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gluten-free Food Too Expensive... Tips For Feeding Family?
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Does anyone have thoughts or tips on how to feed a family of kids gluten free? I only buy bread ($4 a loaf), pasta ($2 a package), and all purpose flour for making homemade cookies/cakes. Doesn't it seem like there should be cheaper gluten-free bread available? I just wish there was like a cheap white sandwich bread available, even if it had high fructose corn syrup or wasn't organic. What do you do to save money on gluten-free groceries?

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We spend far less than most people with a mainstream diet, and we eat organic for the most part, but we do extra work to make it happen. We are involved in a buying club where people coordinate farm direct buys of high quality whole foods and host drops at their homes. We also cook from scratch and avoid prepackaged foods. We have a big freezer and freeze our bulk buys of meat and summer fruit and other produce. We also can and dry food throughout the year. Instead of buying yogurt we make our own at half or less the cost. We make extra when cooking, and eat left overs a lot (or freeze or can the extra for later). We don't buy bread, cereal, cookies or crackers as a regular thing, and we've stopped eating them for the most part. Instead of trying to replace former staples, we've changed the menu completely.

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Rice cakes are a good cheap replacement for bread. Rice is a good cheap replacement for pasta.

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My SiL cooks rice and potatoes when I'm around, which are cheap. The kids are fine with rice and love tater tots and frozen french fries. My super-picky nephew tasted a rice cake when I visited a few years back and decided he loved them. He isn't even celiac and asks for a rice cake instead of bread half the time. You can also warm a corn tortilla and make cheese and lunchmeat wraps. I wish I could get good gluten-free bread for $4 a loaf. Udi's runs $6 around here.

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I just don't buy bread and pasta very often. I make most of my meals with rice, potatoes or corn instead when I'm eating carbs. I'm tryign to get back to low carb diet however I can understand that may not work for family. A bowl of chili and cornbread is cheaper and "normal" for a meal. I do a lot of stir-fried meat and veg over rice too. I also use coupons to stock up on gluten-free mainsteam staples whenever I can get them cheap. Some food items I often see coupons for: Progresso soup, Mission corn totillas, Yoplait yogurt, eggs (all kinds), Mahatma rice, chex cereal, canned tomatoes, canned fruit (Dole or delmonte), dried fruit (Sunmaid), Tuna (starkist or Bumblebee), frozen veggies (Birdeye or Green Giant), etc. Plus most coupons are for non-food products. Saving money on Toilet Paper and Tooth paste allows me to budget more toward fresh meat and fresh fruit which don't have coupons very often (although fruit coupons are not unheard of--I once got peaches and necterines for about .02/lb after coupons. I filled my freezer with them and enjoyed them for a good six months after that.) I also grow some of my own food in a small patio garden. I live in an apartment but I have had great success growing peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and fresh herbs all in containers on my patio. The fresh herbs are almost a must when you are trying to cook gluten free. While yes there are plenty of safe dried ones (I have a big collection of McCormick too thanks to coupons), the fresh ones give you the benefit of more flavor AND the added piece of mind that your know exactly where they came from. My final strategy for saving money is to buy in bulk from BJ Warehouse. I get my meat, butter, honey and some produce there on a regular basis. You do have to watch the prices--not everythign is a deal--but they have many gluten free products there as well including chex cereals and Betty Crocker Potato Buds.

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We also do beans a lot b/c my son absolutely refuses meat - regular beans and bean patties. Very cheap. I will also give him a scrambled egg and a side of sweet potatoes more often than I should admit! I know what you mean - gluten-free bread is ridiculously expensive. I'm lucky in that my son is the only one who is gluten-free, so a loaf of Udi's lasts a while in our house. We also shop at the farmer's market for fruits and veggies which helps some. We got a juicer for Christmas so we've been able to use that to use up any extra produce.

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We're in the same boat as Domesticactivist. We had to simply change our menu completely. So we have meals that are much higher in veggie content, with small bits of meat mixed in, and whole grains periodically. Fruits are our dessert treat, especially when we dry them now, or cook them and add to whole grains.

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We eat a lot of popcorn. I buy it at my health food store and pop it in a pan. Potatoes and rice are other foods we eat a lot of.

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Polenta instead of pasta. Takes a little work, but you can soak it first and then it cooks faster (less stirring). Pasta in bulk via amazon. That brings the $8.00/lb kind I like down to $3.20/lb. Still more expensive, but not quite so much. Tortilla chips instead of crackers. Homemade hot chocolate is now a typical dessert, instead of cookies/cake.

Lunch also involves packed leftovers, generally rice or potato/sweet potato based but sometimes bean/lentils based. Lots of soup. Fruit instead of sweets, or else I have chocolate. Lunches are typically around $1.50 each. (i.e. $0.15 dried beans with $0.30 onion and carrot and $0.35 potato and $0.50 apple and maybe $0.10 spices/oil). Cabbage is my bought green veg pretty often in the winter but I do grow other veg the rest of the year and have some frozen.

Weird breakfasts, actually. Breakfast is often finishing up leftovers, like leftover rice and salad with an egg. Pancakes, homemade, are really the only bought breakfast/bready thing I eat at all regularly.

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we have a large family of 8 and we all mostly eat gluten free now. (celiac always gluten free) we do most of what you all have mentioned, canning, farmers market, freezing ect. We stock up on Gluten-free products when on sale. we cook everything from scratch so it does take longer for sure, especially in our bulk load. Baking our bread helps too.

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We've had to adjust our cooking. We order gluten-free pasta online and in bulk. This has helped. I'm signed up with Amazon Prime so this gets us free shipping. I am still working out what to do with bread. My family does not like homemade bread. I've tried. We do mostly things that are naturally gluten-free. I've switched to Progresso soup and use that for a lot of my recipes now. We use cornstarch now instead of flour for sauces and gravies when we can. We are still struggling with the cost some, but since gluten-free has kept us from eating out the money we are saving from cutting out all take out is helped offset the cost of gluten-free.

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After recently talking with a friend who is the gluten free industry, I finally understood why the products cost so much more. For a product to be certified gluten-free it must go through many more steps and inspections such as cleaning machinery, packaging, testing etc. to insure the safety of the food. It gave me a much better understanding of the cost justification. That being said, we have found that using rice, potatoes and many asian noodles has been more affordable and luckily for us, our daughter enjoys eating these foods. I have had great success with asian rice noodles and when purchased at an Asian market they are quite affordable. Also, if your gluten free family member is school age, it is worth asking your school district if they can provide a gluten free lunch. Our district does and the cost is the same as regular school lunch. It also offers a greater variety including hot foods rather than me sending a sandwich on gluten free bread every day. I hope you can find some affordable options that your family will enjoy eating.

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    • Another link: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/7351/PDF
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