Bread and pasta have always been my food weaknesses and indulgences. So imagine my dismay when a few months ago I discovered that I have an intolerance to gluten. I wanted to cry at the thought of never tasting warm, buttery bread or pasta with ooey, gooey cheese ever again.

I soon got over my pity party when I realized that there are acceptable and even delicious substitutes for regular breads and pastas. However, that feeling of deprivation and despair returned when I found out that the cost of gluten-free breads, pastas and most other gluten-free foods was practically double that of their evil wheat-laden enemies.

This revelation completely frustrated me and deflated the couponing high that I've been on for several months. I've saved tons of money on groceries this past year (with guidance from the Krazy Coupon Lady), so you can imagine my disappointment at the lack of coupons and savings for gluten-free items. Not all hope is lost for us penny-wise wheat-avoiders.

Here are some tips to help preserve your frugality and keep your digestive tract happy at the same time!

Buy in bulk.

Many gluten-free items are available for bulk purchase on merchant sites such as Amazon.com. I find this especially handy for gluten-free flours and baking mixes. One of my favorite brands of baking mix, Pamela's Products, runs around $4 per pound at my local Kroger and is only available in a four pound bag. I can currently purchase twelve pounds on Amazon for $41.25 or twenty-five pounds for $82.50. With Amazon's free shipping on orders of $25 and more, the bulk option is perfect for items you use frequently. Plus, it also saves on gas money. To quote that great philosopher Charlie Sheen: "Winning!"

Prepare meals with gluten-free items you already have in the house.

Most of us already have gluten-free pantry or fridge staples in our home, many of which frequently have coupons available for use. These items include:

  • Eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Fresh meats
  • White rice, beans, lentils and other legumes
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, etc.

Always read labels meticulously and know which ingredients are safe. Also, make sure you are not allergic to soy or dairy. Many people with a gluten allergy/intolerance have issues with both. By cooking with these low cost items you can counteract the price of gluten free products.

Look for inexpensive substitutes.

One of the main ways I have saved money on my gluten-free diet is by using my imagination to come up with less costly substitutes for bread and pasta. Corn tortillas make a great substitute for both. They can be used in place of bread for sandwiches and in place of pasta for lasagna. Corn tortillas also make great crust bases for small individual pizzas. In addition, cooked zucchini, butternut squash and eggplant are fabulous substitutes for pasta. They can be cut into various shapes and pair well with most cheeses and pasta sauces.

Search for online deals.

At times, you will find deals and coupons for gluten-free foods. Coupons.com recently had a $2 off coupon for Udi's gluten-free hamburger and hot dog buns (no longer available). In addition, BeFreeForMe.com offers coupons and samples for people with various allergy issues (signup is completely free).

Contact the product manufacturer

Like many of us do for regular food products, contact the manufacturers of your favorite gluten-free foods and let them know how much you appreciate their products. They may just reward you with some free coupons!

Stick to your gluten-free lifestyle!

This just might be the most important tip to remember. The digestive problems, intestinal damage, joint pain and plethora of other health problems caused by gluten ingestion can lead to frequent, costly doctor visits or even hospitalization. It is much cheaper to stay 100% gluten-free. Besides, living sounds like a much better option than saving money! Don't you agree?

This has been a guest post by Marcella from Portsmouth, OH
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