I had a friend message me a couple weeks back asking how I afforded to eat the way I eat. It’s a great question! For sure most products advertised as being gluten-free cost more than the products they imitate. And certainly organic gets expensive. But I believe that eating healthy (and gluten-free) is possible with any budget. Here are a few tips that have worked for me.
- Find a farmer’s market near you that is open at a time you can go, and get the majority of your produce from there. Eating seasonally and locally when it comes to produce can really help drive down the cost. Also, plan on putting a good chunk of your budget here… it is worth it. Stock up on dark leafy greens that will fill you up and give you lots of nutrients. Talk to the farmers at the market too. While not all of them can afford to be certified organic, many are still pesticide free. And it’s just nice to talk to them.
- Shop sales and coupons. I rarely go into a grocery store with a list. I find what is on sale that fits in my lifestyle and I focus on that. I also focus way more on purchasing nuts and nut butters with my budget than on pastas or other grains. Always be on the lookout for protein powder on sale if you are as obsessed with smoothies as I am. And stock up on cheap staples like beans, frozen fruit (when on sale), and frozen vegetables.
- Buy from the bulk department. especially with rice/quinoa/nuts (DON’T DO THIS IF YOU HAVE A SEVERE INTOLERANCE as cross-contamination is somewhat inevitable). And don’t forget POPCORN (perhaps the only reason I refuse to be completely grain-free).
- Purchase flours online (swanson and amazon are both great resources for this).
- Cook from scratch, and avoid prepackaged gluten-free products. It is a little more time consuming, but cheaper and almost always healthier. Stick with simple meals, or set aside an afternoon to cook a big dish of something you can freeze/store for the week. Curries are great for this.
- Make breakfast for dinner. This was a recommendation by karina allrich, aka the gluten free goddess, and I love it. You can get wonderful fresh local eggs from the farmer’s market for $3.50 or less a dozen. Breakfast is filling and delicious and, budget put aside, one of my favorite things to have for dinner.
- Choose to spend more on your grocery budget and cut something elsewhere. It is that important! We generally go out to eat less than once a week. We find a free show at a coffeeshop versus going to a ten dollar movie (supporting local AND saving money). Those little budget savers can make a huge difference in your grocery budget.
What are your strategies for staying on budget when it comes to food? I know there are many more creative solutions out there!
Also, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, how do you connect community and food?