One of the questions that I get asked most frequently in regards to Coeliac disease and a gluten free diet is ‘How can I eat well but not spend a fortune?’ and as I have had years of experience, I thought I would give you some of my top tips for surviving Coeliac disease on a budget!
Being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease or finding out you are intolerant to gluten can be a daunting process and I don’t think people understand how difficult it really is until they go through it themselves. One of the most frustrating things about the whole process is how ridiculously expensive the Free From aisle can be! The jump between paying for ‘normal’ products and ‘Free From’ products Is enormous and you can go from paying 50p for a normal loaf of bread to up to £4 for a gluten free one! I have been victim to the Free From isle numerous times because I just can’t resist picking up the latest gluten free product to hit the shelves! Having said that, it IS possible to eat gluten free on a budget and here are my top tips with my top cheap meal ideas at the end.
1. Take advantage of reduced bread!
Most supermarkets reduce their gluten free bread in the evening of the day it’s due to go out of date. I’m always one to take advantage of this by visiting supermarkets around 6/7pm and stocking up on any reduced bread! I have picked up so many gluten free loafs of bread, sandwich thins, rolls, wraps and bagels for less than 50p just from visiting the supermarkets in the evening. I always stock up and keep them in the freezer meaning I don’t have to buy any of these products on a weekly basis, as I always have a freezer full. The supermarkets that I find best for reducing gluten free bread is Sainsbury’s and Asda and I have picked up numerous bargains!
2. Some of the cheaper supermarkets also have gluten free sections
Recently, some of the cheaper supermarkets in the UK such as Aldi and Lidl have introduced smaller gluten free sections too. These sections are often a lot cheaper than the bigger supermarkets and are definitely worth checking out. You can usually pick up gluten free pasta, bread and a few other goodies! It’s also worth checking the ‘offers’ section in these supermarkets as they often have a few gluten free products in these sections.
3. A lot of healthy food is naturally gluten free
Eating gluten free at home really isn’t as hard as it first seems as there are so much healthy foods that are naturally gluten free such as meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes etc. There are so many meals that you can make from naturally gluten free foods without even having to step into the Free From isle.
4. Not all of the Free From aisle is necessary
Don’t be taken for a fool! A lot of the products in the Free From aisle are already naturally gluten free! You will find various products such as pasta sauces in amongst the Free From isle which are being sold for more than double the normal price of pasta sauce. 99% of the time pasta sauce is gluten free anyway!
5. Plan your meals
This is something I have really gotten into lately that has helped me so much with cutting the cost of my food bill. Every week I will sit down and plan exactly what meals we will eat the following week which I will then use to write my shopping list. Once you have a set plan you will only need to go on one supermarket visit that week. Without planning my meals I can end up in the supermarket nearly every night of the week which is a great way to waste a lot of money!
6. Batch cook meals
Another way to save money on food is by batch cooking. If you are making a meal, it’s very easy to increase the quantities and make enough for 2 nights instead of 1. If I’m making a chilli, I will make sure I have enough for 2 nights in a row so that we can have 1 night with rice and 1 night with jacket potatoes. If I’m cooking a roast chicken, I will save half for the following day and make bubble and squeak. By doing this you can save money by cutting down on the amount of food you buy each week.
7. Bring homemade lunches to work
Finding gluten free lunch out can be tricky at the best of times, not to mention expensive. Gluten free sandwiches can cost up to £4 to buy in supermarkets which really adds up if you are buying lunch each day. I regularly bring my own lunch to work such as soup, gluten free homemade sandwiches, salads, or leftovers from dinner and this really helps to cut down on spending.
8. Make use of the free from events to bulk buy cheap products
Theres are so many great free from events, especially in the UK, which I love to take advantage of and bulk buy gluten free products whilst they are cheap. My favourite is the Allergy and Free From show which takes place once a year in London, Glasgow and Liverpool. You will find most of your favourite Free From brands there with fantastic discounted prices which is a great opportunity to bulk buy all of your cupboard essentials.
9. Buy supermarket own brand foods
We all have our favourite branded items that we buy on a weekly basis, but why not try out the supermarket own versions? They are often a fraction of the price of big brands and (most of the time) taste exactly the same. I try and buy as many supermarket own products as I can which really cuts down on my food bill.
10. Get crafty in the kitchen!
Don’t fork out cash for expensive products you could make yourself! Fancy some granola? Try making your own! Left over bananas? Make a banana cake. Sometimes you don’t realise how many ingredients you already have in the back of the cupboards so baking cakes for the week instead of buying treats from the free from isle can be cheaper!
So there you have it, my top tips for money saving on a gluten free diet. Here are some of my favourite reasonably priced meal ideas to make.
Chilli (click here for my recipe)
You will need: 500g beef mince, passata, chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes, kidney beans, green pepper, salt & black pepper, rice (cheese, tortillas and avocado optional extras)
Gluten free lasagne
You will need 500g beef mince, passata, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt & black pepper, free from white lasagne sauce, free from lasagne sheets (cheese optional extra).
Sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry (click here for my recipe)
You will need sweet potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, chopped tomatoes, curry powder, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, tomato paste, onion, garlic, rice. (Lime wedges, poppadoms and naan bread optional extras).
Jacket potatoes + your choice of filling! (who doesn’t love a trusty jacket potato)
You will need jacket potatoes, tuna, mayo, salad and sweetcorn (or toppings of your choice)
You will need risotto rice, chicken, chorizo, chicken stock, fresh parsley, peas, onion, tomato, garlic and lemon wedges.
Pork chops, apple and mash
You will need pork chops, cooking apple, mash potato and vegetables.
Fresh prawn pasta
You will need gluten free tagliatelle, prawns, tomato, spinach, chilli, lemon, garlic, olive oil and parsley.
Chicken, bacon and avocado burgers
You will need chicken breast, bacon, avocado, gluten free sandwich thins or rolls, sweet potatoes and salad.
Peachy pork chops
You will need pork chops, mash potato, peaches, rosemary, garlic and 1 shot whiskey!
You will need gluten free pasta, sausages, chopped tomatoes, passata, onion and veggies.
Chicken stir fry
You will need rice, chicken, 1 pack stir fry vegetables and 1 pack stir fry sauce (Tesco sell gluten free sauces)
You will need 250g beef mince, passata, chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, sweetcorn, gluten free pasta (garlic bread optional).
Sausages, mash and beans
You will need sausages, potatoes and baked beans.
You will need peppers, microwave rice, vegetables. (Meat and cheese optional extras)
Fajitas in lettuce wraps!
You will need lettuce, chicken, fajita seasoning, peppers, onion. (optional extras salsa, potatoes, guacamole, gluten free wraps)
Tuna and sweet potato salad
You will need tuna, sweet potato, salad, seasoning, salad dressing.
I hope this has given you some inspiration for meal ideas whilst on a budget! If you would like me to write up any of the recipes please let me know.