If you suddenly develop celiac disease or choose to cut gluten from your diet, then you might be surprised by how much money you may have to spend to keep up with this new lifestyle. There are lots of high-cost gluten-free items on the market, so if you’re looking to save money you might actually feel totally overwhelmed by it all. Of course, this can be made worse if you are saying goodbye to some of your favorite foods. These ten tips will help you make the transition a bit easier while allowing you to easily maintain your budget, so you won’t have to stress more over your new diet.
1. Read the Label
One of the most important things you can learn to do when you have an allergen is to read the label. This can help prevent allergic reactions from occurring, but it can also help you to find items that might not be advertised free of the item you’re trying to avoid. Companies due have to label when their items are exposed to common allergens as well, so you will spot if the item is exposed even if there is no gluten in the ingredients. You may be surprised how many companies do provide gluten-free products that are safe for you even if the item isn’t clearly marked gluten-free.
2. Ditch Processed Foods
Although you might feel sad to say goodbye to pasta and bread, this might be the wake-up call you need to step away from processed foods. Finding these items will be quite a bit pricier so instead of going with your go-to processed items, think outside of the box. You might find yourself making your favorite foods at home with some alternatives, but overall, it will be a healthier move overall.
3. Shop Raw
When it comes to shopping safely for your new dietary needs, one of the best things you can do is shop raw. Instead of purchasing boxed or canned goods, you might begin planning your daily menu around the produce and meat sections. You won’t have to worry about these items containing gluten and consuming a diet that is largely made only of these items can be very healthy. You might worry about the price tag here, but if you consider the price of a bag of potatoes and how far the bag can take your meals, you might be surprised by how much this can save you when you compare it to the price tag of gluten-free products on the market.
4. Skip Restaurants
If you’re looking for something quick and simple to satisfy your needs, then you’re probably going to find yourself putting in more effort than it is actually worth. Most restaurants are going to have some form of gluten in their products. Cuisine from most countries is going to be packed with gluten because it is so easy to come by. Even restaurants that do offer gluten-free items tend to charge a small fortune for them and the portion is generally much smaller. For instance, Dominos offers a gluten-free pizza that tends to not qualify for deals and only comes in a size small. Many of these restaurants also have to add in disclaimers that warn their food is prepared in an environment with gluten and can’t exactly be consumed safely if you have extreme allergies. So, unless you find a restaurant that specializes in gluten-free and won’t cost you a fortune, you might decide to skip out on restaurants as much as you possibly can.
5. Know How to Order
If you do find yourself going to a restaurant, then you might make sure you know how to order to ensure you’re going to get gluten-free options. Often, your waiter and the kitchen staff won’t know what you can’t have, so you have to be very clear. If you try to play it safe with a salad, then you may need to skip out on dressings that aren’t vinaigrette and croutons are a definite no. If you do find these items on your plate, then you will have to send the item back. One of the best things you can do is go for a plate that only serves meat and vegetables. As long as the meat is not fried, and the vegetables are simply prepared you should be safe when it comes to exposure.
6. Shop Bulk
As you learn to make some of your favorite items gluten-free, you will discover the ingredients that you enjoy using to replace flour and other grains that you can no longer have. When you do find these items, you will also find that some of them aren’t exactly budget-friendly especially if you’re purchasing them from your local grocery store. However, there are many stores that allow you to purchase these items in bulk. Whenever you can buy these items in bulk, you absolutely should. Even if you’re not using them frequently, it will help you save money over time, which is always useful. It will also allow you to always have them on hand so you can satisfy a craving with ease.
7. Look for Hidden Gluten
While you’re learning to read labels to find items that are safe to purchase, you might also consider learning a few of the terms that allow companies to sneak in gluten. This can be a real problem with some processed foods, but these are much easier to avoid than other products. For instance, did you know that gluten is widely used in some of the most common medications that we use? Before your doctor puts in an order for a new prescription, you might also ask for them to over an ingredient list. These names might not be easy to memorize, but you will learn them over time, so make sure to write them down and use the list often when shopping.
8. Research Recipes
As you begin to learn more about your needs and the food you would like to enjoy with your new dietary restriction, you might begin looking at recipes to help you create food that you will love. In fact, you can actually transform many of your favorite dishes into gluten-free options simply by swapping up the grain you choose to use. There are a lot of amazing recipes online though, so you might start by searching for your household’s staples and your favorite dishes. Once you get the hang of things, you might want to work on some new options so you can keep your diet fresh and exciting.
9. Plan Ahead
No matter what your diet is, planning ahead can save you a whole lot of money. However, if you’re going gluten-free, planning can be crucial when it comes to affordability. Try to plan for a week or two of meals. This will allow you to have a menu that will work with your groceries, so there will be less food waste. You might also consider doing meal prep so that you have everything you need for meals outside of the home too. Shopping ahead will allow you to research pricing and find the coupons that you are eligible for, so you can get more out of your shopping experience.
10. Consider Farmer’s Markets
If you’re looking to save money or get more variety from your community, then you might consider heading to a farmer’s market. You might be surprised by the price of produce and meat that you can find, which will help ease the burden of your diet while also allowing you to get fresh and tasty items to enjoy. You never know, a lot of specialty shops also start at the farmer’s market. So, you might be able to find gluten-free options that help to ease your cravings while allowing you to feel good about your new diet.
Going gluten-free might be a stressful experience, but you don’t have to feel alone in it. These ten tips will help you to make good decisions when it comes to your diet and your budget. After you get the hang of your gluten-free diet, you might even find that you’re enjoying your new lifestyle.