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Your One Best Money Saving Idea


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34 replies to this topic

#1 aeraen

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:32 AM

One of the things I notice a lot with newer members is concern about the cost of eating gluten-free.

Considering that our economy is in a looooong downswing, not everybody can afford the high cost of some of the gluten-free foods out there. Let's share our hard-won information with newer members who may be a bit daunted by the prices they see in the specialty stores.

What "secret" do you use to make eating gluten-free affordable?
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#2 ciavyn

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:46 AM

Don't buy gluten-free foods. :) At least, the pre-packaged kind. Buy whole foods, and things that are naturally gluten free. Shop with coupons and follow the sales.
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Gluten free: Nov. 2009
Peanut and dairy free: Dec. 2009
Rediscovered dairy: March 2010 (in small quantities)
Peanuts added back: June 2010 (in small quantities)

#3 Katie B

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:28 AM

Definitely agree with clavyn's advice. It's also worth shopping around - many health food stores offer different prices - unlike the big stores they don't compare prices as often.
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Diagnosed with eczema 1999, IBS 2004, Horner's syndrome 2004, severe anemia (B12) 2006, reactive hypoglycemia 2007, hypopituitarism due to autoimmune attack 2009 (diabetes insipidus - lack of vasopressin, lack of cortisol), potential Celiac Disease - difficulty getting 100% diagnosis but have gone gluten-free and am feeling better.

#4 Brigit

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:00 AM

I was about to post a topic on how the cost of this is overwhelming me, when I saw this post.

I've just come back from the Nutritionist. One stool test later at the cost of more than a tenth of our combined salaries, as well as the high price of the consultations. I'm now been told to go on all sorts of gut healing medication and supplements. This after a day out shopping for gluten free products to stock our cupboards with. We honestly can't afford it, we are just making it every month, we don't have spare money for medical bills, we can't even afford to go watch movies or buy new clothes. :( I don't know what to do! I'm too scared and sad to tell my husband what this is going to cost us for the next few months as they want to put me on progressive treatment.

:( This feels really unfair! And my poor husband, 5 months into marriage, he finds out his wife is going to either cost him a whole lot of money or be sickly forever.
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#5 aeraen

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:11 AM

I was about to post a topic on how the cost of this is overwhelming me, when I saw this post.

I've just come back from the Nutritionist. One stool test later at the cost of more than a tenth of our combined salaries, as well as the high price of the consultations. I'm now been told to go on all sorts of gut healing medication and supplements. This after a day out shopping for gluten free products to stock our cupboards with. We honestly can't afford it, we are just making it every month, we don't have spare money for medical bills, we can't even afford to go watch movies or buy new clothes. :( I don't know what to do! I'm too scared and sad to tell my husband what this is going to cost us for the next few months as they want to put me on progressive treatment.

:( This feels really unfair! And my poor husband, 5 months into marriage, he finds out his wife is going to either cost him a whole lot of money or be sickly forever.


Oh, Brigit, :big hug:, I'm so sorry this is causing you such stress. The biggest reason I posted this, was because of how many people see only the high cost of eating gluten free, and get overwhelmed by it all.

I've actually found that I don't spend much more, and maybe even less, than I did before, because we just do so much more ourselves now. And my whole house is gluten free (at least IN the house... what happens beyond my lot line is out of my control :ph34r: ).

Those who who have been through the medical mill (I'm self diagnosed, stopped eating gluten = felt better. Began my research online) can probably make suggestions at to how to approach that aspect of your diagnosis, and maybe help you to save some money there.

However, there are lots of ways to make your favorite foods gluten free w/o taking out a second mortgage. Just ask questions, and keep reading this forum. You have some incredibly informed people here. Some , I would venture to say, are better informed than the medical community, because they have lived with it for years.

By the way, your post reminded me of an old Erma Bombeck line. Apparently, she ended up with several medical issues shortly after getting married that required a couple of surgeries and some medical treatment in the first year of her marriage. Her husband eventually said (jokingly) to her father "You sure knew when to unload her, didn't you?"
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#6 zus888

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:19 AM

I wish I had the answer to this. My food bill is probably about twice what it used to be. I used to get frozen chicken at a discount grocery store, but there's broth injected into the chicken and I never heard back about the status of it being gluten free. So, now I pay more for the chicken at our big name grocery store. I'm eating more fresh fruits and veggies, which add to our bills, and there's no coupons for those! The cereal I used to buy at the discount grocer cost under $2 per box, and now I'm paying almost $4 for Chex. Let's not even get into the processed foods or specialty flours and mixes. I honestly don't see a way to reduce the bills to bring them down to pre-celiac levels unless I start growing my own food.
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Suzanna

#7 Monklady123

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:46 AM

I was about to post a topic on how the cost of this is overwhelming me, when I saw this post.

I've just come back from the Nutritionist. One stool test later at the cost of more than a tenth of our combined salaries, as well as the high price of the consultations. I'm now been told to go on all sorts of gut healing medication and supplements. This after a day out shopping for gluten free products to stock our cupboards with. We honestly can't afford it, we are just making it every month, we don't have spare money for medical bills, we can't even afford to go watch movies or buy new clothes. :( I don't know what to do! I'm too scared and sad to tell my husband what this is going to cost us for the next few months as they want to put me on progressive treatment.

:( This feels really unfair! And my poor husband, 5 months into marriage, he finds out his wife is going to either cost him a whole lot of money or be sickly forever.

First of all I know it seems overwhelming at the beginning! But it is possible to eat gluten free and not break the bank.

I wonder at what all the "gut healing medication and supplements" are exactly? Might be worth talking with another doctor. Vitamins are a necessity (according to my doctor anyway) but she didn't prescribe anything else for me.

As for gluten free foods... well, really most food in its natural state *is* gluten free. Meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes, dairy, nuts, legumes. (of course many people have sensitivities to some of those things too, but at the moment I'm just talking gluten free). The cost really goes up if you start buying specialty flours, baking mixed, packaged cookies, etc. I went a bit overboard with the cookies and things in the beginning, but now I've realized that chocolate is gluten free, Snickers are, chips and dip are (read labels of course, since some aren't) -- Utz potato chips are gluten free and they're one of the least expensive at my store.

The only thing that I buy regularly that really is expensive is Udi's bread. But on the other hand it's just me eating it so it lasts awhile, unlike a regular loaf of bread in this house (I have a teen boy and you know how they can eat! :blink: )

The main thing about this diet is that it takes more thought than our pre-gluten-free days. And since I hate to cook (and hate to grocery shop, and hate to think up what to cook, and hate....well you get the idea, lol) this is the problem for me.

But after awhile you'll get the hang of it, and figure out how not to go over the budget. :)

oh yeah...edited to mention cereal since I see someone else talked about the cost of Chex. Yes, Chex is more expensive than the store brand "corn squares" or whatever they call them. But I discovered that Target's prices are less than my grocery store, and then I clip coupons. So I only buy it when I have a coupon and/or when it's on sale. Otherwise I eat hot cereal. Cream of Rice is not expensive, and grits are yummy and dirt cheap. And if you've never had grits now is the time to start! lol.. search this forum and find some grits threads. I'm a Yankee who has been converted. :lol:
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#8 GlutenFreeManna

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 08:36 AM

I use coupons, shop the sales and buy some things in Bulk at BJ's warehouse (sort of like a Sam's Club or Costco). I also don't buy too many gluten free specialty items. Most of my meals are things that are naturally gluten free without needing to use special flours or alter ingredients much. Pasta and bread are a once a month treat instead of being a cheap convience food for me like prior to gluten free.

For things like cereal I try to stock up when it goes on sale. Chex is hard--the best i have ever gotten it was $1 per box. I can usually get it for $1.50 per box with a sale and coupon. If you follow the sales at your local stores you will see they have sales cycles. Some things are based on the season:
Some examples of the top of my head:
1. cheese is always on deep sales with coupons during football season and close to the Super Bowl.
2. Corn tortillas will have coupons and sales closer to cinco de mayo.
3. Frozen foods (frozen plain veggies and frozen fruit) always go on sale big in March and sometimes into April (March is frozen food month) so I stock my freezer with frozen veggies as much as possible during March and April.
4. Ice Cream will be a big seller in the summer with sales and coupons.

Other things like meat have 3 week or 6 week sale cycles (at my stores your maybe different). One of my local stores puts cube steak on sale for B1G1 free every 3-4 weeks and they do fresh chicken breast sales of B1G2 Free every 5-6 weeks or so. I have a small chest freezer and I fill it up with fresh meat and frozen veggies whenever they are on sale. The object is to buy as much on sale whenever possible so you don't have to pay full price later on. I try to get just enough to last me untilt he next sale (1-2 months worth) so I don't have the same meat sitting in my freezer for long periods of time. Another stategy for buying meat is to look for markdowns and make friends with the butcher. If you shop late in the day and notice that there are large quantities of marked down meat (with sell-by date of that day) you could offer to buy all that is in the case if they take another 10-20% off. The worst they can say is no, but I have heard some people have good luck with this stategy. They want the meat sold and that gets rid of it all so they don't have to throw it out. You get to fill your freezer up in one trip. It's a win-win situation. :)

Another advantage of using coupons to save money is that saving on non-food items can free up money to use on more fresh produce and meat. Even people eating on very restricted diets need things like shampoo, deodorant, razors to shave with, paper towel, napkins, toilet bowl cleaner, toothpaste, tooth brushes, etc...I have gotten all of these things for free or very cheap (under $1) with coupons and sales. The majority of coupons are non-food coupons so there's planty of opportunites to save on non-food things. Saving money on those items can free up money in your budget to buy more produce.
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A simple meal with love is better than a feast where there is hatred. Proverbs 15:17 (CEV)

#9 lynnelise

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 09:21 AM

Not sure what locals stores are available in everyone's area but if you have a Kroger they label a lot of their foods gluten free and they have their brand of Chex that is really good. None of the yummy flavored ones though.

Cheap meals I eat a lot are:

Chicken legs with mashed potatoes or rice and veggies.
Bunless hot dogs w/ gluten-free baked beans.
Bunless burgers with oven baked fries.
Chili
Shepherd's Pie
Buritto bowls (rice, beans, meat, salsa, cheese, and so on. whatever toppings you prefer)
Grilled cheese made with corn tortillas and a gluten-free soup.
I use Udi's bread to make fried egg sandwiches. Serve w/ chips.
Breakfast for dinner. Omelettes, Frittatas, Quiches, scrambled eggs and bacon, etc.

In a lot of ways cooking gluten free is cheaper. I am eating things I used to cook anyhow but in the case of hot dogs or burgers I'm no longer buying buns! Also I save money because I don't try every new processed food that comes on the market.
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#10 ndw3363

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 09:27 AM

I think the reason that I am spending more on food is that I'm trying a lot of new recipes. I LOVE to cook (nowhere near gourmet, but I love a nice home cooked meal). What I am finding, is that a lot of my favorite things to eat, were already gluten free (or only had to alter one or two ingredients). My go to meal for leftovers...taco salad. Make it once and you have dinner for a week. I also only buy meat when it's on sale. I have all of my staple ingredients - then I just look for sale items. So even if I'm craving steaks on the grill, we won't get them unless they are on sale - we'll make burgers instead. It's annoying I know, but you just have to adjust your thinking. And try to stay away from all the "convenient" packaged gluten free stuff. It really won't make you feel any better. Best way to heal is to eat real food. I LIVE on frozen veggies and fruits (and I used to HATE veggies).

I went to a naturopathic doctor at one time and he had me spending over $200 every 3 weeks on supplements. I couldn't afford it - racked up thousands on my credit card. In time I realized I only need a handful to feel better. I still spend more than I would if I was eating pb&j or pasta every day....but I'm also healthier than most too.
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#11 aeraen

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 09:58 AM

Another "secret" on the chex cereal is that it always goes on sale before a holiday, because "chex mix" and "puppy chow" are such popular party snacks.

You can always find coupons and/or a sale before a holiday. The best, of course, is finding both at once. I tend to pay about $1.50 for Chex cereal on a regular basis, and buy multiple boxes to store in my basement storage room when I can get it lower.

By the way, for anyone who's children love "puppy chow" (also called muddy buddies on the Chex box), I once had the challenge of making them both gluten free AND peanut free. I replaced the peanut butter in the mix with honey and it worked out so well, my son (who is neither gluten nor peanut intolerant) preferred it to the original.
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#12 Christi1996

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 10:03 AM

Our grocery bill is higher but it is balanced out by not eating out very much at all. With our schedule now, it would be so much easier to swing by McD's or whatever 2-3 times a week (which would be between $40-$90 a week depending on which places we went). Now there are very few places that I feel safe eating (and honestly it angers me to pay $7 for a salad that I could make at home for $2). So we do go out to eat but not nearly as often.

Another thing that helps is planning meals instead of waiting until you are hungry for that nights meal to do the shopping.

I also don't buy junk food. No sodas, rarely chips, etc. I also cut out cereal because the kinds my kids could eat and wanted to eat were the nutritional equivalent of milk poured over sugar - and cost a fortune.

Pizza & mac and cheese are only occasional meals, not weekly. Spaghetti sauce is sometimes served over polenta (grits) instead of pasta (first time I did it my family was very skeptical but they decided they liked it - I did do cheese grits so that helped).

Oh, and those bread recipes that don't work are all saved in the freezer for bread crumbs. Sweet breads and cookies that crumble make great hot cereal toppings.

I do think that starting out it is much more expensive just because you are still in the gluten-filled mindset where all the favorite foods are gluten-filled. As that gets to no longer be the default setting, it gets much easier. Not to mention the expense of the frantic "I just want a sandwich" search for bread slows down.
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#13 JonnyD

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 10:34 AM

We got a rice cooker (~$15 @ Target) and now get the huge bags of rice. I also mix in beans towards the end of the cooking cycle. A huge batch will make several meals and is always ready in the fridge.
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#14 T.H.

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 11:16 AM

We honestly can't afford it, we are just making it every month, we don't have spare money for medical bills, we can't even afford to go watch movies or buy new clothes. :( I don't know what to do!



So sorry it's been so tough on you! And you definitely can make it cheaper, but it's unfortunately like a lot of things: it'll take more work. But it's absolutely do-able!

Firs, though, I'd second the question of supplements and such. Are there any probiotics mentioned? You may want to google: make your own probiotics. There are some very interesting ones out there that seem reasonable, and you can make yourself for little money.

For foods, I'd go very simple. Think this when you are trying to plan your grocery budgets: I am now living in the 1800's. What would I eat?


Did they buy spices at the store? Rarely, they usually had an herb garden instead. Just a couple packets of seeds that you put in the back yard could help. And herbs taste better when they're a bit stressed, so don't bother with expensive stuff like fertilizer and such. Although you could make your own compost from plant food leavings.

Did they buy pre-made foods? Rarely. They made their own breads, their own pastas, they bought veggies and fruits in season (farmer's markets are very good for this, and tend to be cheaper than the local grocery stores, if you check out what the smaller farms have to offer. I was spending $30 in a week on the same food that cost me $50-$80 a week at the store. I have to look up how to cook some of it, but it made a big budget difference.


We buy grain in bulk from a few sources on-line - Twin Valley Mills is a good one for sorghu, although you have to save up for it, as they sell it about 30Lbs. at a time. Rice is usually a bargain. See if you can find some ethnic markets near you. Mexican ones typically have good prices on corn based goods in bulk. Asian markets have good prices on rice based goods in bulk. Indian markets often have good prices on exotic spices in bulk, although I haven't checked these for gluten content, so you'd have to check that. Also on bean based flowers. African markets often have cheaper sweet potato flour in bulk.


Essentially, we look for everything in the most basic form, now, and get to forget that modern processing exists, for the most part. It's been very hard. And a lot of work. But I went from paying 3-4 times our normal grocery bill to paying about 2/3 of it. HUGE difference.

Oh, and eliminate dairy and eat more beans instead of meat and you'll see a big drop in grocery budget, too. :-)
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T.H.

Gluten free since August 10, 2009.
21 years with undiagnosed Celiac Disease

23 years with undiagnosed sulfite sensitivity

25 years with undiagnosed mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) 

 

Daughter: celiac and MCAD positive

Son: gluten intolerant
Father, brother: celiac positive


#15 BaldurBen

 
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Posted 04 April 2011 - 03:39 PM

I've gotten into the habit of checking RetailMeNot.com before buying anything. You can get printable coupons, or coupon codes for online shopping. If you use Twitter you can follow them there for the latest coupon news (@retailmenot).
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Baldur - gluten free since Nov. 2006.




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