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I'm to the point that I'm ready to start stocking my pantry with things. I'm not real sure about conversions so are there a couple of AP gluten-free flours that are good and where is the cheapest place to get them.

Just in general what are the basics that are good to have. My meals have been a bit repeditive but if I could get some quick and easy recipes that would be awesome. I also have a crock pot and am not afraid to use it.

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I suppose it depends on what types of food you want to make. When my daughter was first diagnosed, I bought every cookbook I could find. I flipped through the recipes and any listed ingredient I saw was purchased. I had all sorts of flour and most of them were never used. I bought big containers to make up two different kinds of gluten free flour mixes. And much of what I made didn't work very well at all. I should say that daughter isn't celiac but has food allergies and some in addition to wheat and gluten. So I have to make a lot of substitutions when I bake. Because of this, things don't always go well.

Eventually my flour spoiled and I threw it all out. Now I've paired it down a lot and the only flours I keep in the house all the time are a four flour blend that I buy already made up, brown rice flour, white rice flour and sweet rice flour. These are enough for most any recipe. I also keep some cornstarch. I recently bought chickpea flour for a specific recipe. And some mesquite flour to try to recreate something I bought at the health food store. And I have a bag of coconut flour that I used to make meatballs.

My local health food store is run by a celiac so they stock a lot of gluten free things. They are the cheapest source around so much of what I buy is bought from them. I do occasionally make trips to Manna Mills in Mountlake Terrace, WA. That's where I usually buy my four flour blend. I occasionally buy things online. Not necessarily the cheapest place but I can get things online that I can't get elsewhere.

I like the Namaste mixes. I use them if I need a cake, brownies, pizza crust, etc. I've pretty much given up on bread except for zucchini bread. I got the recipe from this website. I generally only make that if I get zucchini in my organic produce box. Other than that, cookies, pastry, bread, etc. are usually bought already made up. Might be a little more expensive that way but at least I know they'll get eaten.

I've taken to buying 2 slice packages of bread from Ener-G. My daughter is the only one in the house who eats this bread. Although it seems expensive for 2 slices of bread, I find it works out much better for us. When I buy a loaf of the Ener-G bread, I might use only 2 or 4 slices of it before it goes bad. And then I have to throw the rest away. She likes some bread that comes frozen. It's a fruit and nut bread. But I have problems with it. For one thing, the slices stick together and often much of the loaf is wasted because I can't get the slices apart without crumbling. When I do buy this type of bread, I thaw it out, repack it in 2 slice portions, put them back in the bag and then back in the freezer. That way I can use just what I need. I do occasionally buy hotdog or hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls, etc. But there again, I find I am usually throwing some of them out. Such a waste! I wish they would sell them packed as single items.

For pasta, we like Tinkyada or some of the corn pasta. If it were up to me, I would buy whatever kind/shape was the cheapest unless I needed something specific for a recipe. But daughter is very picky about her pasta so I let her choose the kind she wants. Macaroni is usually the cheapest of the shapes. For a super quick meal, I simply heat up some tomato sauce with herbs and onions and some nutritional yeast for protein and a cheesy flavor. We have a dairy allergy. If I have a little more time, I might cook some ground beef then add a can of corn and some canned tomatoes or tomato sauce to the pasta. Tuna casserole is another favorite. I had to come up with something other than condensed soup though for the sauce. I put some mushrooms and celery in the food processor along with an onion and chop it all up really fine. Then I cook this in some light olive oil until soft. I add a bit of sweet rice flour for thickening and a little bit of rice milk. If you don't have the dairy allergy, you could use real milk or cream and even some shredded cheese. I then take this mixture and mix it with some tuna, frozen peas, pasta, and bake. Just before it is done, I top it with some wavy potato chips. You can also use cooked chicken in this instead of tuna.

We also eat a lot of rice and beans. I buy rice in fairly large bags. Dried beans are the cheapest to use, but canned beans are quicker to fix. One day I might make chicken and rice. Another day I might make Spanish rice with hamburger and some kidney beans mixed in.

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The main staples you will want are several different types of rice and a good quality all purpose gluten-free flour, then lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The more you stick to fresh foods, the healthier you will feel. I like to use the Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose gluten-free flour blend for all my baking. I substitute it in most all of my old recipes. Try different kinds of rice, such as Jamine, Basmati, medium grain, or Aborio (risotto). Be creative. You can add almost any protein (chicken, fish, meat) plus some vegetables and come up with whatever fits your taste. Try cooking the rice with chicken broth instead of water. Or use 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 coconut milk for a tropical flavor. I do this and add chopped spinach and some sauteed onions. Great with some broiled salmon. Get a bottle of San-J Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce. You can use this to add flavor, and also use it for a marinade for fish. I also marinate chicken wings in the Tamari Sauce with alittle garlic, then coat with cornstarch, and quick fry for a chinese type wing dish. I like the Namaste mixes. The Spice Cake is really great. I add grated carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins to make a carrot cake out of it. This is also good for breakfast if you don't frost it. Pamela's is the best Baking & Pancake Mix. It makes great waffles. Add blueberries and/or pecans, or bananas for variety. You can make these up and wrap individually for the freezer. Quinoa is also something that you might want to learn to cook with. It is very versatile. Most of the mixes need something extra added to keep them interesting and also to keep them from being too dry. I stay away from the prepared breads except for the Prairie Bread or the Raisin Bread or the Sun-Dried Tomato from the Gluten Free Bakery at Whole Foods. Corn tortillas or lettuce leaves make great sandwiches. Have fun experimenting with new things.

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The Asian markets/stores are probably the best place to get some of your flours. I got white rice flour and sweet rice flour (also called glutinous flour - don't let the name scare you, it's OK) for 69 cents/pound. I also found corn flour there and had not found it anyplace else.

I do a fair amount of baking/cooking WITHOUT the mixes and the flours that I use the most are white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch flour, and corn flour and I also have xanthum gum. I keep everything in a bin in the fridge because (from what I hear), they tend to get buggy in your pantry. I have a lot of other flours that I experiment with (or at least have plans for) but I wouldn't buy anything else unless you have specific plans for them. The Corn flour may fit that catagory, too, but I use that when I make fried foods (fried chicken, corn dogs for the kids, etc)

If you are not much of a baker/cook, I would probably stick with the prepackaged mixes. Off the shelf, they are more expensive, but would take up a lot less space and cause a lot less waste and may save you money in the long run.

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