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Help With gluten-free On A Budget
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I have a friend who I know could benefit from going gluten-free (Couldn't everyone?) and he wants to give it a go but needs some help with what he can eat (brands and so forth). Obviously fruits, veggies, rice, potatos and meats are gluten-free but he has two young kids and so there will need to be the Fruity Pebbles and the like around, at least in the initial transition.

My problem is that I don't know how to advise him how to eat gluten-free on a budget. My husband and I don't have to worry about money to the same extent and so I can afford Larabars and organic and gluten-free labeled foods. I don't shop outside of those sections at all.

So how do you do this on the cheap? I know that I saw a thread about this some time back but can't seem to resurrect it for some reason. :( I also understand a number of General Mills products are labeled Gluten Free but he'll probably need more variety and some of those are way more expensive.

Is there a basic shopping list out there with name brands? I know there is that book but as I understand it it isn't accurate. Any help from the budget savy among you is very much appreciated!

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My food suggestions:

Pasta can be bought in bulk bags via that giant online retailer. Much cheaper, although still not comparable to wheat.

Corn tortillas.

Tortilla chips and plain potato chips are often safe.

Ice cream/yogurts often safe.

Fruit cups are good snacks for lunches, or just dish out fruit from cans/jars at home.

Watch for mixes on sale for sweets.

He could definitely work on switching his diet then work on phasing out the "kid food" more gradually.

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Here's General Mill's gluten free product list: http://www.liveglutenfreely.com/products/

With the exception of the gluten-free Bisquick and the gluten-free cake/cookie/brownie mixes, everything is the same price as their non-gluten free varieties.

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Lays STAXX all flavors are gluten-free and produced on dedicated lines. They are cheap-$1 per canister at Wal-Mart and dollar stores.

Flours and starches(rice, tapioca, potato) can be purchased at asian markets and in the international sections of some grocers for less than or just over $1 per bag.

All the usual frugal tips like fresh, whole foods, choose what's seasonal, rice, beans and potatoes.

We switched out cookies and the like for already gluten-free things like puddings, gelatin, fruit(apples and PB), popcorn(air popped for us), cheese and the like. Ice cream, popsicles. Just avoid obvious flavors like cookies and cream, cookies dough and such. Kraft will disclose all gluten on the label so if the words "barley" or "wheat" are not to be found, it's gluten-free.

Many companies have gluten-free lists on their sites. Hormel and JenniO do.

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I'm living gluten-free while on loans (still in school) and my biggest advice is to cook for yourself. Try to get the kids into quinoa, since that's a great nutrient source. Canned tuna and dried beans are both quite cheap, and hamburgers in lettuce wraps or nachos with beans and beef could be a fun treat for the kiddos. Crockpot cooking will be your friend. Find ground beef that's on manager's sale and buy it for lower prices than regular beef, then immediately freeze it in 1-pound chunks. Fresh fruits and veggies are cheaper if bought on sale, and even cheaper than that if bought canned or frozen. I buy most of my veggies frozen these days for that reason.

My best purchase since going gluten-free: my rice cooker with steamer attachment. It makes enough for two whole meals for me, so it could certainly be used to make a side dish for a family. And it cost about $20.

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About the only things I buy that are specifically gluten-free and, as a result, pricey, are bread, pasta, cookies, and baking mixes. You don't need the cookies and deesert mixes very often. There are corn based pastas that are cheaper than Tinkyada rice pasta. Found some at Walmart - Heartland brand I think it was.

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I agree with the suggestion to cook from scratch whenever possible. It does save a lot of money compared to buying prepackaged gluten-free specialty items. A little creativity goes a long way too. Pancakes are easy to make gluten-free, and could even be used in place of sliced bread. Frozen veggies and fruit can save money, especially if fresh are going to wilt and spoil before being eaten. Skipping the processed foods avoids much of the guesswork of figuring what's safe.

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Cooking for myself has been the easiest way for me. I'm a student on the diet, but I like exotic foods, so I basically have to cook anything interesting. I usually set aside one or two days per month to cook and freeze a ton. Then I just grab one of the frozen meals in the morning, and it thaws in my back pack by the time lunch rolls around. It's a good way to save even without a gluten-free diet.

Amazon is/was doing free Prime shipping for students. I think they still ship regular speed for free. I typically try an expensive thing at Whole Foods once just to make sure I like it, then buy it for half the price (in bulk) on Amazon. I get all my Bob's Red Mill, probiotics, sustainable canned tuna, and sometimes meal bars off Amazon.

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You have to rethink the way you eat in general to eat gluten-free on the cheap. Cooking is a must and you pretty much have to give up things like bread, breakfast cereals, crackers, pancakes, cookies, and so forth. Even the gluten-free flours are expensive and I just paid a ridiculous amount for a small package of xanthan gum. Breakfast becomes eggs and hash browns, or maybe tortillas or corn grits. Bacon and many sausages are gluten-free. Rice Chex is reasonably priced too. Lunches are salads, leftovers, homemade soups, fruit, yogurt, that sort of thing. No sandwiches if your friend needs to avoid expensive stuff, because gluten-free bread is not cheap. Dinner is easiest, with veggies, salads, meats, rice, and potatoes. Ice cream or candy for desert, since again the gluten-free cookies and mixes are pricey. The Betty Crocker mixes aren't too bad for buying occasionally.

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Thank you for all of your input and ideas everyone! I will pass on the info and hopefully it will help make things easier for him. :)

That blog is awesome! Very helpful to a beginner in this. Wish I'd have found it whilst doing my initial research. :P Ah well, reading nearly every thread on this forum was eye opening as well. :lol: Lots of real life experiences. B)

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No advice, you have to give up the convienece to feed a family on the super cheap. He needs to get them used to less sugar so they don't crave specific things as much. He can experiement with home-made dips using less refined sweetners for things like fruit, letting them help make it and pick the fruit. I buy meat when it's cheap and shred it up with veggies and rice or rice pasta to make it stretch. And add fat, garlic infused olive oil is yummy on everything. They might have to go through a phase where thier variety narrows until they feel desperate enough to expand thier preferences. That's what we had to do...

I have a friend who I know could benefit from going gluten-free (Couldn't everyone?) and he wants to give it a go but needs some help with what he can eat (brands and so forth). Obviously fruits, veggies, rice, potatos and meats are gluten-free but he has two young kids and so there will need to be the Fruity Pebbles and the like around, at least in the initial transition.

My problem is that I don't know how to advise him how to eat gluten-free on a budget. My husband and I don't have to worry about money to the same extent and so I can afford Larabars and organic and gluten-free labeled foods. I don't shop outside of those sections at all.

So how do you do this on the cheap? I know that I saw a thread about this some time back but can't seem to resurrect it for some reason. :( I also understand a number of General Mills products are labeled Gluten Free but he'll probably need more variety and some of those are way more expensive.

Is there a basic shopping list out there with name brands? I know there is that book but as I understand it it isn't accurate. Any help from the budget savy among you is very much appreciated!

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Kraft company owns LOADS of brands and Kraft is *very* upfront about ingredients in their products. You simply have to scan through the ingredients quickly and you can easily tell if one of their products contains gluten or not. Kraft owns brands like Oscar Meyer, Cool Whip, A1, Corn Nuts, Planters, Breakstones, Crystal Light, Taco Bell brand, Velveeta, Jell-O, Maxwell House, Phiadelphia, Tolberone, Kraft is always releasing coupons for their products and they go on sale for very cheap!

Hormel is another brand that is upfront about ingredients and even label their gluten free items as gluten free. (Dinty Moore beef stew, Hormel chili w/beans, Hormel pepperoni, etc) They put out quite a few coupons for their products often.

You mentioned General Mills, which has a lot of gluten free items and labels them as well.

McCormick makes quite a few gluten free marinades (yum!) and if it contains wheat, wheat will be in bold letters on the ingredient list. Last year I picked up 30 packets of McCormick marinades for free when I combined my coupons with a sale :)

All of Bush's Beans products are gluten free except for their Homestyle Chili.

In addition to the main brands, many off brands (Best Choice, Always Save, etc) are now releasing gluten free lists. If AWG products are available in your area, check out this site: http://www.awgbrands.com/glutenfree.html Most of the products in my pantry are actually Best Choice brand. I grab up canned beans, tomato sauce, chocolate chips, etc when they go on sale for very inexpensive. Always Save is starting to label their products as gluten free as well :)

And don't forget fresh fruits and veggies, potatoes, rice, and meat!

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I also suggest cooking as much from scratch as possible. I found myself out of a job the end of January. We had enough money saved up that we could live the same until July, and then it all got tricky from there. I started my own business, things are a little better, but we still have to watch what we spend. I rarely buy specialty gluten free products; I've found that I can make it for less and it tastes waaay better.

My kids are pretty much gluten free. Not for any specific reason other than I won't cook anything I can't eat. My son doesn't care as long as it tastes good. So, if I make gluten free bread, he'll eat it. You pay more initially for the flours and such, but I figured a loaf of bread costs me somewhere in the range of $3 to make. You can't buy it for that price...

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Our home is gluten-free, except for the their cereal, and I have to cook on a budget. I agree with all of the suggestions especially cooking with whole fresh or frozen foods. We don't eat red meat so I use a lot of chicken, ground turkey & fish. About the only specialty item I get is a loaf of bread for me and I fix pasta for the family once a month. Aside from not being that healthy they are full of empty calories. I am learning to cook basic easy stuff and believe me, I am no cook!

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You guys are great! Thank you! :D

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