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Having Trouble With The Grocery Bill
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We found out our daughter has celiac disease about 6 months ago and have made all the necessary changes in our diet. Eating gluten free has been a positive change for our whole family and we've enjoyed finding new foods to eat instead of bread, pasta, etc. Unfortunately I am having trouble keeping our grocery budget under control (especially difficult during holiday season) and still keeping everyone happy and fed. Specifically I am looking for any ideas as far as affordable protein foods. Would love any advice on how folks shop and specific food ideas that are celiac-friendly but will allow us to continue paying our mortgage. ^_^

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Well, lots of chefs will agree that the non-choice (not prime) cuts if meat are sometimes the tastiest. Generally, bony/fatty cuts are great in stews, pots of beans, etc. nowadays, the problem is finding those cuts...since most stores sell boneless, choice cuts. Shop the coupon flyers for deals. Some butchers let soup bones go pretty cheap or free when you buy other cuts. Costco sometimes has the best price around on large packs of meat.

Beans and peas are excellent protein choices - dry bags of those are super cheap.

Eggs are protein. Lots of quiche, torta recipes out there.

I think it's easier to cook a roast or large cut of meat on the grill or crock pot, then use it twice (leftovers) in a week. I make soups/stews and freeze half in single serving bags.

Quite frankly, cooking gluten-free on a budget is easy if you stay away from processed gluten-free foods. Plenty of mainstream junk foods are gluten-free - tostitos, etc. Hershey's kisses, M&M's. I do admit a recent addiction to Jules gluten-free flour blend. I can make my "old gluteny" baked goods/sweets recipes easily with it. The pain is in the shipping when ordering from her, so bulk is best.

If you like the idea of prepping everything one weekend and putting up freezer meals, I'm sure it's doable by modifying ingredients gluten-free.

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Some stores (most in my area) will discount fresh meats when they are "near" to their sell by dates. If you find out what time of day this gets done you can stop in and make some really great scores. I do this frequently, and can afford to stop in 2 or 3 times a week as 2 of these stores are within a mile of my house.

 

The other major thing I did for my grocery budget was to realize after it exploded that the reason that happened was the packaged foods. They cost a fortune! So I cut most of them out and cook nearly everything from fresh or frozen foods that are naturally gluten free.

 

I have a lot of family that does something like meatless Mondays or something like that. They do things with lentils or beans or... idk something like that. I can't really do much in the way of beans or lentils so that isn't in my immediate future but it's a great way to save money and keep to a budget.

 

I personally also love the breakfast for dinner idea. Even with a large family, a dozen eggs for under $2 will be more than enough for everyone. Add veggies in an omelet or some such and hashbrowns and you've got a whole meal.

 

Also, make sure you have checked for digital coupons for your local stores you shop at and have signed up for any rewards. Make a list before you go, check sales flyers online and then look for coupons you can print or check what coupons you got in Sunday's paper. There are plenty of coupons available that we can still use.

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Dust off your slow cooker!  It's super easy to cook less expensive meats in the slow cooker.  Stew, soup, roast, pulled pork, gluten-free pasta sauces, and my favorite is slow cooker fahitias and taco's.   meat, beans, onions, peppers and spices.  have some gluten-free wraps, lettuce and other veg, cheese and sour cream (if you aren't dairy free) and salsa.

 

If you don't own one, get a big one.  We make huge quantity's and have left overs!  

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I like putting a whole chicken into the crock pot. It is A LOT cheaper than buying individual pieces. You can shred it and divide it into portions to freeze or save for later.

 

One tip I use is I never cook with more than one expensive ingredient per meal. If we have something with meat, it won't have cheese because both are expensive. So we could have bean, rice, and cheese tacos or potato and cheese tacos, but not carne asade and cheese tacos. Rice & beans together is a complete protein so always put those together. Learn to love side dishes in your cooking. The main dish is usually more expensive, so throwing a side dish or 2 in there will lessen people's demand for the main dish.

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Someone on this forum tipped me on to nuts.com - if you go to Whole Paycheck for gluten free flours you'll pay 2-3x more than if you order them from nuts. I got a whole load of flours to mix together to make the recommended mix from http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ - and I plan to bake a ton of cookies with it because I got some gluten-free gingerbread men from Whole Foods and they were AWFUL.

 

I also got their yellow cake mix and made my own birthday cake with some handmade buttercream frosting. It was terrific.

 

Next big step will be making my own gluten-free bread, because for as much as I like Udi's it's way too pricey. And FYI - skip anything that Glutino makes. I haven't had a single product from them that tasted good.

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Coffngrl, I have to disagree with you about Glutino... I love the pretzels.

I do agree with everyone who said to cook from scratch. It is cheaper, better, and you have total control over the ingredients. Have packaged goodies (and there are some great things out there) as a special treat.

I find I come out better buying a premixed gluten-free flour, even though it is expensive, rather than buying six different flours to mix up. Unless you do an awful lot of baking, the ones you use just a little of will go "off".

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We found out our daughter has celiac disease about 6 months ago and have made all the necessary changes in our diet. Eating gluten free has been a positive change for our whole family and we've enjoyed finding new foods to eat instead of bread, pasta, etc. Unfortunately I am having trouble keeping our grocery budget under control (especially difficult during holiday season) and still keeping everyone happy and fed. Specifically I am looking for any ideas as far as affordable protein foods. Would love any advice on how folks shop and specific food ideas that are celiac-friendly but will allow us to continue paying our mortgage. ^_^

 

Eggs, beans, lentils, and things that mix up the protein well - chicken soup, salmon cakes, chili.

 

What sort of stuff are you usually making?

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Because it's perfect timing right now, check your local stores for great deals on hams and turkeys. You can freeze leftovers, and stores want what wasn't sold out of their freezers. My husband scored us a nice sized bird for $8! So sure, I'm not a really huge turkey fan... but for that price I'm pretty sure I just turned into one. Then you just dig up all the old Thanksgiving articles and recipes for what to do with leftovers.

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Something I looked up during my research is that if you keep track of the price for regular foods and the price you pay for gluten-free products, you can get tax credits with proof of diagnosis when you file your taxes. I will go back and see if I can find the link with that information. They will basically deduct what you spent extra on gluten-free foods from what you pay in taxes. 

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I've heard of this but it's extremely difficult to meet the minimum 10% of your AGI for the deduction.

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the  junk  food  we all don't   need  but love  is  the  real expense to the  gluten-free  lifestyle.... I cook  for  between 2 &  8  nightly gluten-free...... so I understand.... I do  buy  all my  gluten-free  in  bulk or  by cases......I  do  a lot  of  baking &  at  times  bread  making  when I  have the time....2  of  my  diners  are  teenagers  who love junk....so I always  have  sweets &  stuff for them  to  enjoy.....I buy all gluten-free  flour  by the case plus  pretzels ,  chips  &ect...... Costco has  a  lot  of  gluten-free  items  to buy in the  bigger  bags......plus  many  of the  sites  have free  shipping... stock up  when  things    are  on  sale.... If  you  start  by  buying  two instead  of  one  gluten-free  item  each week  you soon  will have  a  nice  little  stock pile for those  leaner  paychecks......

I  do like  others  cook a  larger portion  of  meat  to make  two meals  out of it.. save the  bones  for  broth  for  hearty soups.....

 

Gluten Free  on a Shoestring  is  a  great  cookbook plus  her  site.....

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Something I looked up during my research is that if you keep track of the price for regular foods and the price you pay for gluten-free products, you can get tax credits with proof of diagnosis when you file your taxes. I will go back and see if I can find the link with that information. They will basically deduct what you spent extra on gluten-free foods from what you pay in taxes. 

 

This counts as part of the medical deduction if you itemize on your taxes. It is difficult to keep track of everything and not worth it for a significant number of people unless they are already itemizing and already at or near the requirements for medical deductions. If you are interested, talk to your tax person when you get your taxes done for the details on what you need to do. As someone who used to do taxes and gave it up (because I like my sanity) I would recommend against it for anyone who isn't already itemizing and claiming the medical deduction. This really will only come into play if you are buying a significant amount of processed foods, if you eat mostly whole foods it'll never matter.

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