Six Tips To Eating Gluten and Dairy-Free Without Breaking The Bank

1. Define your grocery budget.
No matter what kind of eating plan you follow, EVERYONE should have a spending plan for buying groceries.  If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.  Before you lay out your hard earned cash for food,  you need to PLAN ahead before you go to the store.  When you are making your grocery list and reviewing your budgeted amount for groceries you need to be thinking about what you need on your list that is gluten free, dairy free or other types of foods that you will need to replace.  We budget about $400 a month for groceries for our household and out of that I spend about $150 a month on gluten- and dairy-free items.

2.  Shop Smarter Not Harder

Know where the deals are!  Don’t spend all your time hopping from store to store searching for the best deals or just looking for the special foods that you need.   Most grocery stores have websites these days, use those to your advantage ahead of time.   Check out those sites and see what they have available to you based on your needs.  A lot of stores also have specialty sections for gluten-free, dairy-free or other non-allergenic foods.  Save yourself some time and know where those are.  I also keep a price book for my specialty foods.  I list the store, what I bought, what aisle it was on and how much it costs.  This way I can go back later and price match future purchases and keep track of past prices compared to current ones.  This helps me to know if I am getting a good deal.

3.  Buy In Bulk

There are SO many benefits to buying in bulk.  If you shop smarter, with bulk buying you will save money, keep a well stocked pantry and shop less often.  Shop at your local health food stores.  We have a really great little family-owned health food store in my area that I love.  They offer bulk bin shopping for things like nuts and nutritional yeast and if I want to order something by the case like dairy-free yogurt they give me a nice discount on my order.  You can also shop online for your bulk items too.  I often shop at Amazon for my gluten-free rice, tapioca, corn and potato flours that I use to make my gluten-free flour blend.

4.  Knowing Good Substitutes For Gluten and Dairy

There are LOTS of options out there for gluten and dairy replacements in your meals and recipes.  Gluten flours can be replaced with rice, oat, bean and nut flours.  There are tons of gluten-free pastas, dessert mixes, cookie and brownie mixes, chips, crackers and more available.  Aldi is a GREAT place to find gluten-free options for your favorite foods.  Dairy lovers can replace milk with plant-based milk like almond (my favorite), cashew, soy, rice.  Nutritional yeast gives dishes a really nice cheesy flavor.  When combined with other ingredients you can make dairy-free cheese sauces and dairy-free parmesan cheese.

5.  Focus On Whole Foods

So many foods are naturally dairy and gluten free that you can have a really great diet with a wide variety of good food just by focusing on eating whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods.  Processed foods contains a lot of unnecessary ingredients that our bodies don’t need, especially gluten because it is used as a stabilizer in a lot of processed foods.  Instead focus on things like chicken, lean red meats, fruits and vegetables, rice, gluten-free oats, potatoes, quinoa, dairy-free milks and cheeses.  Your body will thank you.

6.  Save Money By Making Your Own Convenience Foods

Take the time to learn how to cook and bake gluten and dairy-free.  So much money is wasted on prepackaged foods.  This is just as much of a problem, if not more so, for someone who has food restrictions.  Gluten free baking like cookies, breads and , snacks and desserts can be super tricky, but it is worth the time and effort to learn how to make these items yourself instead of purchasing expensive prepackaged versions.  Not only will you save money, you will avoid the added unhealthy chemicals and preservatives that a lot of these foods have.  

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