I've worked through a series of food allergies with my son, beginning at birth, and now we're down to just peanuts. It's severe–we carry an Epi-pen everywhere we go–but it's doable. Thankfully, there are very few instances where it's been a big inconvenience or hassle. I know it's a different situation for my friend whose son is allergic to both dairy and eggs. And many of you have kids with even more restrictive diets.
Now that I'm eating gluten-free, I'm going through the same learning curve trying to figure out what to eat and how to pay for it. The good news is that once you know how to shop and eat frugally, you'll see that many of the same strategies apply whether or not you have food sensitivities, allergies, etc. Here are some examples:
- Make Your Own. Just as making my kids' waffles costs me pennies compared to buying frozen waffles at the store, the same goes for any expensive processed foods. Once you see the prices of gluten-free breads, cookies, etc. you'll want to learn to make them yourself. And even an expensive mix for GF bread costs less than the same loaves already baked.
- Buy in Bulk when you can. I can get a better price on a case of GF-certified oats or baking mix buying through Amazon than I can at a local store. If you don't need a large amount or can't store it, consider splitting a bulk order with friends/neighbors/others with the same dietary needs.
- Keep it Simple. Sticking with simple foods in their natural state is less expensive than buying processed foods. I've seen GF energy bars for $1.29/each at Trader Joe's, but they're just compressed nuts, cranberries, and sunflower seeds glued together with a brown rice syrup. I'm better off buying the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and making my own bags of trail mix. The same goes for meals; a baked potato is healthier and much more frugal than a GF mix for bread.
- Use Less of the Expensive Stuff. This came to me after feeding my family a 3.00 box of GF Cornbread–d'oh! Why do all five of us need to eat the expensive stuff if I'm the only one eating GF? From now on, I'll make corn muffins and freeze the extra. Then I can take one out for myself and the others can have regular, inexpensive cornbread. If you're feeding one child (or yourself) a special food, keep your costs down by substituting “regular” for everyone else.
- Combine Coupons with Sales, then Stockpile. Instead of spending $3.59 for a box of Corn Chex, I'm waiting for a good store sale. I have a handful of .75 off coupons that will double, but my money will go even farther if the price drops with a sale. Then, I'll buy 10 boxes to stockpile so that I don't have to spend $3.59 the next time we need a box.
Over the next few days, I'll share some recipes and ideas for gluten-free breakfasts, lunches, and dinners along with some great resources and blogs I've found over the past month of eating GF. I hope you'll help by sharing your own suggestions in the comments section of each post!
Image courtesy of Whatsername?