Gluten free living can be really expensive and completing your weekly food shop without breaking the bank is a challenge for many of us. I like to think of myself as quite a savvy shopper, but I am also time poor with a young toddler and busy life so am not able to shop around. Being coeliac for 20+ years has armed me with plenty of hacks and tips that I wanted to share with you all, in case some of these ideas help you guys to save some pennies too. Scroll on down for my full guide!
15 Top Tips for Being Gluten Free on a Budget
1) Deals & Offers
Have a read of my weekly Gluten Free Deals & Bargains Guide to find out which supermarket is running the best deals on gluten free items this week. Then make the most of these offers while they are on and use the guide to decide where is best to shop that week. If you have space in your kitchen cupboards and/or freezer you can then stock up on items while they are being sold for a lower price.
2) Keep an Eye out for Gluten Free “Events” in Supermarkets
These happen every now and then when a supermarket runs some significant discounts of the full gluten free range or has gluten free special buys. Ones I have seen recently are Aldi (plus usually every August they run a gluten free month in the Special Buys section) and Morrisons. In fact some of the Morrisons gluten free price crunches are still on and their range is really fantastic at the moment.
3) Yellow Stickers
Who doesn’t love a yellow sticker. I confess I buy most of my gluten free bread when it is reduced, bung it in the freezer then defrost as and when I need it.
4) Shop Outside the Free From Aisle
Try to buy more naturally gluten free foods if you want to keep costs down. Most of the things we make at home are naturally gluten free and I find gluten free bread, pasta and flour are the main items I buy from the free from aisle (plus a few extra treats here and there!). Have a quick look at this guide to see a list of foods that are naturally gluten free.
5) Learn to Cook
You will save some much money if you can learn to cook a few basic meals from scratch, rather than buying ready meals. Don’t be scared to give cooking a try, we all have to start somewhere and even if you have a few disasters along the way you will be a great home cook before you know it!
6) Use Leftovers
Rather than chucking leftovers and scraps in the bin, why not get creative and transform them into a tasty dish. Bubble and squeak style hash is perfect any leftover potatoes, veg, cheese and meat, or use meat scraps in soups and stir frys.
7) Get Creative with the Remnants of Your Fridge
Rather than despairing when you see a lone parsnip, pepper and half bag of spinach in your fridge, go rogue and attempt some sort of random dinner – the results might be delicious! I am a big fan of oven-roasting random ingredients together, traybake style (potatoes, veggies, halloumi cheese, some store cupboard spices, a bit of garlic yoghurt drizzle when finished) and soups (just bung veg in with an onion, some stock, then blitz smooth) as ways to finish off the contents of the fridge.
8) Make some Simple Swaps
Does anyone else love “Eat Well for Less“? I have learnt a lot from that show, including that frozen and tinned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh veg. We now use frozen spinach regularly, for example, and tinned lentils are a great switch rather than those expensive pouches.
Speaking of pouches, don’t use rice pouches as they are really pricey compared to a bag of dried rice, which will go so much further. You can cook a batch in advance then freeze in portions for when you need some pronto. Much cheaper!
9) Meal Planning
Sit down and plan your meals for the week, then write a shopping list based on what you plan to cook. This has saved us loads of money and also reduced our food waste (and the annoying early evening panic when you don’t know what to make and HAAAANGER is setting in). To get you started, here’s the first of my Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plans. I regularly cook my own recipes, ones from BBC Good Food, Nigel Slater, Melissa Hemlsey and others I have spotted on Instagram.
10) Prescription Products
If you have coeliac disease you may be eligible to receive some gluten free basics on prescription. It is a bit of a postcode lottery for those of us based in England, but speak to your GP and they will be able to advise you accordingly.
11) Meal Prep
Make your lunch for work ahead of time if you can and you will save having to spend £7-£10 (in London) on a grab and go lunch. We tend to cook a bigger dinner so that we have leftovers, then can bung in the microwave at work the next day (or freeze for future lunches). You’ll find loads of brilliant meal prep recipes online if you have a quick search, other people are far better at it than me.
12) Meal Deals
If you don’t have time to prep, try to make the most of a shop-bought meal deal at lunchtime instead. There are a few gluten free ones out there now and the best value ones are in Boots and Tesco.
13) Explore Your Local Market and Shops
Sometimes you can get some great value fruit and vegetables at your local market, and smaller shops like your local butcher might actually be cheaper that the supermarket (and better quality). My butcher is also really helpful at recommending cheaper cuts when I need to make something on a budget. Plus you can buy the exact quantity you need rather than a prepackaged bundle.
14) Look in your Supermarket’s World Food Section
Coconut milk is always cheaper here in my experience (and much nicer, I really like the “Pride” brand). You’ll often also find really good value chickpeas, lentils and rice. If you have space you can even buy those mega bags of basmati rice, which are brilliant value, or bumper packs of spices.
15) Eat Less Meat
You’d be surprised at how much this can save you. We only have meat a couple of times a week now and I am a big fan of roasting/poaching a whole chicken rather than buying chicken breasts. The meat goes really far and it’s a good money saver. I’m not saying we all need to be veggie, but give some vegetarian recipes a try and you might be pleasantly surprised (both by the taste and the positive effect on your bank balance).
I hope you’ve found this gluten free on a budget round up helpful. For more guides about gluten free life why not have a read of one of these:
- My Top Gluten Free Products
- New Gluten Free Finds December 2019
- Catering for Coeliac and Other Gluten Free Guests
- Are Leon’s Gluten Free Options Safe for Coeliacs?
- Is Pret Safe for Coeliacs?