Once a doctor or health professional tells you that you need to go gluten free, your whole world just turns upside down. I know that it may be hard to believe, but it feels like that. Imagine walking into the supermarket and knowing that half the food in there you cannot eat because it makes you ill. That for everything you have to eat from now on you have to know what’s in it, you need to know where it’s from and you need to read every single label.
It is not fun.
It is however, necessary.
The annoying part (besides having to read every single label or ask ‘what’s in it’) is that gluten free food is always much more expensive.
For example, the pasta I buy is the cheapest gluten free pasta there is. Its a 500gm bag and from Coles it is $3.10.
Orgran is a well known gluten free label, their pasta comes in 250gm packets for $2.89.
Normal pasta you can get as cheap as 500gm pkt for 59 cents!
I had a comment from one of my readers last week who said that her shopping budget has gone out the window since her doctor advised her to go gluten free. Did I have any tips to do gluten free cheap?
I am a self confessed bargain hunter so it kills me (and my own budget) to pay a fortune for gluten free food. So yes I have some tips.
Back to the Basics
I totally agree with another reader who answered in the same thread, go back to the basics. Fresh fruit and vegetables. They are your best friends. Buy in season and you are all set for the basis for your meals and snacks. Not to mention they are the healthiest food you can eat.
Rice is wonderful base for meals. And it is cheap! You can make risottos, rice based quiche, risotto balls, fried rice. It also makes a great side dish.
Ok, some meat is not cheap. And some of it has gluten so be very careful when buying it. I am a vegetarian so I am no authority on gluten free meat. I do see supermarkets with gluten free sausages and ham. Anything else I don’t know so check with your butcher. Most supermarkets have butchers on site so don’t be shy to ask them.
Similar story with fish as with meat. Ask before purchase, fish from a fish monger is generally ok. I buy fresh fish from these guys, budget permitting as it can be pricey. If you are a regular reader you will know I have many tuna recipes on this site. That’s because it is something we all will eat, from the toddler to the husband. It’s gluten free (check the label!) and it’s cheap.
Canned pink and red salmon is also a healthy option. It is also cheap in comparison to fresh salmon but is still very good for you. And convenient. Canned fish is something you can buy and stock on the cupboard and it won’t go off but is a fantastic main ingredient.
Eggs are such power packs and such a versatile food. They are great for quiches and frittatas as well as handy for cakes and muffins.
Oh I almost forgot beans! Canned chickpeas, kidney beans and 4 bean mix are fantastic and so cheap. As they are full of protein they can be the base of any meal. I make a bean and tomato mix that is great with pasta, rice or baked tomatoes.
Gluten Free Cheap Snacks
Ok, I know what you are thinking. That’s great for meals but what about the fun stuff, what about snacks, biscuits and those sorts of thing?
Well yes, that can be tricky. You buy those packets of gluten free biscuits and cakes and that is where your money goes. A packet of gluten free biscuits will set you back $4+
The cheapest way to get gluten free snacks is to buy your own flour and make your own. I buy Orgran Gluten Free flours, I find them cheapest at Coles: 500gms for $2.99
Then once you have the flour, things like eggs, sugars, cocoa powder are all ‘normal’ so they are the normal food prices. You can make many things like pikelets, cupcakes, muffins, fruit slice. Check out my Gluten Free Recipes page for those recipes.
I also get Real Food Rice Cakes, they are about $2 from supermarkets. You can put anything on them, tomato and cheese, tinned tuna or even Mighty Mite, peanut butter, jam, anything like that.
Popping your own corn is another very cheap snack. Our popcorn maker gets a good work out. Corn kernals are only $1 – $2 a pack.
Plain rice crackers are fantastic on their own or with dips. Buy them for the biscuit aisle, both Coles and Woolworths have their own brand that are gluten free. Usually about $1.40 a packet. Dips can be cheap, again check the ingredients. Salsa is yummy also with rice crackers and you can get them for $2 a jar if you get the Coles brand.
I hope this helps some of you out there and if anyone has any other cheap gluten free food tips I would love to hear them!
If you have just found out you need to be gluten free, check out my 10 Tips to Get Started Being Gluten Free post.