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Gluten Free & On A Budget


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25 replies to this topic

#1 GFFAB

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 09:58 AM

I am newly gluten free and living in a sorority house. I am the only girl who cannot eat gluten and I have found it very difficult for others to understand what that means. As part of our house dues we pay for a food service and our cook has been very understanding but has made it clear that gluten-free foods tend to be much more expensive per meal than our budget allows. I'm am probably going to have to stick to things like microwaveable meals, snadwiches, etc. that are easily prepared outside of a kitchen so that I won't have to worry about my food being around everyone else's glutinous meals. What I am wondering is if anyone knows of any generic brands that are less expensive but still safe to eat - or any general advice to help make this transition easier.

Thanks!
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#2 Dwillis

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 10:26 AM

Hello been gluten free me and my 2 little ones for 5 years now give or take a month...I work 12 hour days at a steel mill..and I have to take alot food to sustain me the entire day and and that puts a drain on the fridge at home...so what I do is I stalk up on things I make in a hurry like gluten free chex cereal and...dried fruit is a big one... Let me do an inventory of my cupboard and I will get back to you... What state do you live in???
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#3 PainfulSpaghetti

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 01:12 PM

You can find rice cookers on the cheap! Huge bags of rice can be very cost effective, and you can make a meal with rice, and a few vegetables, small portions of fish or other lean proteins, etc. Many are just scared of the thought of cooking gluten free, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Vegetables, meats and rice are all gluten free, and much better for you than anything you will buy prepackaged, frozen, etc., as many of us cannot tolerate preservatives either.
You mentioned sandwiches, but gluten free bread is expensive. For that same amount you can purchase what you need to make a few meals, and your gut will thank you for it later!
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#4 sa1937

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 01:25 PM

I am newly gluten free and living in a sorority house. I am the only girl who cannot eat gluten and I have found it very difficult for others to understand what that means. As part of our house dues we pay for a food service and our cook has been very understanding but has made it clear that gluten-free foods tend to be much more expensive per meal than our budget allows. I'm am probably going to have to stick to things like microwaveable meals, snadwiches, etc. that are easily prepared outside of a kitchen so that I won't have to worry about my food being around everyone else's glutinous meals. What I am wondering is if anyone knows of any generic brands that are less expensive but still safe to eat - or any general advice to help make this transition easier.

Thanks!

Welcome! Basically I think you're going to have to read a lot of labels if you're looking for gluten-free processed foods (usually not very cheap). And of course, there are a lot of naturally gluten-free foods...veggies, fruits, meats, eggs, etc. and that makes shopping so much easier. You might also want to use the google button in the top right hand corner and search for cheap meals or budget meals to get some ideas. There have been some recent threads on this subject.
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#5 allergyprone

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 08:46 AM

i am a freshman in college and have pretty much given up completely on food service some of the cheap foods that i eat are kellogs now has some gluten-free cerials and cerial bars also oridas potatos and if you order your breads online they can be alot cheaper than buying them in a store you can stock up and ask if they can store them in their freezer most store meats are gluten free and can be cheap i also use a rice cooker and a slow cooker so i can prepare it in the morning and practicly forgeet about it until dinner you can get rice cookers and slow cookers cheap. i hope this helps you some
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#6 mistin

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 07:27 AM

Sam mills pasta d'oro is really cheap good corn pasta. You can get it at Big Lots, if you have big lots in your area, or order it online. You may want to talk your cook into using gluten free bisquick for breakfast foods and whatever else you use bisquick for, fried chicken and whatnot. It's only slightly more expensive than normal bisquick, and I think it tastes better anyway. I'm not sure how much you can cook for yourself in this situation, but if you get a chance to, just stir fry a crapload of veggies and meat, or meat substitute, and keep that in a tupperware container. It takes about 20 minutes to turn $20 worth of fresh veggies into food for a good number of days, and you can pour that stir fry over rice for dinner, or wrap it up in a gluten free wrap and take it to class for lunch. In a pinch, if you're a beef jerkey kind of gal, beef jerkey is a relatively inexpensive source of quick protein and makes a good lunch with some cheese and chips. Don't shy away from being that girl that eats snow peas instead of doritos. Basically, fresh vegetables are your friends. They are good, nutritious, and pretty univerally gluten free.
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#7 Skylark

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:33 AM

You need to make it clear to the cook that you can eat rice and baked potatoes instead of expensive specialty breads and pastas. You might offer to buy a rice cooker for the sorority kitchen to make it super-easy for them to have rice for you. All fresh fruits and vegetables can be prepared gluten-free very easily, as can meats. Commercial gluten free breads are fairly expensive so you may have to mail-order those and put them in the freezer if you want toast in the morning or the occasional sandwich. Remind your chef that we can eat things like tuna salad, hard boiled eggs, cheese and most lunchmeats. They might be able to make something like a chef salad instead of sandwiches at lunch.

I have a mini rice cooker that I absolutely love. You might want to get one for your room if it's allowed. As far as mainstream brands, Progresso has a few gluten free soups (clearly marked on the can), some Hormel canned chilis are gluten-free, and Dinty Moore chicken and beef stews are gluten-free. Here's the Hormel list.
http://www.hormelfoo...ee/default.aspx

For cereals Rice Chex, the new gluten-free Rice Krispies, or Cream of Rice are about the only mainstream ones I can think of. If you like sweet cereals, I think Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles have gone gluten-free.

I haven't had much luck with frozen foods. I don't trust Amy's because of the shared production lines and it's a fairly expensive brand. Mainstream brands like Swanson and Healthy Choice seem to have a million ingredients and almost always something with gluten.
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#8 adez10

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:21 PM

I am new to the gluten free diet and found out I had to go gluten free the day before I left for college, so I have been having the same problems as you. What I found that works for me in between classes are protein and granola bars. I like lara, think thin, and kind plus. They are all gluten free and even though they can be a little pricey they are quick and easy when I am in a hurry. You could also try protein smoothies, which are easy to make and very filling! I would also love tips on this subject as the college ramen noodle diet does not work for me now...
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#9 GlutenFreeManna

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:56 PM

I would also love tips on this subject as the college ramen noodle diet does not work for me now...


Instead of ramen buy rice noodles or just rice. Rice noodles at an Asian market are cheaper than gluten-free specialty pasta and are made in a similar way to Raman--just a pot of hot water for a few minutes and they are done. Add a bag of frozen steamer veggies and some meat or beans or egg and you have a complete meal. If you used to eat raman as a noodle soup get some gluten-free boullion cubes and disolve them in the water with the rice noodles. The previous posters suggestion of a rice cooker is also a great idea. A huge bag of rice may be expensive up front but each serving is cheap and the bag will last you a while. Potaoes are also fairly cheap and easy to make--baked potato in the microwave. Rice cakes are decently priced too--much cheaper than gluten-free bread anyway.
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#10 wheeleezdryver

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 05:33 PM

In a pinch, if you're a beef jerkey kind of gal, beef jerkey is a relatively inexpensive source of quick protein and makes a good lunch with some cheese and chips.


Just make sure the beef jerky is gluten free... many times, especially with teriyaki flavored beef jerky, it's not (has soy sauce added, which usually has wheat in it)
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#11 Skylark

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 10:48 AM

The mini rice cooker I got is the Panasonic SR-3NA Rice Cooker. It's available at Amazon and probably other places. I'd link but Amazon links are not allowed. I love it because it will cook a serving or two of rice and it's faster than my big cooker. It would be a good size for a dorm room.

As far as ramen, Safeway brand has instant rice noodle bowls that go on sale for $1 sometimes. Thai Kitchen brand has a lot of instant gluten-free rice noodles, both packages and in bowls. Other stuff I used to keep around the dorm was Kraft Easy Cheese (the canned stuff you don't have to refrigerate), crackers, jerky, peanut butter, and apples because they kept pretty well without refrigeration.

Larabars and whatnot are really nice, but you can save a ton of money buying containers of nuts and dried fruit and making trail mix to snack on. Peanuts and raisins are cheapest, then add other nuts and fruits or maybe chocolate chips so you get a little variety. Make up a bunch of baggies ahead of time and they're as convenient as a Larabar or Kind bar.
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#12 lizatmnsu

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:25 PM

I found out I was gluten intolerant just over a year ago, and that meant a huge change as I was going into my junior year in college. Obviously, as everyone has already said, rice and rice noodles are an easy and cheap way to go. I also order nonuttin' granola bars online that are gluten free and although a little pricey I think they are worth it with my busy schedule I can eat one of those in place of a meal if I have to. I also keep La Choy soy sauce and teriyaki in my room as those are also gluten free. Rice Crispies is my go to breakfast cereal, and then I spoil myself with goodies when my college budget can afford it. It is good to keep butter, the soy/teriyaki, and gluten free boullion on hand so that you can change up the style and flavor of the rice. This way although you might eat a lot of rice, it also doesn't need to get boring. Adding different veggies is a great way to change up the flavor dynamic too. Finally for a bunch of other great ideas I would reccomend the cook book "Gluten Free on a Shoestring". Hope that helps.
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#13 Di2011

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 03:30 AM

I found out I was gluten intolerant just over a year ago, and that meant a huge change as I was going into my junior year in college. Obviously, as everyone has already said, rice and rice noodles are an easy and cheap way to go. I also order nonuttin' granola bars online that are gluten free and although a little pricey I think they are worth it with my busy schedule I can eat one of those in place of a meal if I have to. I also keep La Choy soy sauce and teriyaki in my room as those are also gluten free. Rice Crispies is my go to breakfast cereal, and then I spoil myself with goodies when my college budget can afford it. It is good to keep butter, the soy/teriyaki, and gluten free boullion on hand so that you can change up the style and flavor of the rice. This way although you might eat a lot of rice, it also doesn't need to get boring. Adding different veggies is a great way to change up the flavor dynamic too. Finally for a bunch of other great ideas I would reccomend the cook book "Gluten Free on a Shoestring". Hope that helps.

This guy/girl has the way to go .. I"m not in you age bracket but being a single mum came to this thread to learn of some cost savings..
I try to go "bulk"
I've always been a big "Asian" eater so be VERY careful of the soy/oyster etc etc etc sauces... all usuals have gluten in one form of another... go to your china town or equivelant and ask what they have. Its been a $ drain initially but worth it for something to eat and now I use as required/sparingly. Saved my money in the end.
Meat, veg, fruit... suprising how a few weeks can make you feel okay
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#14 jane reid

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 09:58 AM

Hi everyone. I just got out of college, and in my sophomore year I found out I had celiacís disease. I come from a family of cooks, so it didnít take me long to figure out what I needed to eat well while going to class that I could make fast and easy. I donít believe on eating things because they are easy, I believe in eating the things that make you feel good and are tasty. Luckily, I had access to a kitchen, and I was able to cook for myself. Here is what I would do if I had to do it over in a dorm room on a budget.

1) Find out what equipment you are allowed to have in your room. Normally you can only negotiate a mini fridge and some sort of microwave. If you explain the situation and point out that you need special accommodations because of your health issues, you may be able to negotiate getting a toaster oven. The minimum I would need is a mini-fridge and a convection/microwave oven (I promise the convection part will save your budget, see if you can get your parents to buy it for you), and a rice cooker. I have seen people on this post recommending a single person sized rice cooker, and those are great as a start, but a normal full-sized or 75% of full sized one gives you more options. A regular sized rice cooker will give you enough space to have some veggies and meat tossed in with the rice to cook (which will save tons of time and dishes). If you can get it, get yourself a toaster oven.

2) Talk with the chef. They may not fully understand what you can and cannot eat, and simple changes they make in the kitchen could allow you to eat with everyone else. Make sure they understand what gluten is in (including its more obscure forms like MSG) and point out likely sources. For example: ground beef is naturally gluten free, but that packet of taco seasoning probably isnít. You could ask them to remove some of the meat before adding the seasoning so you can have some, or have them not use a mix and add the individual spices. Then you get to eat with everyone else.

3) Bulk buys of gluten free oats and rice (try to go wild or brown, but basmati and white work as well) are your best friends. A large bag of gluten free oats will last a long time and keep you full. If you have the convection part of the microwave, you can use those oats to make granola bars. That one bag of oats, plus nuts (of your choice), dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips will cost less than $10 and will make over 50 granola bars. Make them in large batches, and keep them in the fridge/ freezer. In that regular sized rice cooker, you can combine chocolate, peanut butter, and oats to make no-bake chocolate fudge protein cookies. If you do it right, those cookies have all the vitamins and minerals as a protein/ granola bar. 4 of them constitute lunch in a pinch, and they taste like a fudge brownie. Rice will always be your friend.

4) Rice cakes are your next best friend. Stock up on Quaker Oats gluten-free Unsalted Rice Cakes, and the possibilities from there are endless. If you were able to negotiate for the toaster oven, you can make any type of open faced sandwich into a melt. Think tuna melt, melted peanut butter sandwich, and mini-pizzas. You can do this if your microwave can be a convection oven as well, but it takes longer and is more hit-and-miss.

5) Always keep a jar of Prego on hand. The sauce is delicious, makes great pizza, pasta, meatball sandwiches (which you can make in the microwave or rice cooker), and chili. Remember: that rice cooker is just a crock pot on a timeróuse it as both.

6) Rice paper and corn tortillas will take anything you made for dinner last night and turn it into a wrap for lunch.

7) Gluten free quick oats and flax seed can make for a speedy breakfast or lunch. Glutenfreeda makes instant oatmeal in a variety of flavors and is cheap if you order in bulk online. Consider adding flax seeds in most things you eat. It is a flavor booster and can help getting your digestive tract back online.

8) Fresh/ frozen veggies and fruit should always be kept on hand. They can be a quick dinner or lunch by themselves, or they can kick up the flavor of whatever you make for dinner.

9) If you got the convection microwave oven, you could make your own bread using gluten free flours bought in bulk. Either create your own mix, or use a pre-mixed bag (my favorite is Juleís gluten free flour mix, it comes in a white 5-lb bag). Store bought gluten free bread is expensive and really disgusting. I have yet to see a store bought loaf of gluten free bread that was either better suited for masonry or tasted waxy and fell apart at the slightest breeze.

10) Major brands that strive to be gluten free are always good. Some of my favorites are Bushís baked beans or chili beans, UTZ chips (except for sour cream and onion, most are gluten free), and Chex. One of the best things about gluten free cereals is you can crush them up and use them as breading or in granola bars.

11) Protein: eggs, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, etc are always handy to have around and can be gotten on the cheap.
Cooking and living gluten free on a budget is easy if you have the right equipment and some ingenuity.

Stop looking at how things were intended to be used, and start looking at how the tools you have can be stretched. Use your rice cooker as a crock pot, bread things with chex and spices, and make a grilled cheese out of tortillas or gluten free pancakes or waffles. If you can get away with it, you could get a mini grill with the different plates and use it to make waffles, etc using a gluten free flour mix. If that doesnít work, use your rice cooker as a griddle (it works, trust me) and make pancakes in it to use for sandwiches. Take a few pancakes and layer them with frosting and marshmallow fluff and you have some of those hostis-style cakes for snacks. And who says you cant have chocolate pancakes for desert, and make veggie-egg pancakes for breakfast? Play with it. You never know what you could stumble upon.
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#15 kareng

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 10:37 AM

Just to clarify:

MSG does not contain gluten. The "G" is glutamate which sounds like gluten but it's not. Many people prefer to avoid MSG because they feel it isn't healthy or have a reaction to it other than gluten.
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