OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

Living Gluten Free on a Budget - January 2018

How to stay on a gluten free diet without breaking the bank

By Cathy Lauer

Gluten-free shopping list

You have been on your gluten free diet for a while now and you are feeling so much better you cannot believe you didn’t change your diet years ago. It’s such a simple fix. You also notice that your grocery budget doesn’t go as far as it used to. Living gluten free can take a big bite out of your budget but there are ways of making that budget go further if you know where to shop and what to look for.

One of the biggest budget breakers is fresh baked breads and other baked goods. Also, some of the packaged stuff really just doesn’t taste good and has little or no fibre or nutrition. There are some new brands on the market and their baked goods are not too bad if you are looking for the starchy white bread taste, but for those of us who prefer home baked flavour there is really nothing better than home baked. Don’t roll your eyes or tremble in fear. Baking gluten free at home is not all that daunting with so many good flour mixes out there and recipes galore. In a couple of hours you can have bread, muffins and cookies for the week that will be healthy, nutritious, tasty and less expensive than if you had bought them premade.

If you are new to gluten free, find someone who is comfortable baking gluten free, whose baking you like, and ask what they do. Maybe they will share recipes or even teach you how to bake gluten free. Gluten free bakeries have also sprouted up in a number of towns and cities. Many offer good products at a reasonable price with a quality much better than what you get prepackaged in the store. Beware of bakeries who offer “gluten free” along side wheat breads and pastries. The chances of cross contamination are high and you may be setting yourself up to get sick.

Gluten free pasta can be another big budget breaker and is often a challenge for people to get used to after wheat pasta. Before rice pasta became as good as it is today we ate Chinese rice noodles and rice sticks. Most oriental aisles carry a wide variety of shapes and sizes of rice noodles and bean thread. They are very inexpensive and some only need soaking in boiled water so they are ready very quickly. We have always liked rice noodles and as long as they are not over cooked they are a great pasta substitute and easy on the budget. Corn pasta has also improved over the years and several varieties and brands are available. They are more expensive than Chinese rice noodles but a little less than brown rice pasta. I always stock up when they come on sale.

Speaking of sales, most health food stores have a health club or even a gluten free club you can join. My health food store offers 20% off on the last Wednesday of every month. I like to stock up on pasta, pretzels and specialty flours that I use to add fibre or nutrition to baking. Some stores offer a special discount to gluten free shoppers after you buy a certain number of gluten free items. Check with your favourite health food store to find out what they have to offer.

Many regular grocery stores also offer a club card that allows you to save money on individual items or to collect points which can be redeemed for store gift certificates. One of my favourite stores allows me to choose a daily special. I can buy up to four of the item of my choice at a reduced price. My favourite item to buy is yeast as I can get more than $2.00 off each jar. That really helps reduce the cost of homemade baking.

If you are unsure of where to shop or what to buy try taking a store tour. Many stores now offer store tours directed by a knowledgeable person who either works at the store or has a great knowledge of a special diet. If you are lucky enough to live in Victoria you will find many grocery stores, markets and health food stores who offer gluten free tours. These are of great help to the newly diagnosed who are overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to navigate the aisles alone. Contact your local Canadian Celiac Association chapter to find out what they know about store tours. They are often the ones delivering the gluten free tour.

My favourite saying is “shop the perimeter of the store”. Most stores are set up with the meat, fruits and vegetables and deli on the outside walls of the store. It is the aisles in the center of the store that contain the name brand and usually off limit foods. Since we should try to eat as much fresh, real food as possible the perimeter really is the most sensible and economical place to shop. That’s not to say I never venture into the middle aisles because naturally I do have to if I need noodles or items down the baking aisle. There are aisles however that I just never go down as they either have nothing gluten free, the gluten free stuff they have is just too darned expensive, or really doesn’t taste good.

As always be sure to read the label. It isn’t a bargain if you get it home only to find out it really isn’t gluten free, has other ingredients in it which you cannot have, or chemical ingredients you don’t want. Labels are getting so much better and the more you know about ingredients the better able you will be to spot the safe products and avoid the unsafe ones.

As with most new ventures, being budget conscious on a gluten free diet may take some time to master. With a little practice and support from knowledgeable friends and fellow celiacs you too can become a healthy gluten free shopper without blowing the budget. Why not use the savings to buy yourself a treat! That’s important too!

Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email

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