Gluten Free Without Breaking the Bank

Here’s a fun fact anybody who follows a gluten free diet is well aware of: living gluten free is expensive. It just is. No matter which way you slice it, a life free of beloved wheat, rye and barley is not only more difficult but it absolutely kills your wallet.

Since most of us gluten free folks try to minimize our meals out as to avoid cross-contamination and accidental “glutening”, we find ourselves frantically searching the aisles of our local grocery store for gluten free ingredients to prepare our own meals at home. And as the cashier rings us up at the check-out line, we sigh and take out our debit cards, nostalgic for the days of buy-one get-one-free loaves of bread and crackers that cost less than $5 per box.

So what can we do about it? What can we eat that keeps us healthy and doesn’t break the bank?

First, start with the basics: meat, fruits and veggies. All three of these things are naturally gluten free, and staples of a healthy diet anyway! Sure, it may cost a little more to purchase fruit than a box of Oreos, but in the long run your body will thank you and you won’t find yourself getting sick anymore. Meat is a staple of gluten free living in our household. We always have chicken, ground beef and shrimp in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice for a night of grilling or homemade tacos! (With corn tortillas, of course!)

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You know what else is naturally gluten free? Nuts, eggs and cheese. Looking for a quick snack but not willing to splurge on a $6 box of gluten free crackers? No problem; buy yourself a bag of nuts. Grab yourself some fresh cheese and pop a few cubes whenever you need a snack. Cook up some scrambled eggs in the morning for a quick and delicious gluten free breakfast.

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For those times when you are really craving some delicious carbs, don’t shy away from using coupons! The sting of a $5 bag of bread or $6 box of muffins (4 per pack) won’t hurt quite as much when you can save a buck or two by simply using a coupon. Sign up for emails and promotions from some of the best gluten free companies out there like Rudis, Udi, and Glutino all offer coupons for email subscribers!

Grab a big bag of gluten free flour and prep your favorite snacks from scratch! There are some awesome gluten free flours out there, but many have a price tag to match. (Cup 4 Cup, I’m talking about you) I’ve had some of my best luck with brands like Pamela’s and Bob’s Red Mill. These can easily be substituted for regular flour in almost any recipe and don’t carry the hefty price tag that others do. Not sure what to whip up? Check out Pinterest for some fantastic gluten free recipe inspiration or start following a few gluten free blogs online.
When you really want some delicious processed gluten free food (and let’s face it, we all crave it from time to time), try shopping online. Vitacost.com regularly offers some amazing deals on gluten free products and every order over $50 ships for free. Do yourself a favor and get yourself an Amazon Prime account and enjoy the benefits of free 2-day shipping every time you order some gluten free goodies.

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I won’t sugar coat it for you: you absolutely will spend more money living a gluten free lifestyle. Your friend’s hamburger will almost inevitably cost lot less than the salad you ordered because nothing else on the menu was gluten free. So cook at home as much as you can, saving you the frustration of pricey gluten free menus or places where you might get accidently glutened. And try some of these money saving tricks next time you hit up your local grocery store!

Wegmans is my Gluten Free Heaven

If you’ve ever read a blog post by me before, you know that I am from Buffalo, NY. Sure, I may live in Mississippi now, but I was born and raised a “Yankee”. This past week, I had the opportunity to head back home for a business trip and extend it for the weekend so I could visit with my family. I am fortunate to travel to many cities for work, but heading home is one of the best benefits of all! Especially since the food in Buffalo, NY is SO SO SO good!

I will sum up this past weekend in seven words: Wine, Chicken Wings, Wegmans, Gluten Free Beer… After this weekend, I am starting to wonder what else you could possibly need in life.

It started Friday night with an innocent trip to Wegmans. I mean, the store WAS right next to the place we intended to have dinner at, so a short trip wouldn’t hurt anybody. Plus my Mother in Law was visiting with me and she had never visited the greatness that is Wegmans before. Well, was she in for a surprise. In my younger days, Wegmans was the norm for me. It was the ONLY grocery store that I shopped at. It was friendly, “homey” and delicious; why would I need to visit anywhere but there?

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Then I moved to Mississippi four years ago. Since then, I have experienced grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, the brightly light aisles of Kroger, and even Fresh Market. But none of those places compare to the shopping experience at Wegmans. With its chalk-board signs and home-like dim lighting, as soon as you walk through the doors you immediately feel welcome. Then, you head through the incredible fresh market area, with fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and deli meat, as you make your way towards the Organic and Gluten Free section.

Now when I say “section”, I mean a Gluten Free section FIVE TIMES the size of the one at my local Kroger (at least). I mean so many options that you have NEVER EVEN HEARD OF to choose from. I mean gluten free mixes and pastas specially made by Wegmans at prices so LOW you’ll think you’re dreaming. (Gluten Free pasta for 1.29?!!! I was in Heaven!)

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*sigh*

*sigh*

I was so overwhelmed that I had to walk both Gluten Free aisles and the frozen Gluten Free section three times before deciding to purchase items. When I did finally make a decision, I threw so many things in my basket that I started to worry about how I would get them all back to Mississippi. (Don’t worry, I had packed an extra duffel bag, just in case).

Frozen Gluten Free Foods - at least part of the section!  Crazy!

Frozen Gluten Free Foods – at least part of the section! Crazy!

And Wegmans even makes their own Gluten Free products including pasta, cake, brownie, cookie and cornbread mixes!

Wegmans Gluten Free Awesomeness

Wegmans Gluten Free Awesomeness

By the end of the trip, I had ended up with the following items: Glutino Strawberry Toaster Pastries (2 boxes), Sam Mills Corn-Based Gluten Free Pasta (3 boxes), Wegmans GF Sugar Cookie Mix, Wegmans GF Spaghetti Noodles (3 Packages), Wegmans GF Cornbread Mix, Crunchmaster Cheezy Crisps, Tonya’s GF Kitchen Original Soft Pretzels, Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels, Glutino Chocolate Covered Gluten Free Pretzels, Mi-Del GF Pie Crust, Glutenfreeda Granola Cereal/Snack, Glutino Cornbread Stuffing Mix, and Glutino GF Pretzels. Seriously – I packed ALL of that stuff and carried it back to Mississippi with me. That is how excited I was!

Heaven in a Basket

Heaven in a Basket

To make a long story short, if you live in a city with a Wegmans, I am now so jealous of you it is unbelievable. When I lived in Buffalo, I didn’t even realize what I was taking for granted before. Enjoy every shopping moment that you have in that incredible store!

For those of you who live in Mississippi, don’t worry – our day will come. Though I am not exactly holding my breath until then….