Gluten free products can be expensive! How do you keep your grocery budget from climbing sky high?
Amy: I rarely buy GF products! I make simple meals which don’t call for substitutes!
Jen: I don’t buy many products that are labeled “gluten free.” I use arrowroot powder as a thickener and sometimes flour replacement, have used seed and nut flours for the occasional “bread” treat, and try to get the most out of everything I purchase. Sometimes calculating the cost of individual meals can be really eye-opening and helps me make the most out of a small budget.
Cara: Squash, squash, squash 😉 Stay away from pricey packaged items, they’re usually not that healthy anyway.
Emily: I buy very little special GF products. I buy flours bulk from co-ops. I search blogs for GF recipes. Some are very good about inexpensive recipes. Lastly, I shop at specialty stores: sweet rice flour is much less expensive at the asian market than at the health food store.
Michele: Don’t buy all those packaged product just because they’re gluten-free. Find whole foods that are already naturally gluten-free (such as produce, beans, meats, dairy, GF grains, etc), and build your meals around those. Focus on purchasing bulk items inexpensively, and create delicious meals. Don’t try to replace every gluten item (such as sandwich bread) with an identical gluten-free substitute! (This is the best frugal advice a friend gave me, when I decided to go gluten-free.)
Liz: I rarely buy gluten-free processed/pre-made foods. Unless I am craving a certain sweet treat, there’s no reason to buy these expensive products. I buy simple whole foods (and organic at that), and my grocery bill stays low. I also buy certain staples in bulk: beans, hemp seeds, quinoa and other grains that I put in my freezer until needed.
Kat: I stopped buying gluten-free products and stuck to whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. When you get away from buying prepared foods you will end up saving. Not eating out anymore I am actually spending less money on food than I used to. I am amazed that people will pay 20$ for one portion at a restaurant. I see that 20$ as more than I would have to spend for a really nice cut of meat and some expensive organic vegetables that I could prepare at home. I don’t have a food budget. I am conscious of buying cheap cuts of meat, buying in bulk, and not wasting anything. I don’t drink alcohol which ends up saving me quite a lot. But, I don’t keep track of how much I spend on food. Food is one of my top priorities. I tend to cut back on things like cellphones, cable TV, internet, cars, entertainment and trips, before sacrificing the quality foods I buy.
Rachel: I try to go with out or make it myself…I do not NEED GF bread there are other things for lunch. Desserts can be altered to be GF quite easily. If I need to have something store bought that is GF free I try to wait til it goes on sale or find a coupon online. Mostly I make meals that are naturally GF: Taco salad, grilled meat, veggies and potatoes, homemade soups, stir fry over rice, loaded baked potatoes… Like I said before it is more about changing the way i think about food
How has a gluten free diet changed your lifestyle?
In other words….how do you deal with eating at restaurants or in another person’s home? How do you deal with kids eating at school/church?
Amy: It often means I have to order more expensive items on a menu which is annoying. When I eat at other peoples homes I tell them in advance. Otherwise I just eat around what has gluten in it and make do!
Jen: I try to research the menu before I go and figure out what entree will have the least-worst impact on my body. I’ve come to parties a little late if I doubt there will be healthy food there, and fill my family with good food before we leave so we aren’t so tempted.
Cara: I warn people that I’ll bring separate food for my daughter when they invite us over. I think a lot of people are afraid to have us over to eat, but we can find other non-food-related things to do instead. You just do what you have to do. When it comes down to it, I realize that it’s offensive to some people that we eat differently, but eating ‘regular’ food makes my child sick, so I’m not willing to compromise that.
Emily: I will always bring a dish that I can eat at a pot-luck. People generally know I have diet restrictions so they often ask what they can make or what they should avoid. I usually stick with simple suggestions like tacos but warn to look at the seasoning package for wheat or a stir fry and I’ll offer to bring the wheat-free tamari sauce. You can’t go wrong with grilling.
Michele: Our church has been incredible in loving our family, by providing gluten-free items when possible (including communion, VBS snacks, etc). If this is a change that needs to be made in your community, I recommend starting it yourself! 🙂
Liz: I have learned that I have to communicate my needs and expectations to others. This means having a clear conversation with them about what they will be serving at their home/function, and what I would be able to eat. If they just don’t get it, or don’t have an interest in accommodating me, it’s better to understand this beforehand. Most people show a great interest and concern and want to go out of their way to have something allergen-free for me. However, I always (and I mean always) bring food with me when I leave home knowing I won’t be back for a few hours. That’s because I never know where I may end up and don’t want to be starving if there are no gluten-free options. So, a snack bar, some veggies, chips, fruit and nut bar, etc. are my go-to’s.
Kat: I have often gone to restaurants with friends and not ordered anything. I sit there enjoying the company and conversations. No one has ever commented that it’s weird. When eating at another person’s home I always offer to bring something for myself and to share with others as well. I have some close friends who know how to prepare a meal I can eat, but I still ask ahead of time to make sure. I also try coming up with different ideas for social gathering. Sports leagues, having a picnic at the park or beach, or going to a movie, there are lots of other activities to do with friends.
Rachel: Going GF does make eating a more conscience event. It has caused us to eat at home more often and cook from scratch. When we do go out it is usually a planned event(going on line to look up menu) or a repeat visit to some place that we know has GF options. If we are invited to another families house I offer to bring something that I know i can have and ask what is being served to know if i need to eat something before hand. Also,if I know the family well enough I tell them of our allergies and offer suggestions that we can have, or offer to bring the main dish. For my kids at church I pack something they can have or buy a box of crackers that is left in the Sunday school room from week to week.
How do you explain your gluten sensitivity or celiac to others?
Katie: I let them know my kids have Celiac disease. Most people don’t know what that is so I explain it like an allergy to wheat since most people understand that.
Amy: I now tell people I am allergic to gluten.
Jen: I simply tell people that I’ve been avoiding grains and starches and feeling much improved because of it. They think I’m crazy, but aren’t about to tell me that I *should* be eating something that makes me sick. I get some strange looks, but it is usually an opportunity to share the truth about real food!
Michele: To most strangers/acquaintances, I usually say, “Thanks, but we have some food allergies, so don’t worry about providing a meal (or whatever).” For people that are more interested in the details, I will explain further that “We can’t have gluten,” and answer any questions they have.
Liz: I explain that most people have food sensitivities and allergies, but many people don’t know. However, I found out that I cannot tolerate certain foods and in eliminating these foods, I put my disease into remission. I also explain that the more often we eat a food, the better chances we are of developing an allergy. So, because our culture consumes wheat and gluten like there’s no tomorrow, our bodies become sensitive to it.
Kat: I used to not explain it very well to others. I was extremely confused when I was sick because doctors could never tell me what was wrong. I’m sure I confused my friends a lot when I would switch my diet around too! Now I just use the term “allergy” a lot. I have a food allergy, or I’m allergic to wheat. I use the term “Celiac” as well, but it seems many people have never heard of it and so I usually have to explain it.
Rachel: I tell them that we are allergic to wheat and other gluten. I tell them a little of what will happen if I do have gluten. I reassure them that life is not awful without gluten and have them look at me for reassurance that going GF is not starving me! That in fact I feel better when I don’t eat wheat!
The final few questions and answers will be posted tomorrow!
You can also check out all of the posts from the week we focused on wheat and gluten:
The Silent Cause to Poor Health – a fabulous, everyone should listen to podcast
The Transition to Gluten Free – a guest post by Kat from SCDKat.com
Gluten Free Easily – a guest post from Shirley of GFE
Gluten Free Beauty – a guest post by Kristen of Gluten Free Beauty
Gluten, Grains, and Children with Developmental Issues – guest post by Cara or Health, Home, Happiness