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Regarding Groceries And $$....
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Our family of 4 is entirely gluten free. 3 of us are dx Celiac, my husband is I suspect intolerant, and also has high cholesterol, high blood pressure and ridiculously high triglycerides- so are options are limited to very healthy foods.

I don't do any packaged gluten-free foods, very few packaged foods at all actually, with the exception of gluten free bread, which here is about nearly $7 a loaf, and we go through about 2 loaves a week. I could save substantially by making my own, but the 4 attempts I have made were just lousy, and I have finally found Glutino Genius bread to be close to the real thing and actually normal sized, not like the itty bitty Udis loaves. I dont have alot of time to bake either, so that is not a likely occurence even if I could find an excellent recipe. We are all pretty sensitive to dairy, so we limit that to a bit of cheese now and then, and butter. I refuse to eat that chemical soup known as margarine!

We only drink water with meals (though I buy it bottled because we have well water and it is NASTY!) I do buy a gallon of coconut milk and a gallon of almond milk every week, which we use in the shakes and on oatmeal.

So, our meals are usually one night of fish (salmon or tilapia), one night a veggie frittata (we have chickens, so the eggs are plentiful) homemade pizza one night, a pasta dish (spaghetti, veggie lasagna, chicken cacciatore,etc) one night, beans and rice, one night something on the grill (hamburger,chicken, pork chops, etc)one night a vegetarian casserole or something of the sort. Most nights includes either a salad or a few veggies (usually asparagus and broccoli, or sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans or corn, fresh fruit for dessert.

I don't buy snack foods, but the kids scarf fruit- berries, apples, avocados, oranges, grapes, bananas and nuts in ridiculous quantities- you would think they were starving children!

Breakfast is either gluten-free oatmeal or nutritional shakes with amino acids. THOSE are expensive, (approximately $150 a month) but I don't even include them in my grocery bill because I consider them part of their vitamin intake, and because I also sell them and the amount I make in commissions covers most of the cost of the shakes.

Lunch is usually leftovers.

And I am BROKE. Our grocery bill is running $800 a MONTH- maybe more. What the heck am I doing wrong?

I know a garden would help, and I have in the past done the whole canning thing. But this year, I don't foresee having the time to anything beyond a few pots of tomatoes and lettuce maybe. I live in Iowa, so the growing season is short, and fresh produce is very seasonal and expensive as well.

Any suggestions to how to feed this starving brood without ending up penniless every month would be much appreciated!

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You're not doing anything wrong. Real food is expensive compared to processed junk.

Is there a membership club like Sam's or Costco in your area? You can save a lot of money buying groceries in bulk there. You might also see if there is any sort of vegetable co-op or community sponsored agriculture to get your seasonal veggies for less money.

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One thing I do to save money on grocery bills is to pretty much only buy what is on sale. If chicken legs are on sale, that is what we are having. If broccoli is on sale, that is our veggie. You get the idea. I plan my meals around sales and inexpensive meal plans. And I don't eat bread except as a very rare treat, I am too cheap to spend that much on it. I quickly learned to plan meals without it. Instead of sandwiches I have rice cakes with various toppings. Corn tortillas are very versatile. if you can invest in a good deep freeze then you can really find some great deals and stock up. Also, soups are a great way to save money, because you use less meat. just cut it in very small pieces and add lentils for protein. I have also found some inexpensive gluten free crackers.

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Sometimes you can find coupons for veggies/fruits. Maybe trying to find meat that's a manager special or trying a place like SAMs club.

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There are a few websites available where you can see what the Sunday coupons are. If there are ones you will use worth more than the cost of the paper, that's the time to head to the store and buy half a dozen newspapers. If someone can get to the stores in the morning, that's generally a great time to find things nearing their expiration date that have been marked down. I doubt though that either of those could save as much as buying in bulk. I pay half as much for my rice and beans by buying it in 20 pound bags when it's on sale. If you don't have a great availability of reasonably priced local produce it can be a whole lot cheaper to buy frozen veggies. Generally I eat what's on sale or what I have a coupon for and it saves me a ton.

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I don't think you are doing anything wrong. in today's world everything is expensive.. I feed between 4-8daily gluten free.. You have been given some good ideas already. We buy grass fed beef by the half,organic chicken,. Watch for sales in mainstream grocery where you can buy& then I do alot of online gluten-free shopping. There are some great deals online for gluten-free foods.

When it is a gluten-free product we use alot of I buy by cases.. Expensive up front but a real savings later...And we do have gluten-free junk /snack foods.Glutino gluten-free pretzels here in our town sells for about $9.39 a bag. With two teenagers one bag is inhaled in minutes...so I watch for sales online or in health shoppes & buy by the case for around $5.. a bag..If you have a Whole Foods they also give a 10% discount on top of the sale item...

We drive an hour each way to gluten-free shp so it doesn't happen often.

Your kids are healthier by eating the REAL foods over the junk ....children seem to be open pits, always hungry no matter what they just ate minutes before..

If you live where you can have a summer garden& fruit trees thatis another way to save....Freezing & canningfor the winter..It is becoming a lost art....

.

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It certainly isn't easy. For me it's a double whammy. On top of the fact that real food costs more, my dearest friend who knows money is always tight with me used to buy me a big lunch everyday that I could get two meals out of. I only had to feed myself on the weekends.

Now I'm on my own and broker than broke.

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Well, if you are looking to cut down food expenses stop buying salmon regularly. At least where I live salmon is almost 8$ a pound. Usually, there is some fish on sale so you could buy the less expensive fish and save money there. The same goes with the other meats and veggies that you buy go through the your grocery stores and buy what's on sale. If you varied your meals more you may find that you also save money. For example, if peppers and chicken breasts are on sale you could make a stir fry by adding some rice and some gluten-free teriaki or other sauce or seasonings of your choice. You can make a crock pot stew and extend the servings of that by serving it over rice. Buying in bulk then seperating out into usable portions can also reduce food costs. For example, if you buy chicken breasts at costco you can seperate them into meal size portions and freeze what you don't want to eat then.

You could extend the life of your children's snack foods by making them more filling. An apple isn't nearly as filling as an apple with 2T peanut butter for dipping. Also, you could figure out if they are eating because they are hungry or because they are bored. You may be able to change their snacking habits so they aren't hungry, but aren't wasting food by mindlessly eating it. For example, I LOVE raspberries, I got them out as a snack the other day and ended up eating the whole container sitting watching tv. I didn't need to eat them all and if I was really that hungry I could have made a better food choice. Your kids may be doing similar things especially if they are snacking on foods that aren't very filling like berries and grapes and taking the whole container to eat out of.

Not to sound harsh but, buying bottled water is about the worst solution out there. Bottled water is more expensive than other options and is bad for the environment(yes even if your recycle), isn't a better than filtering water at home since that's all bottled water is. If you do not like your well water what have you done to try to fix that problem? My house has a well when we first moved in the water filter needed to be changed so the water tasted bad and changing the filter made a huge difference and it's really easy. If that doesn't make a difference buy a brita or pur filter device and use that to filter your water. If filtering a second time doesn't improve your water then have it tested, your well may be contaminated in some way.

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Some good ideas, thank you! Unfortunately there is no Sam's Club or wholesale buying place within 2 hours. I wish there was! The suggestion of more stir fries and stews is a good one. I seem to forget that option! Prior to being gluten-free I wasn't much of a cook- everything came out of a box and was covered in cheese! So cooking REAL food is a new experience, and I do tend to get in a rut about what to make. There are a few dishes I am comfortable making and that I know everyone will eat and I don't stray from them much. But I do get bored with it! Sariesue, my DH happens to work as a water treatment specialist, and believe me, we have invested in expensive softeners and filtration systems. They make it possible to bathe at least! The water is super high iron content, and at this point the remaining options are just too cost prohibitive for us. I buy water by the gallon though, not individual bottle, if that makes you feel better about the enviromental impact! As for salmon, I buy it once a month when it comes on sale. Still not cheap, but as I am trying to find heart healthy, flavorful options that DH will actually EAT (he hates fish, but will eat tilapia and salmon) it seems woth it. I need to do more with the dried lentils- I confess I don't rreally know HOW! I have made bean soup, but it required 2 days of soaking the beans. Is there another way? Forgive my ignorance! And I have one kid who HATES rice...so I limit it to once or twice a week to avoid the drama. The snacking out of boredom may be a possibile issue I hadn't thought of. I do constantly find them carrying around a container of grapes or berries, munching! Perhaps I need to designate specific snack times and end this free-for all! I hate feeling like a food nazi though!

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Not sure if you have the option available, but it definitely cheaper to do the refillable water bottles. I know Wal-Mart has the water stations (at least all I've been to) and some grocery stores too. Usually somewhere in the back (Wal-Mart) or out front on the sidewalk (groceries back home in PA). I used to use these and bring 3 or 5 gallon refillable containers. It's a bit of an investment up front if you go through a lot of water, or you could just reuse some of those gallon containers you've been buying. Some places have filtered water and some spring water. I've also seen some stores sell 2 or 3 gallon bottles which are a bit cheaper than the gallons.

Admittedly, I am spoiled with my water. I grew up on a farm drinking the most amazing spring water. Now that I live in a city my options are bottled or that chemical stew they call water coming out of the faucet. It's not that I'm even worried about what's in it, it tastes nasty. I totally get just not being able to drink what's available. I'll either literally never drink water, or drink bottled spring water. I'm also comfortable with that choice. First, the company I buy from has taken amazing steps to reduce the amount of plastic they use and second, I recycle.

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Yeah, we do have the water bottle thing at Walmart- which is still a 30 min drive but since they are such big bottles, they would last. Not sure where I could store them though. I have the weirdest house ever for a floor plan, and little counter space! I will have to do some thinking on it! Thank you for the suggestion. I am also chuckling over your "chemical stew" remark. My hubs is the guy who "brews the stew" for the town and he gets SO put out about it when people comment on it. But I agree- I don't enjoy the fake chlorine taste either! You do NOT want to hear him rant about the evils of "bottled water"! Lol. I just ignore him and he has given up on me!

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    • I figured I would update those who were wondering.  I have gotten the appt. so far moved up to August 30. I am waiting to have gene testing done via swab for all 3 of my kiddos tomorrow. My daughters celiac antibodies came up negative but her IgA is low which the ped said could cause false negative antibodies for celiac so she will need to see a GI dr. also. The pediatrician is going to call the GI to try to get them in sooner. I am keeping them all on a gluten diet until the GI dr. decides what to do. I am on the cancellation list already for my son, however I am not going to be persistent with my phone calls to them until I have the results of the gene test. I really want that result in my hand before going to the GI dr if I can. Maybe if he is positive, along with his bloodwork and my history they can forgo the endoscopy. But he will eat gluten till then.  My husband and I have been very honest and upfront with him as to what is going on and the possibility of the endoscopy and what that entails and although scared in general he seems ok after assuring him that since I have it he has me to help him every step of the way.  Going through his current diet with him I realized that he is truly on such a low gluten diet that I am actually surprised his bloodwork shows antibodies at all!  So I told him to make a list of allllll the gluten he could possibly think of eating and he needs to pound it until the GI visit or endoscopy. Funny thing is everything he keeps thinking of to want to eat...is already gluten free!  The other night we were at a friends and he asked if he could be done with his hotdog. I made him finish just the bread 😂 Thanks for your help and advise and I will keep y'all posted on both kids!  My oldest is a ok as far as all his antibodies. Just actually had a follow up for other immune issues and all his levels are now normal!
    • I like your plan Cara, I may have to include it in my sons.    Poor little guy is still very very sick. I think he is resisting and cheating, despite having the support of two other siblings and a 100% gluten-free home. 
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    • Well, you can probably get an apple or something.  You might be able to get someone to boil you some eggs.  But be careful of things like nuts that should be naturally gluten free.  They have almost always been soaked in a flavor solution that usually containes caramel coloring, "soy" (wheat) sauce and other aditives.  If I am really hungry and must eat in a Chinese restaurant, I order plain white rice and steamed vegetables.  But even so, you must monitor it carefully.  The rice sometimes has other substances added to give it a better texture, and very often the vegetables have in fact had "just a little bit" of soy sauce added.  To be fair, celiac disease is hardly ever found in East Asians, so understandably people are not tuned it to it.  Also, culturally, with the exception of fruits, it is generally thought that the flavor of foods needs to be enhanced, so it is had to find anything natural even in the "western" gorceries. Even in the western restaurants, be careful.  Fish and meat and often vegetables are usually pre-marinated. I will not even attempt to address the issue of cross-comtamination, since that is a whole higher order of things. I do know what I am talking about; I have celiac and have worked here for nearly 7 years.  
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