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lynxigirl

How Do You Afford It?

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I work usually 60 hr a week, overnight so I get shift differential, live in a small apt by myself and my critters. I don't hardly make enough to make ends meet and afford "normal" food. Now, I'm changing everything about my diet, having to replace nearly everything in my kitchen(pans, storage containers, cooking utinsils, food) and now I discover that I have to change my CATS over to gluten-free as well. The food for THEM is expenseive. The food for me is expensive. I am cooking a ton, only buying a few things like a box of blue diamond crackers, eating fruit and veggies and TRYING to be good. I'm not unfamiliar with the diet, mom was celiac too. Maybe this is just catching up with me and getting more and more frustrating cause I'm not noticing any difference, still have BAD d and stomache issues. tonight 2 co-workers offred me cookies and looked at me like I had 5 or 6 heads when I said no. They have been told about me being celiac... How do you afford to get the foods to cook with, replace everything in the ****ing kitchen and then replace food for animals so you don't get cced? I work like crazy, I'm miserable, I'm sick, I'm stressed. I was dx with fibro so I hurt all the time, I don't dare take anything and haven't had time to call manufacturers. I don't know how to do this. I think it'll be ok, I actually think one of my cats could be celiac too as he throws up alot and it is the worst from both ends if he eats pasta and he's the size of a 6 wk old kitten and he's 7 months. I know this is probably just me adjusting, but honestly I just looked at my bank account and realized how much all this has cost and I don't know how to do it or continue it. I'm sorry this is so long and I am just venting and being a baby but damn it.....when I couldn't hardly afford "normal" food, how the he** and I supposed to keep THIS up??????

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It is hard in the beginning, that's for sure. And I can't talk about pet food because I didn't change our dog's food so I know nothing about that.

But, about the cost of "normal" vs. "celiac" food. You don't really have to spend more money than normal unless you were eating all inexpensive processed stuff before. Rice and beans is an international dish, spiced differently depending on where people live. Both are cheap. One version I make is rice, black beans, a can of chopped tomatoes, some diced onion, spiced how I want.

Another inexpensive thing is potatoes -- bake a potato and put a few toppings on -- maybe cheese (if you can have dairy), or some cooked broccoli.

Stalk the sales. If you have freezer space and can afford it, buy a larger amount of meat and freeze it. Also if you're cooking with ground beef you can easily halve the amount of meat in a recipe with hardly any difference in taste.

Canned fruit is much less expensive than fresh fruit and of course you can buy things that aren't in season. (around here anything that's fresh and not in-season is very expensive).

Avoid all processed gluten free things unless you want to get something as a treat. But don't depend on those things for a lot of meals. Or, decide which of them is non-negotiable. For me it would be bread for my morning toast. I used to eat sandwiches a lot, but now I just use the bread (Udi's) for toast. So a loaf probably lasts just as long as a gluteny one did, since I'm eating less.

Corn tortillas are usually cheap and they can be a good substitute for bread. I melt cheese on them, or make a pizza substitute (tomato sauce, cheese, some chopped veggies, toast in toaster oven till cheese melts).

As for replacing all pots, utensils, etc. -- that could get expensive! To be honest I didn't replace anything except my colander. Well I bought myself one since my family still eats gluten. I wouldn't use a regular toaster that had toasted gluteny bread but a toaster oven is fine I think, if you've cleaned off the rack. My frying pans are not scratched so I didn't replace those. I use those hard plastic spoons for cooking, not wood, and same for my cutting boards (which are not scratched either). If you do feel that you need to replace everything maybe you can start with the most important things and do it bit by bit. (most important, in my opinion, would be colander, toaster, and scratched pans/cutting boards.)

It does seem overwhelming at first. I'm only about a year and a half into this diet so I can remember at the beginning thinking "omg, what can I eat?" But then I realized that most food in its natural state is gluten free, so that helped me begin to think about cooking.

Hope that helps a little. :)

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Hi lynxigirl,

Gluten became my poisin 11 months ago. I was poor but working in a bakery. I got sick from a sinus infection that kept me from work. I went back to work at only 80percent and at the end of that 6 hour shift I had head to toe DH (dermatitis herpetiformis).

Since going gluten free a lot of gastro and neuro symptoms have calmed. But the DH is persistent. Seems the skin is a last grass area for gluten intolerance.

I are very low income but seem to have made some way to getting 'healthy' though my skin might disagree from night to night.

Buy the cheapest of meat whenever it is on special. Freeze it and use in bulk stew/casserole/soup etc.

Are there any local supermarkets that aren't the usual big monopoly types near by? I work at a local (not super-monopoly) supermarket and there are always great specials for (considered) over-ripe fruit/vege but these are the best for soup/stew/caserole and roast meals etc.

Lots of rice and rice noodles.

Avoid those stupidly expensive "gluten free" products ((except those above)).

Get simple - meat/seafood with veg, fruit and (expensive but nutritionally valuable -you need less of it for more value) dairy products.

(((When you use to eat a whole tub of yogurt then now you need a tub every few days or week.. hope this gives you an idea of what I mean.)))

There is lots for detail i could provide but the general idea is keep it simple. Simple meals with lots of simple (((ie natural))) ingredients. Use what is cheap at the time. Garlic is my local staple fior price and flavour but likely to change if it gets expensive and less reliable.

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Hey Lynxi,

Don't fret about the pet food, you have enough to worry about yourself. My 4 legged best friend (dog) is on special food that happens to be gluten free. Not our choice but his stomachs, yes it it expensive but something we have to live with. I still wash my hands extensively after touching dog food, dog cookies, cat food, cat cookies, fish food, pond food. Our home has 1 dog, 1 cat, inside fish tank and outside pond. I also feed 6 feral cats at work and like I said wash hands extensively. Do watch the kisses from the cats just like you would do from a person who eats gluten. I know it sounds dumb but you have to be careful.

You sound like your on the right track at home, throw out what you have to and replace a little at a time. I replaced my colander, old non-stick fry pans, cutting board, toaster and wooden spoons. Whole foods are the most important and least expensive compared to processed. If you have the time and you live in a large area, start shopping and comparing prices and you will find alot of gluten free items (crackers, breads, pasta, bread crumbs, cookies) can be .50 to a $1 cheaper per item. Read labels on all items and when in doubt do without.

You'll start feeling better soon, it took me a good 3 months, I had my ups and downs and chronic bouts of bathrooms issues. Look into vitamins and maybe a daily round of probiotic. Give them kitty a gluten free kiss and fell good.

Cathey

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You have received some great advise already and I don't have too much to add.

Just keep it simple. Fresh is best and no processed foods, until you feel better. Branch out with one addition at a time. And do your cooking on the weekend to freeze, like soups or stews for weekly dinners.

And... your cat eats pasta? Probably not too good for the cat. B)

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If you're working overnight you're in the perfect position to stalk meat like I do. There are two local groceries who mark down their meats that are nearly out of date which they do early in the mornings. I got a $60 leg of lamb once for $20. I was so excited! But usually what I find is super cheap chicken, beef and pork marked down to 25-50% of it's price. This is my biggest cost cutting adventure, I just freeze what I won't use right away. I buy ginormous bags of brown rice and keep it in a bucket. I was buying potatoes but I just don't eat enough of them, I'd frankly rather have rice or pasta. Like said though it's probably a good idea to totally skip the gluten free substitute foods. You can also check produce to see if they mark down things like salads and such when they're nearing expiration, that can get you some healthy foods on the cheap as long as you're going to eat them up quick.

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Thank you so much for the ideas. I will do my shopping at lunch and when I get off work and see about getting the discounted fresh stuff and just go simple. Most days I handle things well, but the thought of having to put the cats on it and then going to look at gluten-free food for them I think put me over the edge yesterday. Sorry for the meltdown! :)

Yes, Marvin eats pasta.....he eats pretty much anything he wants cause he is SOOOOO tiny and has had numerous health issues. He just got bottle broke when he turned 6 months and what he wants, as long as it isn't onion or chocolate, he gets.

Again, thank you and I will try not to melt too often! :P

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Don't be sorry for melting down, we all do it. I had my own meltdown on Monday, it happens. I'd say you're doing okay if you're handling things just fine most days. Sometimes a good cry or meltdown and a friend is all we need to make everything right with the world again.

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It is an adjustment. Plus learning a new way of shopping. One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is rice cakes. I love them with mayo and sliced meat, with a bit of lettuce and tomato as well. Where I am, rice cakes are super cheap when on sale. I second the rice and beans, along with corn tortillas. Mexican food can be very inexpensive if you like it. The main way I save money on food is to shop the sales. Most of the things I buy are on sale. If chicken legs are on sale, that's what we are having this week, etc.

I don't know anything about pet food. Why is that necessary? If it is because you are "touching" it, you can find a big box of plastic gloves at the 99 cent store that you could use when handling their food. Wouldn't it be OK as long as you had separate dishes and utensils?

I didn't replace many of my dishes, or pots and pans. But I don't like non stick cookware, so I was OK there. The only thing I replaced was my colander and wooden spoons.

I am sorry you are having a hard time. We all have those days sometimes. I hope it gets better!

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Cats are carnivores. I don't see why they are eating grains. No wonder they have diarrhea! I cook all the food for my 3 dogs. They eat meats, fish, sweet potatoes, pumpking and other vegetables. No risk of cc. I'd try your cat on some fish and see how he does.

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polenta is cheaper than rice porridge - so I have started making sweet polenta porridge in the morning. I also use heaps of potatos - I buy those huge bags for nothing, eat in season only, so pumpkin etc when its in season, and rice and rice noodles as suggested above. I do make pasta sometimes - but not often as its too expensive!

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This is all great advice.

As for the pet food...I'm currently living where they look at me like I'm crazy when I ask about gluten-free dog food so our family dog has food that *may* have gluten in it (labeling is not that great here in Poland for some things!) I wash my hands like crazy if I have to touch his food, his treats, his toys, his dishes, pretty much anything he would lick. I also do not let him lick my face -- he likes to give kisses. If I touch him I wash my hands before I touch anything else! Tedious but it seems to be working for me.

Also, do you have a crockpot? It can save so much time and energy and money and usually makes a good amount of food so you can freeze several more meal's worth. A great site is http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ One of her daughters has Celiac Disease so all recipes are gluten-free and the author is big on just being able to dump everything in and leave it alone until the meal is ready. I was a fan of that site 2 years before I was ever diagnosed with Celiac so the recipes don't usually require anything 'special.' Look for sales at Target or Wal Mart -- I bought a second crockpot a couple of years ago for only $15 and boy have I used it much much more than $15 worth.

Good luck.

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I subscribe to a meal planning service (e-meals) She has a gluten free option. It is like $18 for 3 months and that is all you will need to get going. Just save them. Her meals are better than what I come up with and also cheaper. I just mark on the ones I don't want on the shopping list. When I go with her plan, I save more than if I went with my own. If you are on your own, then you could do a few meals and then leftovers.

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I don't buy many gluten-free replacement items anymore. I just buy potatoes, eggs, rice, meat, veggies, canned diced tomatoes, dried beans. Thats really about it.

Some things I have found are relatively inexpensive, fryer chickens (I buy mine from Kroger, they are labeled gluten free) they are between $3-$4 I put them in the crock pot, they cook all day and taste like a rottiseraire chicken. One of those will feed 4 people on a hungry day, or will stretch farther if put in things, like rice, veggies! You can also feed the scraps to your cat, I feed our dog the leftovers, of chicken, rice...etc (he is allergic to corn). He acts like its the best treat on earth!

I buy a lot of frozen veggies/fruit because its cheaper unless the veggie or fruit is in season. For snacks popcorn is great!

I think the crockpot is a lifesaver for inexpensive easy meals.

Right now, I am feeding a family of 4 on $120, and I am not trying too hard, and I am buying more expensive food because I am trying to lose weight increase protein.

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You really are NOT doing the sick cat a favor feeding him "anything he wants."

The better pet foods are concentrated proteins, not cheap fill, so the bags cost more, but the pets eat a lot less of it, so it evens out to being the same "cost."

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Right now, I am feeding a family of 4 on $120, and I am not trying too hard, and I am buying more expensive food because I am trying to lose weight increase protein.

Holy cow, that is great! Is that per month?

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Replace things as you can afford. I was a broke student when I was gluten-free so all I replaced was a cutting board and my toaster. I found one on sale for $20. My one big splurge was a nice rice cooker and I had to save for it. I scrubbed everything else, cleaned up my kitchen, and called it good.

I was pretty much living on dried lentils and beans, rice bought in 20 lb bags because it's cheaper per pound, in-season fruits and vegetables, potatoes, and eggs. I would watch for chickens on sale for $4 or a cheap cut of beef to pot roast for $7. Like Babs, I rely heavily on a crockpot when I'm busy and I freeze leftovers for lunches or days I'm too tired to cook.

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Cooking more, and using whole foods will be cheaper than relying on convenience foods. A good home-made chicken stock is surprisingly nourishing and you make it from chicken bones and whatever veggies you can spare link. Plus the natural gelatin is soothing to the stomach. A whole chicken at Trader Joe's usually runs me about $5.50 and I can get several meals out of, and maybe 4 quarts or so of stock. Chicken breast is more expensive than chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks, and the dark meat tastes better to me :P Like others have said, rice, beans, and lentils in bulk are super cheap (remember to buy them plain and not seasoned). White and sweet potatos are fairly cheap and are great for lunch/meals, I used to take them to work for lunch all the time and nuke 'em in the microwave. While you might not be able to handle most dairy, you might be okay with butter or even goat cheese is divine in potatoes. For more protein you could top it with cheese or some ground beef. Ground beef is also super cheap! I have made many a meal/slop by just cooking up some ground beef with various veggies tossed in and a nubbin of butter (squash, green beans, broccoli, onions, carrots, kale..) During the summer see if you can find any friends who garden, they often have surpluses of certain things like tomatoes and summer squash that they're happy to give away.

I personally don't think your cats need to be gluten-free. Feed them and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. When you clean their dishes rinse them out and run them through the dishwasher instead of hand washing. I also don't think your kitty should be eating pasta, anyways. Regular cat food should do -- if they get hungry enough they'll eat it even if they're being picky. Plus less pasta for them = more pasta for you. I also have a cat that throws up, but only if she eats too fast. I've never really heard of pets having Celiac. Perhaps it could be something else?

Maybe there are other parts of your budget you could cut back on too? For me I'd rather have good food than entertainment stuff, clothes, etc etc. Two of the biggest things that have saved me money this year is cancelling me phone contract and switching to pay-as-you-go (Tracphone) and cancelling cable and using Netflix instead. Something to think about :)

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Oh my gosh! When I logged on today I can't believe the replys and wonderful ideas. Thank you SO much! :) I have a crock pot but seldom have used it before, I guess it's time to break it in! :P I am definately going to go shopping with a different eye.... I have rice, I've been making rice and beans, but I haven't cared for them but I'll try with different spices and stuff. I definately will try more of the shopping and I have thought about getting a tomato plant, and maybe a couple others that I can grow on my balcony.

With my cat Marvin who eats whatever, pasta included, I have not made it for myself and so he hasn't had any and won't unless momma has a touch to share.... I will work on switching them later and just be diligent about everything with regards to their dishes and licking me. His sister was spayed today and she nurses on me when she doesn't feel good, that is one of the main things I worry about with her. :huh:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for listening and giving me ideas! :)

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Oh my gosh! When I logged on today I can't believe the replys and wonderful ideas. Thank you SO much! :) I have a crock pot but seldom have used it before, I guess it's time to break it in! :P I am definately going to go shopping with a different eye.... I have rice, I've been making rice and beans, but I haven't cared for them but I'll try with different spices and stuff. I definately will try more of the shopping and I have thought about getting a tomato plant, and maybe a couple others that I can grow on my balcony.

With my cat Marvin who eats whatever, pasta included, I have not made it for myself and so he hasn't had any and won't unless momma has a touch to share.... I will work on switching them later and just be diligent about everything with regards to their dishes and licking me. His sister was spayed today and she nurses on me when she doesn't feel good, that is one of the main things I worry about with her. :huh:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for listening and giving me ideas! :)

If your cats are eating foods with gluten they *could* cc you. If you notice..they like to lick their fur after eating. That leaves some gluten on their fur, which you can get on your hands from petting them.

You'll have to be very careful about touching your mouth without thinking. Be sure to wash your hands frequently.

The gluten-free pet foods are pricey, but they go farther than gluten ones. They don't have the cheap grain fillers and you can feed them less. Less "clean up" too.

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