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Need To Eat Gluten Free But Cant Afford It

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:49 PM

I was diagnosed with celiac disease and crohns disease after having my daughter and lately i was doubting my diagnosis, but my dr reaffirmed that i will get cancer and die if i dont stick to it. (Hes a little blunt and can be too direct at times). But anyways, my husband and I are pretty strapped for cash lately, his job is laying off 2000 people and might close permanatly, and unemployment is barely paying our rent alone. I cannot afford $6 loaves of gluten free bread, and $8 for 2 pizza crusts. I really am on a top raman noodle budget right now. Even fruits would be a luxury to buy right now. What can I do?? My husband and daughter do not need to eat gluten free, but just buying gluten-free for me is too much money that we dont have. Any suggestions??
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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:02 PM

Cook meals that are naturally gluten free. It may not be your favorite but beans and rice are inexpensive and filling. Veggie soup and corn tortillas is inexpensive also.

Buy from a CSA or farmer's market. Foods there are usually cheaper than stores.

Make your own bread/pizza crust. I've just started grinding my own rice to make flour and I like it. You don't have to start out with a fancy electric grinder either. You can buy a manual for next to nothing.
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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:19 PM

There are lots of inexpensive meals that are gluten free, you just have to change your way of thinking. It takes a bit of adjustment but it gets easier. One great inexpensive meal is homemade chicken and rice soup with veggies like onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, these area all inexpensive and are great in soup. Corn tortillas are a great inexpensive addition to your staples. You can make tacos and enchiladas, even tostadas very inexpensively. I have had one loaf of gluten free bread in a little over a year since I have been gluten free-I am on a budget too and at first I didn't know what to eat but now it is second nature. My son is not gluten free so I buy him bread for sandwiches, plus waffles and other things, but I just carefully segregate things in the kitchen.
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:27 AM

You could use the google button on the top right corner of your screen and do a search for cheap meals, budget meals, etc. We've actually had quite a few discussions on this topic and hopefully you'll come up with lots of ideas.
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:56 AM

I have been broke for years -- I don't eat bread and pizza. Buy frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, bulk meat and dairy. It can be done. I fed myself on 40/week, and I ate well. If you want to bake some things, scrape and save, and then buy a bag of mixed flours or almond flour (healthier choice, IMHO). There is no such thing as "can't." You need to be resourceful. Use coupons. Make connections in your community. It's a family change, not just for you. Think of it this way: if you have it, your daughter probably will to. So imagine it's she who has the confirmed diagnosis. Would you say you couldn't do it then? Of course not. So be willing to do it for yourself, just as you would her. You can do this. I have.
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:29 AM

Great advice so far.

Last night we (2) had salad (bagged, on sale ~$0.50) with tomatoes (on sale ~$0.50), mushrooms (on sale ~$2.00), avocados (on sale ~$1.25), dressing (on sale ~$0.20) and rice (on sale ~$0.50) with cilantro (on sale ~$0.10), stems from the salad mushrooms, and chicken thighs (on sale ~$0.75). The mushrooms were the most expensive part, and I got them as a splurge. We ate the salad first, and I have some chicken and rice left over. :)

For brekkie will probably have a scrambled egg dish. Onion (~$0.25), potato (~$0.35), red bell pepper (~$0.99), tomato (~$0.50), eggs (I have chickens, but eggs are cheap). This is usually filling enough to count as lunch, too. May supplement with bananas (on sale).
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:51 AM

Here's a topic on this very thing from 2 days ago with some links to other budget discussions.


It may have to be a new way of eating for everyone in the family. Sounds like, even if gluten-free wasn't an issue, you would still have an extremely tight food budget. No more chips, bottled juices, etc.

Rice, beans and some corn is an easy & cheap meal (and one of my 16 years olds favorites). Add meat or cheese if you have any. Potatoes are cheap and versitile. Frozen juice concentrate and veggies go on sale often.

I don't know where you live so this might not apply. Do your neighbors have gardens? They will always have too many zuchhini that you can freeze and add to the beans and rice. I just got a bunch of blueberries from my SIL who just bought a house with 15 huge bushes, Neighbors are coming over to pick some. Maybe a neighbor with a big garden that could use some help in exchange for some veggies?

Food pantries won't necessarily have gluten-free bread but they have many gluten-free things like Peanut butter, veggies, pasta sauce (good over rice).

Many groceries & Walmart have a discounted food area. Stuff that's at its expiration date. Most stuff is good for days after or you could freeze it or use it tonight.
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 07:36 AM

All great advice. Also, if you aren't keen on cooking a crock pot could save your sanity -- I bought mine at Target for $15 (on sale) and it is in use several times a week. Cheaper cuts of meat do really well in a crock pot and if you need recipes go to http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ One of the blogger's daughters has Celiac Disease so all recipes are gluten-free. She's not big on spending a lot of time prepping meals so most of the recipes are the "dump in the pot, turn it on and forget about it until it is time to eat" kind.
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:02 AM

We make chili dogs.

Ground turkey is good(not ground turkey breast) and makes great tacos if you add the taco seasoning packets.

Or you can make spaghetti with the ground turkey and just add Bertolli spaghetti sauce with Quinoa spaghetti noodles. You can't tell it's gluten-free.

We also make a lot of fajitas with corn tortilla and chicken (occasionally steak) Pick up an iron pan at Target and it's great to cook the meat on. Sautee some onions, red peppers, add cheese and tomatoes and that makes a great dish.

Udi's wheat bread is good for grilled cheese and toast. I haven't made a sandwich yet. Sorry I know this is expensive but if you are forced to buy a few gluten-free items this is a good one as well as the spaghetti.

I don't buy much gluten-free foods bc they don't taste that great.

Good luck!
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:19 AM

You can do it! If you have a Publix near you, right now (at least in our area) they have gluten free Progresso Soups for 4 for $6. When you walk in the door, they have hanging coupons. There is a $1 off of one. So you will get them for about .50 this week. (Chicken Enchilada is yummy with corn chips) They also have B1G1 free gluten free Rice Krispies. You don't have to buy 2. You can get one for half price. Cereal is always a cheap breakfast. Soup for lunch. And the other poster's recommendation for the crock-pot blog has been a lifesaver! Love that site.
Here is a link for all the Publix gluten free sales this week. The red is coupons and some you can print online. Again...not sure if it is just our area or not. I love when someone else figures it out for you!
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:50 AM

I was diagnosed with celiac disease and crohns disease after having my daughter and lately i was doubting my diagnosis, but my dr reaffirmed that i will get cancer and die if i dont stick to it. (Hes a little blunt and can be too direct at times). But anyways, my husband and I are pretty strapped for cash lately, his job is laying off 2000 people and might close permanatly, and unemployment is barely paying our rent alone. I cannot afford $6 loaves of gluten free bread, and $8 for 2 pizza crusts. I really am on a top raman noodle budget right now. Even fruits would be a luxury to buy right now. What can I do?? My husband and daughter do not need to eat gluten free, but just buying gluten-free for me is too much money that we dont have. Any suggestions??

As others said, simple foods are best. It may not be perfect, but it works. I've been in the situation of having to "make do" with what we could afford when my husband was unemployed for almost a year.

Rather than trying to replace the gluten foods like bread and pizza, you might have to eat really different. And maybe your family could eat without gluten as well just to keep everyone eating the same thing. It is really expensive if you are trying to cook separately for the "glutens" and "non-glutens".

For sandwiches, you can make your own stuff really easy...we do a sort of "pancake" that was designed for the specific carbohydrate diet, but my family has accepted it very well...here is the recipe. They are not just gluten-free, they are grain free which might be helpful if you do have Crohn's.

Actually, hunt around the No More Crohn's site. They have LOTS of ideas that wouldn't be too expensive.

Does your family like meatloaf? Just make your favorite recipe but leave out the bread crumbs. Don't even try to substitute, but maybe add a little extra egg.

Also, you can make "sandwich wrap" crepes that you use like tortillas, you just roll up sandwich fillings inside or whatever you want...use them for burritos too...first, you will need a good, all-purpose flour mix to bake with. Recipes abound all over the internet, just poke around a little and you can find them. Look for the simpler ones...there are some good ones based on three basic starches, like rice flour/tapioca flour/potato starch. Those are our favorite three for a lot of our baking.

A sample flour mix recipe from "Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking", by Kelli and Peter Bronski:

1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour (you could substitute a bean flour...garbanzo for example)
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour, they are NOT interchangeable!)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon potato flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (you can use guar gum here...some are sensitive to xanthan)

Another mix HERE, and HERE just for you to check out. Some of the recipes you already use can be made successfully with these flours, you'll just have to try them out.

You didn't say whether you use more of the prepared convenience-type foods, or whether you do more cooking from scratch. It will take a little more time investment, but you will save some $$$ making your own.

Do you have space for a garden? We use a lot of spaghetti squash to substitute for pasta, we have three plants going now in the backyard so we don't have to pay a lot for them. Gluten-free pasta is expensive, the squash serves more for the money around here.
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1999 - Hypothyroid
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2009 - Significant Vit D Deficiency
2011 - Diverticulitis again
2011 - HLA-DQ2.2
2012 - TtG IgG positive... I am now, finally, Gluten Free - 5/16/2012



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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:11 AM

(so spaghetti squash is called that for a reason, eh?)

As the other posters have said, eating gluten free isn't just substituting the foods we normally eat, it's changing your diet and lifestyle completely. You cook from scratch more, eat pre-prepared food less, and only get good gluten-free items as occasional treats.
Buy foods that are naturally gluten-free, get them in bulk, on sale, anywhere you can. Rice is your best friend (I am a giant piece of rice!), so find the cheapest place you can get it. Don't just look at the chain grocery stores. Chinese/Asian markets are great if you have any, for rice, noodles, veggies, etc for often cheaper than the supermarket. If you do make/buy gluten-free bread, stick it in the freezer and have it on occasion (all my bread goes straight in the freezer and reemerges as toast). Maybe invest in a bread maker. I know if you have crohn's, potatoes and corn will become your staples. You can make your own tortillas from corn meal/flour.
Start a garden, if you don't have one, if just for things like herbs and lettuce (that can be grown inside if you want).

In any case, it takes time, and learning, and patience, and a lot of "do I really need that", but you'll get used to it, and come to like new things, and when you do get that piece of gluten-free chocolate cake on occasion, it'll taste all the better.

Good luck and take care
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~ Be a light unto yourself. ~ - The Buddha

- Gluten-free since March 2009 (not officially diagnosed, but most likely Celiac). Symptoms have greatly improved or disappeared since.
- Soy intolerant. Dairy free (likely casein intolerant). Problems with eggs, quinoa, brown rice

- mild gastritis seen on endoscopy Oct 2012. Not sure if healed or not.
- Family members with Celiac: Mother, sister, aunt on mother's side, aunt and uncle on father's side, more being diagnosed every year.



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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:17 AM

I try to stay away from prepared foods, but in a crunch, Zatarain's now offers gluten-free varieties. Extend one box by adding meat, beans, onions, and any other vegetable. Look for sales. They usually go on sale for 1.00-1.25 a box. One box prepared w/ fillers would be more than enough to feed a family of three.

Hope I helped, Laura :)
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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:37 PM

Someone already posted above but Stephanie writes the blog "A Year of Slow Cooking" http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ (Don't go to the 365daysofcrockpot site...she's not gluten-free and is not as good - Stephanie is the original.) As mentioned, Stephanie's daughter is celiac and her recipes are good and easy, especially for busy moms (and dads). She has a section on saving money, but the main thing about her food is that most of it is not just for celiacs, it's food anyone would eat. Chili, soups, curries, pot roasts.

The bad thing is that to save money, you'll have to cook a lot more than you would normally. The upside is that you and your family may eat healthier. Focus on naturally gluten-free food - rice, potatoes, meat, fish, chicken. Beans can be made from dried beans much cheaper than canned. Make your own spagetti sauce at 1/10th the price. Heck, you can even make yogurt if your family likes that at 1/20th the cost.

Then learn to bake later if you want real bread but don't want to pay $8/loaf. Maybe start making flourless PB cookies or corn bread or waffles and pancakes. (Ask if you want recepies.) Then learn to make bread.

You can do this!
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Diagnosed by biopsy 2/12/07. Negative blood tests. Gluten-free (except for accidents) since 2/15/07. DQ2.5 (HLA DQA1*05:DQB1*0201)

Son, age 18, previously delayed growth 3rd percentile weight, 25th percentile height (5'3" at age 15). Negative blood work. Endoscopy declined. Enterolab positive 3/12/08. Gene results: HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1 0201 HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2 0503 Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ 2,1(Subtype 2,5) Went gluten-free, casein-free 3/15/08. Now 6'2" (Over six feet!) and doing great.

"Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance." Abigail Adams (1744-1818) 2nd First Lady of the United States



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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:26 PM

Love this thread! I was in the same train of thought a couple days ago! I didnt realize so many foods I was already eating were gluten free!! (chicken, baked potatos, frozen veggies) and thats just a few! I am also on a VERY tight food income! Im currently not working do to the debilitating brain fog I have so I have zero other income! I was also very surprised alot of other snack foods I eat were gluten-free as well, potato chips, popcorn, apples with peanut butter! I eventually want to cut out all processed food and eat organic but that is not in my budget right now. I am praying that going gluten-free alone will let me get my life back and get rid of this brain fog and than I will be able ot work again and eventually better my diet even more. Im taking it day by day! All i can do is TRY!! :) You got this! :)
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