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erinmomof2

Need Help Shopping Gluten Free On A Budget

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This is my first post to these boards, so sorry if this in the wrong place :)

My 2 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She started the gluten free diet this week. My husband and I are having the hardest time finding gluten free food that 1)she actually likes and 2)is budget friendly. Our grocery bill tripled this week and we didn't buy that much. I'm trying to push fresh fruit for snacks and meat and veggies for dinner. But she's 2 and she wants her favorites (mostly bread). I've bought a couple different types of gluten free bread and so far she hates them. I'm not really a baker (I burn EVERY baked good I've tried) so I'm not sure about baking my own. She is also missing cookies, I did buy a brand of fake gluten free oreos and they are okay but she'll only eat them sometimes. Any tips on brands, items to try? Also is there a way to find coupons for gluten free things?

This is all a little overwhelming, and while I'm sure it will get easier as we get accustomed to the new diet, it's still new and stressful. I'm not really sure where to start. If it helps the stores that are closest to us are Meijer, Kroger, and Walmart. My husband works near a Trader Joes and the nearest Whole Foods is an hour away.

Thank you for any help you can give!

Erin

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The first thing I did was get online and look up the regular stuff that we ate every day to see if any of it was gluten free. Surprisingly a lot of it was-ketchup, salad dressing, pasta sauce, etc... I not to buy store stuff labled gluten free too much, because it seems like just putting a gluten-free lable raises the price. Bread is a tough one, but it isnt that hard to make-unfortunately in the 3 months that I have been gluten free I havent been too impressed with bread, so we just pretty much cut it out totally. There are a lot of other grains that taste good that are naturally gluten free. Rice Pasta tastes really good.

So we spend about 100 dollars a week on food and then usually eat out once or twice a week(gotta love Wendys gluten-free chili and frostys!). Remember the easiest things that are gluten-free. Meat, veggies, fruits, etc.. I know they cost more though=(. The biggest thing we do to save money is to make soups and chilis and stuff. I make a big pot of food every couple days to eat for lunch for me and the kids. (Luckily my husband has a microwave at work so he can take soup too). My main thing in grocery shopping is trying not to buy hardly any processed foods. I know it is hard, but there are all kinds of yummy treats that you can make that are homemade that are much cheaper than processed gluten free foods. Fruit slices dipped in yogurt(just make sure its gluten-free), homemade french fries(regular and sweet potato fries), 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies(sugar egg and pb), Chex cereal is a big money saver-at walmart, the boxes are 2 dollars a box and they have chocolate, honey nut, cinnamon, corn and rice-all of those are gluten-free! They make great snacks. I made muddie buddies and they were a huge hit. Pumpkin pie made without the crust is so good(cheap right now because the pumpkin is on sale! I even made black bean brownies that were quite a hit around here. Dont forget that most plain canned beans and veggies are gluten-free and cheap, just check the ingredients(Walmart brand beans are NOT gluten free).

Good luck!

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Hi Erin, two's a rough age! We're just starting the gluten-free diet too (4 year old son confirmed diagnosis last week). My bill has definitely gone up but I'm trying to slim it down. I remember KISS - keep it simple silly. Not sure where I got that but it's stuck! Breakfast is cereal. That's what my son loves to have and what he'll eat. He loves EnviroKidz "Kix" like cereals. I'm not sure on all the prices but between TJ's and Whole Foods, TJ's is cheaper. I had him pick out some others to try too that weren't as expensive. Lunch and dinner are gluten-free and I try to stick to basics again, stuff that's naturally gluten-free. I too have been doing a lot of soups lately. Luckily my son likes meat and rice. On occasion I'll make him a rice pasta mac-n-cheese. He likes the Annie's brand. I heard TJ's has this cheaper under their name with the Annie's cheese packet. I haven't been to TJ's yet to see. Snacks: cheese (in any form, including cottage cheese), yogurt, fruit/veg (dips are always a hit - yogurt, peanut butter, put a little honey in either of those), fruit leathers/sticks, dry cereal, some gluten-free snacks (like EnviroKidz rice bars or some vanilla animal cookies or rice cakes). I try to stay away from the processed snacks and just pick one up to try here and there to see what he likes. Once I know what he likes for a quick to-go snack, I'll shop around and stock up. (I always take a fruit/veg, cheese/yogurt and grain type when we're on the go. My boys eat A LOT.) Even look online for foods. Either buy a bunch of different stuff to try and to help with shipping or once you know her favorites see if you can find a better deal elsewhere. For instance, I found Clif Kidz fruit sticks on Amazon way cheaper than in a store. I cut the individual price of a stick in half just by ordering off Amazon and doing a prescription (where they send it to every 1-3 months, depending on what I put in). And subscriptions are always free shipping. Oh, I really liked the Kinnikinnick vanilla creme cookies for a treat.

Coupons... Now that's something I'd like to know about! I never find coupons for what I actually buy, even before having to go gluten-free!

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I've found a lot of comfort in Yoplait's yogurt selections. My local grocery store has just started stocking some new flavors which really curb my cravings for sweet stuff. Apple turnover, strawberry cheesecake, white chocolate strawberry, etc. As for bread I've tried two brands and one of them is fantastic while the other is only good as toast. The good one is Udi's and the not-so-good is Food for Life. The first loaf of Udi's I had was smaller slices and a little hard but this last loaf I bought is almost regular sized slices and it's really soft and fluffy and tastes great (better than normal bread, i think!) I'm hoping that wasn't a fluke loaf though because it wasn't frozen when I bought it, only refrigerated so I'm thinking that had something to do with it. There are a bunch of recipes for gluten free baked goods but I'm not a good baker either so I haven't tried them.

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I used corn tortillas in place of bread. They are cheap and easy to use. I like them toasted and they make a good base for pizza. For snacks I like cheese and fruit, chocolate and nuts, popcorn. I don't eat much in the processed foods arena. The PB cookies with no flour are the best. I made those long before I went gluten-free.

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I used corn tortillas in place of bread. They are cheap and easy to use. I like them toasted and they make a good base for pizza. For snacks I like cheese and fruit, chocolate and nuts, popcorn. I don't eat much in the processed foods arena. The PB cookies with no flour are the best. I made those long before I went gluten-free.

Erin, We switched to white corn tortillas, you can get a huge stack pretty cheap. No flour pb cookies are so easy to make too!

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A fun, quick lunch/dinner that my boys love is pasta pizza. Cook up some pasta. Coat with pizza sauce and add anything you would to a pizza (or process veggies to hide in the sauce): black olives, cut up pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, etc. Have the sauce warming up before pasta is ready. Precook veggies if desired too. Top with cheese. They love adding the cheese to the bowl.

Of course I've just started trying to find a pasta I like!

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I've found that my grocery bill has actually decreased. Our overall food expenses have decreased dramatically due to the fact that we eat out maybe once every 3 weeks instead of 3x a week and I'm mostly buying whole foods plus yogurt, cheese, etc at the grocery store. I do all of my shopping at Fred Meyer's and they have a decent gluten-free section with the extra stuff I need, ie gluten-free pretzles etc. When Envirokidz cereal is on sale, I buy as much as they have on the shelves and store in the pantry. I make cereal bars and trail mix out of it too to save $. Winco is another store here that occasionally has the cereal too and they only charge $1.98 per box (!!!), so I buy a lot there too. I do bake a lot, it's a hobby, so we also save money there. It's very overwhelming at first for sure. It took me a good 6mo to feel really comfortable to the point where it was 2nd nature to us. It's been 4 years so far and I can't remember my world that wasn't gluten-free now ;)

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The budget hit will fade.

As you will find out, most of the stuff out there tastes like crap....but products today are way better than even a year ago.

It is more expensive but I think by the time is all said and done your about 20 percent higher.

Also see this thread:

http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/index.php?showtopic=63447

Buying through an HSA will help. You can open one at a local bank. If your gluten-free purchases are $30 a week, throw $30 a week in an HSA out of your pre-tax income and buy the foods with that. I think you can also repay yourself but I'd check with a accountant to be sure.

It'll even out once you figure out what is good and what is not.

It is not as bad as it seems today. In 3-4 months you'll have it figured out.

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I have found that most kids will eat rice cakes with their favorite spread if that helps.

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We gave up on the bread-I use corn tortillas at home--make and excellent grilled sandwich, and rice cakes when we are out-pb&j. or we just make roll-ups--meat and/or cheese rolled up.

chex cereal is gluten-free, though we had trouble with the flavors, we tolerate the plain. they make good muddy buddies and other mixes too.

Learn to bake-carol Fenster's cookbooks are my favorite, but that's how I make cookies, and muffins are a breakfast staple. We also make a lot of smoothies for breakfast-fruit and soy milk ( some of mine are also dairy free) I freeze the fruit to make the smoothie thicker.

We also do well gluten free shopping at a "scratch and dent" store-Amelia's in one such chain, but there are 2 other within driving distance of our house. Little stores that sell dented and overstocks from other places. It's hit or miss, but I have gotten Pamela's cookies for .75, and enviro kids cereal for $1 a box, I always buy it all when it's there--also these excellent slice and bake type cookies called gluten Freida's so great-unfortunately never saw them again, adn I 'm sure I couldn't pay full price. got Ian's past kits for $1 each too--I bought 20. anyway, usually the gluten free stuff goes really cheap and sits their waiting for you b/c no one else knows what it is. See if there is a store like this near you.

It does get easier once you learn and your child adjusts to eating different things.

health is priceless.

Patty

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While in Colorado this summer we discovered Udi's Bakery. Whole Foods now carries their pizza dough and bread in the frozen food section. Very good. Excellent if you can get it fresh baked.

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Bread is really the tough one for me! If it were me, I would just do without it. As a diabetic myself, bread is something I don't eat often. Still, it is nice to be able to grab a quick sandwich every now and then.

At first, I bought a bread machine and tried all sorts of recipes and mixes. If something came out good once, it never did again. The only real success I had was the zucchini bread recipe here on this site. But I don't make it often because we just can't eat a whole loaf!

Recently daughter has found that she likes the Rice Starch Loaf and the Flax Bread from Ener-G. They are best heated in the microwave for about 10 seconds or toasted.

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I make bread in the bread machine. I just use the gluten free bread mixes (like Bob's Red Mill). I don't know if any stores sell that around you but you may be able to order it through the mail. Some of the gluten free bread I make is so good that non gluten free people love it. My ILs ask for some every time I make it. You can get some pretty good brown rice pasta at TJs. Most people don't even notice that it is gluten free. Both of my kids love rice crackers which are pretty easy to find. I try to stay away from gluten free processed foods since they are expensive (and whole foods are better anyway).

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