Feeding your family healthy foods while sticking to a budget can be difficult. It can be even harder and more expensive if members of your family have food sensitivities like gluten intolerance.
So let’s talk about how you can make cheap gluten free meals that feed your family wholesome, nutritious, gluten free meals on a budget. If you are looking for more budget recipes, I pulled some of my more popular gluten free budget recipes together.
There are so many ways to save money when you are gluten free. I pulled together my 17 best family-friendly gluten free budget recipes to help get you started.
If you are new to gluten free living, don't forget to check out all of my gluten free living tips. It is a very comprehensive guide for those who are new to gluten free!
Also, eggs have been getting more expensive. Here are some great egg substitutes for gluten free baking if you need some ideas.
Plan Your Meals Before Shopping
If you want to eat healthily and stay within your budget, meal planning is a great way to stay organized and save money. Take a look at what you currently have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Avoid food waste by paying special attention to any product and products that you might have that is close to going bad.
I love using the veggies in the back of the refrigerator. Try this easy Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe or this Garden Vegetable Shakshuka recipe. You can customize what veggies you use by what you have on hand!
Once you have a good idea of what you already have on hand, glance over the sales fliers of your local stores so that you don’t miss out on any great deals. Now you are ready to write down your meals for the week! Make a menu plan for each meal that your family eats at home for each day of the week.
I have hundreds of easy gluten free recipe ideas on the blog. You can search my blog to find lots of delicious gluten free recipes to make!
Shop With a List
Now that you have your meals planned out, you should be able to quickly jot down what you need from the store. Write a list before you head out and make sure that you stick to it.
Impulse buying (especially junk food) is frequently what makes us go over our grocery budget. Gather any coupons or load them to your shopper’s card before you leave the house. Many grocery stores have apps with their specials and coupons so don't forget to check those too!
Did you know many gluten free brands have coupons on their websites? I love to look up my favorites and download any coupons I find! (Some brands will send out a sample pack so you can try their products. Check out Schar because their box is always popular.)
Use an App To Find Deals
Use an app like The Gluten Free Scanner or Sift when grocery shopping to verify if a product is gluten free. These apps are NOT 100% fail-proof in locating gluten free products, but they can definitely guide you to the clear, obvious gluten-containing products.
If you dine or get takeout from restaurants, Find Me Gluten Free is the best app to look up restaurants in your area. Note the app doesn't tell you if a restaurant is safe and takes good gluten free precautions. You should always know what to look for when evaluating a restaurant. My Gluten Free Dining Tips can help!
Walmart has a ton of budget gluten free items including a cream of mushroom soup that is delicious. If you have Grocery Outlet nearby, this discount store has a ton of great gluten free options.
Cook at Home
You have planned your meals, and bought your groceries so there is no reason to eat out, right? Eating out for one or two people will cost you as much, or often more than feeding a family of four to six at home. You can consult my gluten free pantry guide to see what my favorite gluten free ingredients are to use in cooking and baking.
So that means if you are a family of four you could have prepared at least two meals at home, possibly more, for the same amount of money you are spending on going out for one meal.
You also have a lot more control over what goes into your meal when you are cooking at home. Many restaurants offer “gluten free” menu options, but they are very rarely prepared in a gluten free kitchen which can lead to cross-contamination.
Some of my favorite gluten free budget recipes are my gluten free fried chicken (use chicken legs for the most inexpensive version) and this delicious baked gluten free ziti casserole.
Buy Gluten Free Products in Bulk
Gluten free products usually come with a higher price tag than their gluten-containing counterparts. Some of these costs can be negated by buying gluten-free flour, baking mixes, and other products in bulk. You may be able to find bulk deals at your local retailers, but you might find the best deals online.
I LOVE getting things at Costco. Costco sells everything in bulk at a lower cost. They have a TON of gluten free foods. You can print out a shopping list of all of the gluten free foods at Costco. You will also find a lot of Costco easy appetizers for any entertaining needs.
*Note, when I say bulk, I mean in larger quantity. Do NOT shop for products in those bulk bins. They are full of cross-contamination!!
Focus on Whole Foods
Vegetables and whole foods can help you make cheap gluten free meals that will taste great.
Include a lot of whole foods in your meals that are naturally gluten free. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, eggs, meat, milk, yogurt, and most cheeses are naturally gluten free. Many brands of baked beans are also gluten free.. Try to pick fruits or vegetables that are in season so the cost will be lower, or purchase frozen instead of fresh.
If you have a local farmer’s market stop by and see what they have to offer and what their prices are. You can often get produce fresh off the farm for less than you would pay at the supermarket, and you are supporting a local business at the same time. (In these tough times when many farmer's markets are closed, you can often get a subscription box
Try planting a garden and growing some fresh vegetables and herbs. Here is a great tutorial to grow fresh herbs in your kitchen window. You can use fresh herbs in cooking to add so much flavor!
My kids love Jello, and it makes a really nice budget dessert.
Cook More Than You Need
When you are cooking meals for your family consider making more than just a single meal’s worth. You can cook more than you need so that you have leftovers that can be used for lunches later in the week, or prepare an additional casserole, soup, or stew and freeze it for an easy meal down the road.
Once you have a few freezer meals stashed away you never have to worry about what to feed the family on those busy nights when you don’t have time to cook a home-cooked meal.
Feeding your family healthy gluten free meals doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you make a meal plan before going to the store, buy in bulk where you can, and prepare most of your meals at home, you can keep costs down and still satisfy all of your family's food cravings.
Don't forget to check out all of my gluten free resources for the most up-to-date information on a lot of gluten free topics.
If you love the recipes you find on my blog, I would love for you to sign up for my newsletter (and get my free gluten free lemon dessert e-cookbook!)
This post was updated from an older July 2020 post with more tips.
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