I’ve been living gluten free as a coeliac for 16 months now and it’s a diet where you can’t cut corners or ‘cheat’. I can’t wake up in the morning and think ‘oh it’s ok I’ll just have a little bit of gluten today’, a slice of bread, a biscuit – oh no if that were to happen my body would go crazy and I would then find myself confined to the bathroom very poorly. Gluten equals poison to my body!
So this means lots of planning of what you’re going to eat, when and cooking from scratch (most of the time). Gluten free food can be expensive. Food manufacturers charge up to three times as much as gluten food. I mean would anyone not gluten intolerant pay £3.50 for a packet of Oreos?? No is the straight answer.
When I was first diagnosed I panicked buy. I bought everything down the free from section in the supermarket and spent a fortune! However I soon discovered (much to my delight) that there were what I would class as normal products (I mean not labelled gluten free or in the free from isle) that I could purchase at a reasonable price and enjoy like I always had. For example Heinz Tomato Ketchup is suitable for coeliacs.
Since this discovery I’ve learnt that there are loads of ‘normal’ products that don’t contain gluten or make me poorer as a result. With the Christmas season approaching and money becomes tight I wanted to share how you can, I repeat how you can, do gluten free living on a budget – and here’s how:
– Set a food budget – seems obvious but if you’ve set a food shopping budget each week, you know how much you’ve got to spend.
– Join Coeliac UK, and download their app on your mobile phone it’s amazing – you can scan products when you’re in the isle of the supermarket and it tells you whether it’s suitable to eat. Even though labelling of allegens is much clearer now it’s still piece of mind that it’s OK to eat.
– Plan meals in advance so you know what food you need to buy, particulary when using fresh fruits and vegetables.
– Consider online delivery food shops – it means you don’t put things in your trolley you don’t need, saves on fuel and you know how much you’re spending as you go along so can take items out of your trolley if you’re over spending.
– Stock up on a variety of flours. I have Doves plain, rice, self raising and cornflour. I also keep potato and tapioca flour too. You’ll be amazed how much you use them – particulary for thickening sauces.
– Consider baking your own bread, cakes and treats. You can’t beat home cooked cakes and simple vanilla cupcakes and cookies are easy to make and taste yummy.
– Buy supermarket own branded products (obviously check they are gluten free by scanning with your app or checking the label). You can pick up a number of own branded cereal for a fraction of the cost of gluten free ones. Sainsburys Rice Pops are suitable for coeliacs (even though it contains barley malt, it’s small enough to be safe). At £1.60 that’s a bargain and taste yummy too.
– Purchase gluten free specific products when they are on offer or reduced. I picked up some gluten free bread the other day which was reduced (due to sell by date) to £1. I just popped it in the freezer and take it out when I need it.
– Finally when you’re out and about take your own food with you. It means that you won’t starve and helps to look after the pennies.
If anyone has any other gluten free budget tips then please share.