Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Eating Gluten-Free on a Budget

Eating a gluten-free diet is not the cheapest way to feed oneself. It can really be a shock to the pocketbook if you're not prepared for it and especially if you are starting out.

Here in Canada, if  you are celiac you can deduct a small portion of your gluten-free grocery items when it comes time to file your income tax. But not all of us qualify for tax deductions and even if we do, our grocery bills are significantly higher than those who do not eat a gluten-free diet.

Here are some tips that might help along the way.

Plan your meals.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade says it best, "do some meal planning [and] shop with a list." Gail is right. When you're shopping with a game plan in mind, your focused on what you need rather than those wants that can destroy a budget plan. Don't just scope out recipes to help out with the meal plan, consider the left-overs that you have or will have during the week. Making extra for dinner will help take the load off of planning for lunches too.

Cook at Home.
I feel silly saying this but if you are going out to eat, your budget will soon run out. Duh.

Don't let cooking at home be a chore, cooking is more fun when you have company in the kitchen. And cooking alone should never be done without some good tunes.  Remember, the best parties start in the kitchen. And everyday should be a party!

Grow Herbs.
So, you may not have a yard to grow a garden but herbs can be grown in containers. Just about anything you can think of!  And there is nothing to make a meal come together than fresh herbs!

Love the Legumes.
Oh my goodness, I love beans and chickpeas and lentils. Not only are they economical they make delicious dishes. Dried beans are cheaper than buying them canned and I find soaking them and then cooking them in the slow cooker works well.

One of my favourites is adding black beans to salsa with a handful of toasted cumin and lime juice and giving it a whirl in the food processor.

Shop Seasonally.
In season produce is not only cheaper it tastes better too!  Check out what is growing in the garden or available at the farmer's market.  I know at this time of year there are farmers markets popping up everywhere across the city.  It makes for a lovely Saturday morning outing too.

Be Creative.
Be creative with left-overs!  Left-over vegetable curry is delicious in an omelette.  And left-over mashed potatoes make a great crust for quiche.  You'll save a handful of cash by avoiding those pricey gluten-free pie crusts.

Stock your freezer.
I'm not talking about stocking your freezer with processed gluten-free foods. Stock your freezer with go-to items that  help to put meals together.

  • Instead of buying frozen waffles I make my own.  
  • And pancakes too!  My favourite are the zucchini pancakes and they freeze well.  I make them when zucchini is in season.  
  • I like making my own Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. I wait until red peppers are on sale and that is when I make a batch. It freezes well. 
  • Chicken Pot Pies also freeze well, I tend to double the recipe and stock up. They are great for brown-bagging it.  

Get to know your local businesses.
It seems like more and more stores are carrying gluten-free products. Check out your neighbourhood. Here we have a fantastic shop that bakes fresh bread, pastries, and carries a variety of flour mixes, and dry foods all gluten-free. Unlike the big chain stores they offer a 10% discount on purchases made mid-week. See what deals the smaller retailers have to offer, you might be surprised while supporting a local business.

Well, those are a few ways I try to stay on budget with my gluten-free grocery bills. How about you?  Any tips you like to share?

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