Gosh, that title holds SO much information, I cannot cover it all. BUT, I will try to let you into my world and show you just how I feed my family (non-gfree) and myself (gfree) on a “budget,” and want to *disclaimer* here that I am still tweaking said budget to find the right amount where we still save but are able to purchase gfree items (that tend to be more costly). For the past few weeks, I have been busting my budget, trying to switch my pantry over, but this week I worked pretty hard to find deals and save more money. My current budget had been raised to $60 a week prior to my gluten-free “switch.” Last week, I spent $100 (yikes! I felt so bad about this!), but this week I was able to get it down to $80. Small steps, my friends! But I am excited for getting my gfree budget under control.
Okay, lets get started! :)
First off, I meal plan. Period. I never have a week where there are not at least 5 but most of the time 6 meals planned. I have a meal planning calendar (a calendar picked up in the $1 section at Target ;) that hangs on our pantry door where all our food is stored that lists daily dinner plans. Lunch is not planned because Jael eats like 5x a day, Joseph packs his lunch, and I shamefully will admit that lunch is not always a priority for me. Working on it, but dinner has been the biggest cost, so I plan it out.
I also must say here that going gluten free has really opened my eyes to nutrition and to learning what is good for my body (and my family’s too). It really holds me accountable to eat healthier, portion my food, and read labels. You wouldn’t believe how much junk is in the “healthy” stuff sold at grocery stores. So, saying this, it makes it easier to meal plan because it simplifies my ingredients. Instead of eating breaded chicken or pre-seasoned fish fillets, I purchase plain meat and season it myself (to ensure the exclusion of gluten-ous substances). This makes things cheaper and easier. Instead of being able to grab something fast food because I don’t feel like cooking, I am forced to cook what I have planned because I don’t have the luxury of a burger and fries anymore. Believe me, it SUPER stinks sometimes, but it is well worth it. The weight I am losing and the way I feel overshadows the craving for a Sonic Burger. :) But I can have a Coke which is gluten-free. yay. :) And fruit (or veggies) is always a nice refreshing snack that is naturally gluten-free. I have been addicted to refrigerated oranges and grapefruits. yum.
Anyway, on to my gluten-free on a budget. As I stated before, eating simple ingredients costs less. So when I have baked chicken only seasoned by salt and pepper, with a side of steamed veggies and rice, this is both cheap and naturally gluten free. Sure, doing this at first may seem bland and boring, but as you get used to not eating foods containing gluten (and getting them out of your house), you’ll be able to venture out more. Another thing I do regarding meal planning is that I take old family favorites of ours and just modify them. Since Joseph and I already eat pretty healthy, this wasn’t very hard since most of the recipes I have contained naturally gluten-free foods (with an average of two ingredients needing modification to gluten-free). Since gluten was modestly sneaking into our foods prior to my life change, this was how I was being “glutened” on a regular basis. Some examples of ingredients that need to be modified: seasonings, salad dressings, pre-seasoned meats, sauces, pasta, bread, etc. There are FAR more, but those are some examples.
Another thing I have been working on to be more budget friendly is to work harder on getting the foods containing gluten that my husband eats at a lower price. Fortunately, these foods consistently have a plethora of coupons available, so this isn’t hard. I have also been working on getting non-food items (cleaning supplies, toiletries, diapers, etc.) at lower and lower prices (or even free!). This gives me more money to work with since I can now spend it on items that I cannot get at rock-bottom prices (gluten-free items are expensive sometimes and not too often have coupons available). So lets say that 30% of my grocery budget is for non-food items. If I can get this down to 10-15%, I have an extra 15-20% of my budget to use on items that are going to cost a bit more. And that is a good thing :)
I also make sure my dear hubby knows that gfree treats are off limits. :) Of course, I say this with a smile, lol, but he is aware that unless I offer a gfree cookie, he isn’t allowed into my gfree snack stash. I am not trying to be a stinker here, but if we share all the gfree snacks and meal ingredients and then they’re gone, I have nothing, but he still has the gluten-containing ingredients and snacks. Not fair. So, with just one person eating the gfree cookies, meal bars, bread, etc., they last longer. And that saves money. :)
I am sure I will have more to say on this topic, as I am determined to be the gluten-free savings and couponing super mom…okay, that was slightly exaggerating…but only slightly ;) But I am determined to make this new life change (diet) work with my savings. I don’t have a lot of money, so its important to our family.
Here are a few deals I got this week that you can get too! (Some of these items are not on sale, but are the cheapest price I have found for the item so far.)
Strawberries, sale 4/$5…in Az, sale 2/$3 (produce tends to vary by region)
House Foods tofu, 2 @ sale 99¢/ea
Rudi’s Gluten-Free bread, sale 2/$7
Glutino GFree Candy Bar, 5pk, $4.79 – $1/1 Glutino = $3.79
Chēbē GFree Cinnamon Roll Mix, sale $2.29
CLIF Gfree breakfast bar, 2 @ sale 99¢/ea
Pirates Booty, 2 @ $2.69/ea (Tom Thumb/Safeway and most other grocers I have seen sell this for $2.99…score!)
Bell peppers (all colors), 2 @ sale 99¢/ea
Walgreens – No Gfree ideas here, but I was excited for the savings… ;)
Transaction 1: Bic Soleil 3 pk razors, sale $5.99 receive $2 in Register Rewards = $3.99 – $3/1 coupon = 99¢
Transaction 2: Blue Diamond almonds, sale $3.59 and Buy One Get One Free – $2 Register Reward from previous transaction = $1.59 – 75¢/2 coupon = 84¢
Total Spent at Walgreens: $4.08
Total Savings at Walgreens: $10.84
Once I receive the bread maker I previously wrote about, I will be able to make my own bread, cinnamon rolls, etc. for cheaper than buying brand name gfree bread. This will also save me money!
I hope this shed a little light on how to live gfree on a budget. Believe me, I have had SO much support with this, many friends who have helped me learn the ropes, given suggestions and recipes, and just prayed for me. It helps to have someone who knows what you’re going through! If you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me! :)
How do you save money? Do you have any dietary/health needs that require you to be strategic with your grocery shopping? Any tips not mentioned here? Please share! :)