. Also, be careful in the meat section. Sausages, hot dogs, and many processed lunch meats contain gluten. I would suggest natural hot dogs and sausages that are free of nitrites and all fillers.

    In most grocery stores, whole foods are found around the outside perimeter of the store. The produce, dairy, and meat sections usually are places you'll find lots of gluten free items. The inner aisles contain processed foods that are typically full of gluten. You can find good things there too, but most of your foods will come from the outer perimeter. You can't go wrong eating whole foods. They are fairly low in cost, minimally processed, and much healthier than all those processed foods out there anyway. Going gluten free sort of forces us to eat healthier, which can't be a bad thing.

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    Find Gluten Free Gems

    I have found some gluten free gems during my shopping quests for gluten free foods. My first trip brought tears and frustration, and I thought I'd never be able to eat anything good again. Thankfully, I soon found out that wasn't true. I found Rice Chex to be a great gluten free cereal. It's regularly priced, nutritious, and right there with the other cereals. It's clearly marked "gluten free" too. In the peanut butter section, you'll find "White Chocolate Wonderful" gluten free peanut butter. It is an amazingly delicious, natural peanut butter with white chocolate, sweetened with evaporated cane juice. It's clearly marked "gluten free", and contains all natural ingredients. My favorite snack since going gluten free is to spread White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter on Van's Gluten Free Frozen Waffles hot out of the toaster. Van's gluten free frozen waffles are the best! The price is great and the taste is awesome. When you're craving something high in carbs, go for this snack. You surely won't feel deprived. The high protein peanut butter balances out the carbs and makes for a filling and delicious treat. I also like this with sliced apples.

    Hit the natural foods section of your grocery store and you'll probably see a gluten free section. Here's where you'll find all the replacement items, like gluten free cookies, cake mixes, brownie mixes, pie crusts, and bread mixes. You'll even see loaves of ready made gluten free bread. Don't even think of trying it! It's horrible. Instead, try some of the mixes, and find the ones that you like best. I've noticed that everyone has their favorites. These mixes are expensive, and that's no joke. Seriously, I made a gluten free cake, and paid over $5 per layer and another $5 for gluten free frosting. The bad part was that it tasted horrible. Betty Crocker just came out with gluten free cake, cookie, and brownie mixes though, and they are wonderful! I'm impressed with the taste, and the cost is not quite as high as most gluten free cakes. I paid around $4.69 for the cake mix, and you can just use Betty Crocker frosting from the can, which is gluten free. As far as bread goes, I love Bob's Red Mill' GF Wonderful Bread Mix. You can make it in a bread machine, but I don't have one, so I make it in a loaf pan in the oven. It is so yummy, you'd never know it was gluten free. We slice it and use it for toast, sandwiches or whatever we want.

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    Read Every Label Every Time

    When you are on a gluten and wheat free diet for health reasons, you have to be diligent about reading labels. You can't assume anything. Products that have always been gluten free can and do change formulas. Take along a list of ingredients that could contain gluten and check every single item that has an ingredient label. It is time consuming, but in order to avoid an accidental "glutening", it must be done.

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    Try Then Buy in Bulk

    Once you've found your own gluten free gems, go online and find them in bulk. Amazon.com has a ton of foods and mixes for a gluten and wheat free diet available at reduced prices. I have found it is best to try them at the higher price, then order the things you really like in bulk. That way you don't get stuck with 6 bread mixes that nobody will eat.

    If you've been forced to go gluten free due to gluten intolerance, Celiac Disease, or any other reason, look at it as a chance to explore a whole new world of interesting foods that have been there all along. Experiment and find out what you like. I know if I hadn't gone gluten free, I would have never tried so many interesting foods, like sorghum flour or quinoa. There truly is a whole world of amazing and nutritious foods out there to explore!

Overcoming the Challenges of a Gluten and Wheat Free Diet

It can be quite a challenge for people with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease to find delicious, nutritious gluten free foods. Gluten free products are expensive, and gluten and wheat free grains are a little harder to find, but with a bit of effort and guidance it can be done.
  1. Starting a Gluten Free Diet
  2. How to Save Money on a Gluten Free Diet
  3. Healthy and Tasty Gluten Free Grains
  4. Foods That Contain Gluten: Check that Ingredient Label!