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Tricks To Staying Gluten Free In The Economy?

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Thanks to this economy my family, as many others, have taken a big hit. I start out the month alright, but by the time the end of the month gets here, we cut to cut corners to make sure we have the means to pay the bills. In me area, which is as rural as mayberry, there is limited gluten free foods to choose from, so I mainly eat meat and fresh produce, which is the most expensive stuff in the store. We aren't eating steak at night, and I already am a coupon maniac, as well as carefully planning meals and onlt getting the bare minimum. Anyone have any other ideas? I have 3 options by months end, I either live off of gluten free chex and beans, break down and eat the cheapy pasta meals I make for the fam and feel awful, or starve. Anyone else have this problem? I am so tired of feeling like crap at the end of the month, but then I get starving...arrrhh

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Adjust your regular, normally gluten free foods, to be cheaper.

Beans and rice as a "filler" aren't expensive. Meat and produce goes along with it, but as a compliment.

Find recipes that allow you to make the most use out of the cheaper produce - vegetable stews that use root veggies, bean soups with onions/carrots, etc. (Literally, next time you're at the store, see what the cheapest veggies are, then come home and look for recipes that use them. Bok choy tends to be fairly cheap around here, broccoli isn't always.)

You may find that starting a small garden helps as well.

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yes, we all know gluten-free isn't a poor man's lifestyle! But there are many mainstream foods that are gluten-free . If you are not aware of them send me a message & I'll fill you in....

I suggest taking a few extra bucks & buy in bulk.....make your own sweets. I can't mention the name but there is a big place that sells by the case & has free shipping on many gluten-free items.... The name has six letters & begins with A__ __ __ ___ N.

You can save a ton of money in the long haul... I buy cereal , gluten-free flour, cake mixes, cookies & much more...

By making your own breads, sweets you will cut your costs way down. Most people eat meat , veggies & fruit in their regular diet so that shouldn't be much different.

Also check around in your community , there is a program called Angel Ministries ( usually run by a church) that has a gluten-free food box for around $25.00 for a month ... it has meat fruits, & veggies in it....

another option would be to see if you can get food vouchers from your local dept of welfare...if your income is low enough..

When things are on sale at your local grocery buy an extra can or so & soon you will start to have a small reserve... I just bought 6 cans of progresso soups that are gluten-free for a dollar a can. Usually these are around $3-3.50 a can....

Since I don't know how long you have been gluten-free I'm not sure if this will help or not but The University Of Chicago sends out newbie packages for free..

hth

blessings

mamaw

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I buy stuff on sale and plan my meals around what I get.

I find that most coupons are for more expensive items, so I don't use coupons at all.

I make big soups and freeze for later. A bowl of vegetable soup and a couple eggs makes a great, light dinner. You can also throw in leftover meat for a different flavor.

Beans and rice, as Tiffany said.

Frozen produce and meats are sometimes cheaper, shop with a calculator and a notepad.

I buy no fruit juices or pop or bottled water.

I don't use "one use then throw it away" cleaning products. Vinegar and ammonia make excellent cleaners.

I have 'no-shop' weekends wherein I scour my freezer/frig/cupboards to eat all leftovers so nothing is forgotten.

My mom used to make "stuffies" - make some bread dough into little patties. Fill them with chopped leftovers (meats, veggies, cheese, whatever) and squeeze the tops shut. Bake or freeze. Brazilian cheese rolls would work well for this. A friend of mine makes "crud toast", same concept, just on already cooked bread.

Eat lunch at the Costco sample stands :D (hard to do gluten-free, but your kids might have fun).

check out Amazon . com for deals. Only buy stuff you want WHEN it's on sale.

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I hear you. I'm getting really tired of chicken, but honestly beef and pork have become so expensive and fish is out of this world where I live. Our only Organic Store went out of business this month so things just got a little rougher in terms of finding gluten-free flours and products. I'm pretty much going to have to give up that whole segment of my diet.

I priced things from on-line stores this week and nearly drove myself crazy. I live in a 900 sq ft house so there's not much room to store 12 of something if I order on-line and with the cost of shipping going up and up and it's just not worth it to me anymore to buy on-line.

These are my suggestions. Buy as much chicken as you can stand to eat, it's usually the cheapest meat out there. Buy the big bag of potatos which is always cheaper. Buy a big bag of real rice, not the minute rice stuff and learn how to cook it. Real rice is cheaper and the bigger the bag the cheaper. Buy canned tomatoes on sale whenever you can. Most things taste good smothered in tomatoes, even potatos and rice. Buy the big blocks of cheddar chesse; cheese can help on a lot of dishes, particularly with kids, and cut up in chunks can even make decent snakes. Try out several different kinds of beans; they're cheaper per serving and you can do a lot with them. Find a couple you like and look up recipes for them.

Canned tuna is usually gluten-free if you can find it cheap enough. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and can be served so many ways, buy the biggest carton of eggs they have as the bigger the cheaper usually.

See if you can find a slow cooker on sale or at a thirft store. Any meat cooked in it for 6 hours will be tender, even the worst cheapest cuts of meat. You can make fabulous stews and soups with it and meat for a large batch of enchiladas or burritos or tacos.

Learn to make casseroles. Look up recipes for them. They're usually rice or potato based and use meat sparingly. Forget about the special gluten-free stuff for now. The crackers and bread and stuff it just overwhelmingly expensive and really not worth it when you consider the nutritional value vs the cost.

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...

I find that most coupons are for more expensive items, so I don't use coupons at all.

...

I buy no fruit juices or pop or bottled water.

I don't use "one use then throw it away" cleaning products. Vinegar and ammonia make excellent cleaners.

...

All these. Fruit juice is a special treat around the house here. Like dessert. Baking soda is an excellent cleaner as well - great for the stovetop.

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See if you can find a slow cooker on sale or at a thirft store.

VioletBlue,

Wouldn't a slow cooker purchased at a thrift store be contaminated? I have two of them that I haven't been using because of fear I'd get cross contaminated from the ceramic. Would the dishwasher be enough to get it clean?

Jackay

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Ceramic should be cleanable unless it's scratched, and if it's scratched it'll break after a few uses so you shouldn't buy it anyway.

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Yep, exactly. Ceramic can be cleaned. Some of the older cookers have plastic lids so I'd be worried about that. Look for one with a glass lid.

Ceramic should be cleanable unless it's scratched, and if it's scratched it'll break after a few uses so you shouldn't buy it anyway.

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Love the ideas - thanks! Also, look into buying 1/4 or even half of a animal (pig/cow). We do and it saves so much money in the long run. plus I know what goes into them (is my in-laws I get from). plus it just tastes better.

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Just a few ideas...

Ground turkey is inexpensive compared to beef. While I'm not fond of it as is, it's great to use in pasta sauce or chili (something with herbs/spices). Turkey breakfast or "Italian" sausage is good and is so lean compared to a lot of ground beef.

Vegetarian chili is inexpensive and also very nutritional. Serve over brown rice. Experiment using different kinds of veggies. I've seen some recipes that include sweet potatoes in it.

Canned salmon...make salmon patties if your family likes them or search the net for more ideas using canned salmon.

Quiche - I think it's so yummy and you can use a lot of different things in it. Make it crustless and you won't have to use expensive gluten free flours or buy a gluten free crust. It's also a breeze to throw together. Eggs are a good source of protein and are very affordable.

A breakfast casserole using frozen hash browns, eggs, etc. Or make a farmer's breakfast for dinner.

Roast a turkey or chicken and find lots of ways to incorporate them into meals, casseroles, soup.

Use store brands of lots of things unless coupons make brand names more affordable. Buy a few extra things each week and stash them for the end of the month.

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Lots of great advice and many things that we do too. So many of us are in the position of having to cut back and/or make the best use of our resources. I've been trying to cut down on paper products. Got out the sewing machine and cut out some squares of fabric and sewed them together for napkins to replace the paper napkins we used to buy. Fabric was from on-hand material so no cost. I sometimes recycle old woven cotton shirts or clothes for this purpose. Dark colors or busy patterns work best IMHO. In a pinch and out of paper towels(my worst wasteful habit) I have been cutting up brown paper shopping bags to serve as draining papers for fried things. Keep a small stack of them in the kitchen.

Don't waste things like broccoli stalks. They can be peeled and chopped and added to soups, rice, casseroles etc.

Asian markets are good sources for inexpensive flours and starches and bulk rice if you invest in a rice cooker.

I too buy veg. and fruit according to what's on sale and what's in season and prepare it very simply. Don't toss overripe bananas. They can be frozen in their skins and used in baking things like banana bread or muffins or in smoothies. The skins turn black but the flesh inside stays nice and is actually more flavorful. Many frugal things are actually healthier for us. I make my own broth from turkey or chicken carcasses after we've eaten the roasted bird. It requires very little effort-only some time and produces a good quality, healthier broth.

shredding and freezing your own cheese can be cost effective

Herbs are easily grown in containers and can be dried or frozen according to the variety. I grow sage and dry it and freeze it and use it all winter to flavor many things. One plant that keeps regrowing and supplies me for a year(year after year) with almost no effort costs me what one small package in the store would. Same for parsely and thyme.

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Stir-fries...how could I forget! unsure.gif A little meat goes a long ways when combined with lots of veggies.

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Do you have an Aldi store near you? Good food, for A LOT less than other grocery stores! A LOT less!

Salad greens, fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meats, frozen meats, frozen veg and berries are cheaper than fresh veg. And probably fresher too!

I rarely eat packaged or manufactured foods, gluten free or not. I eat whole natural foods 90% of the time. What I can't get at Aldi, I shop around for the sale prices at the 4 other major stores in town.

It can take a bit of looking and planning, but there's no way I'd ever resort to making myself sick just to have food. There are ways to eat affordably, and eat healthfully.

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Some of the tips I used to give in my nutrition-cooking classes were:

-Try to plan out your meals ahead of time before going to the grocery store, if you write out a whole shopping list it actually helps you resist compulsive buying (which grocery stores are actually built around).

-Get familiar with what vegetables are currently in season. If you're buying fresh produce then the price of the product will always fluctuate during the year. Most often times not only is produce cheaper with it's in season, but it's also more flavorful and nutritious!

-Check online for good deals. Most grocery stores will post their current sales online so you can use this information to help you design a meal plan for the week. Also since you're looking at the food online it will be easy for you to check an item's gluten-free status!

-Plant an herb garden. Buying herbs can be pretty expensive as if you get them fresh then it's easy to not use up all of it and have it go bad on you. Some stores offer cheap bulk fresh herbs but a lot of times you're limited to the small 2-3-4-5 dollar packages for specialty herbs, this can really add up if (like me) you like to add a fresh and healthy note to your food with herbs. Many different herbs can be found at your local garden center and if you plant them in appropriate pots can become inside plants during the times of year where they may not fair so well outside. Certain herbs like lavender, rosemary, parsley and mint (ESPECIALLY mint) grow quite well in a pot and will provide you will more than enough opportunities to pinch a bit off for cooking.

- Pasta salads used to be a way that I would recommend stretching the caloric worth of a meat dish (only a little bit of meat flavors a lot of pasta!) but, since my diagnosis, not sure how I feel about all those times I recommended that :(

Alternatively, things like carrots and celery also add some relatively cheap bulk to a salad product and can help appease hunger.

- Depending on the time of year and where you live tomatoes can be way too expensive to buy fresh (especially down here in S.Fla). Luckily any produce that is high in acidity lends itself very well to canning. Most canning also occurs during the time of year when the item is in season so if you're not in that particular time of year the tomatoes in the can will often times be much more ripe and flavorful (and nutritious!) than their much more expensive counterparts.

- Buy your meat in bulk. Try to plan out your next weeks meals to revolve around a particular type of meat and find the family saver package of that meat. Take the package once you get home and cook off most of the pieces with minimal seasoning then you can simply reheat and combine with a premade or prepurchased sauce. Each new day, a new sauce and a new side item and it's a different meal!

From the often-starving college student part of me I will also add that beans and rice is a fantastic source of super cheap caloric intake. Having been raised in Miami, I'm particularly partial towards black beans and rice with a little bit of homemade mojo sauce. Also, eggs are your friend (and have their own gluten free encasement!).

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Everyone gave you great ideas.....I've been in your shoes before, quite recently really. We are a family of 6 that is gluten free and dairy free as well. There have been times I've had $150 to feed us all for 2 weeks. Not easy, but I did it.

One item I wanted to mention was Masa Harina flour (Maseca brand). I find it at Walmart...it's corn flour, gluten free, and dirt cheap. I just mixed it with water to make a dough, and from there you can make papusas. Search You Tube for tutorials on how to make them. I can't get them quite right, it's a leanred skill I suppose, but they are tasty and the kids like them.

I also take masa harina dough, fry it in canola oil, and dust with cinnamon sugar after taking them out of the pan. This is one of the kids favorite desserts, and you can't make a gluten free dessert any cheaper!

Can't think of anything else other people haven't mentioned! I try to buy the cheapest items that are the most filling. We don't really buy processed anything, not even cereal. Breakfast is usually eggs, a hot whole grain cereal (like grits or brown rice), or pancakes w/jam. The only juice I buy is orange juice to go with breakfast, and almond milk for dinner. No soda or other juice of any kind...too pricey and not good for the teeth anyway!

Lunch is usually some sort of sandwich on homemade bread, or leftovers. I add rice to anything I can to make a meal stretch.

The biggest key I think to stretching money...is plan, plan, plan. I plan meals for two weeks based on what meat is on sale. Whole chickens are my best friend. I roast one for dinner, use the leftover meat for chicken salad, and make chicken broth with the bones. I also make a detailed list and figure out the cost before I even go to the store, and make adjustments needed to stay within my limit.

It's hard, but you can do it, your health depends on it! Good luck!

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