Gluten-free diets can be challenging to follow, however, due to the serious commitment involved in eating gluten free, the cost that accompanies living a gluten-free lifestyle, and the lack of availability of gluten-free foods in the mainstream marketplace. Generally, most pre-packaged and processed foods contain gluten as a means of adding texture and flavor. The alternative gluten-free varieties of these same foods are often much more expensive, as they are considered to be “specialty” items.
However, not all hope is lost. As the gluten-free diet has become more prevalent, there has been a sharp increase in demand for gluten-free food products, making them a bit easier to come by these days. Although it takes slightly more effort and creativity, there are many options for maintaining affordability when shopping gluten free.
There are many resources available to those who are on the lookout for ways to stretch their food dollar when shopping for gluten-free foods. The following guidelines provide not only helpful tips for savings at the grocery store, but also strategies for saving money before it even leaves your paycheck:
Use gluten-free info websites
There are several websites dedicated to helping those on gluten-free diets or with food allergies that offer coupons, samples, and recipes. These include the GlutenFreeGoddess and BeFreeforMe. For those on the hunt for simple, low-cost gluten-free recipes that also taste great, you may want to check out Allrecipes or Food.com. You will be amazed at how many recipes and ingredients that you can easily prepare for yourself at home. Many of these websites also keep a running list of typical gluten-free staples that are affordable and easily available in your local grocery store.
When it comes to eating out on the town gluten-free style, check out Urbanspoon. This site will tell you where the gluten-free restaurants are in many cities, in addition to how pricey they are.
Do you have celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity or food allergy that makes it medically necessary for you to follow a gluten-free diet? Keep track of your gluten-free purchases. The U.S. Government allows you to take a tax deduction to offset the additional cost incurred when purchasing gluten-free food items. It is as simple as getting a doctor's note. You may also be able to incorporate the difference of the cost between regular food items and gluten-free food items into your flexible spending account, allowing you to purchase your gluten-free foods with pre-tax dollars from your income. Go to Celiac Central (which is run by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) and search "Tax Deduction Guide" for more information.
Try a national gluten-free co-op
Natural food co-ops, such as Azure Standard, make deliveries all over the country and offer great prices and even monthly sales on gluten-free items (some up to 15-20 percent lower than supermarket prices). If you don't have a local organic/gluten-free food co-op near your home, companies like Azure make it easy to stock up on bulk gluten-free items such as coconut flour, corn starch, xanthan gum and more.
Apply for a Better Batter discount
Better Batter not only makes a popular gluten-free flour blend, but also offers their products at a discounted rate for families who have autistic children who need a gluten-free diet or low-income families that meet federal requirements. You can apply for a discount through their website.
Go to a gluten-free expo
There are several gluten-free expos held all over the country every year. Attendees at these expos learn about new gluten-free products that haven't yet hit the market. They also get to sample products from vendors and buy gluten-free products at a significant discount and sign up to receive news, coupons and information on deals offered by vendors on a regular basis. A quick Google search for "gluten-free expo" will result in a list of expos that take place across the U.S.
Clip gluten-free coupons
Websites such as GlutenFreeResourceDirectory list directories that contain the names of many gluten-free manufacturers and products. You can then visit manufacturers' websites to find or request coupons directly from them.
Check out the Gluten-Free Mall
Celiac.com is the home of The Gluten-free Mall. Sign up for your free account, and they will send regular coupons to your email for savings on their products. They offer a huge selection of gluten-free, wheat-free and allergy related health foods and often send out 10-15 percent off coupons for these items.
Don't dismiss your local supermarket
You will find many of your gluten-free staples here, regularly offered at competitive prices compared to the cost of shopping at specialty health food stores. Just be sure to check your grocer's weekly online sales and circulars for deals. Many supermarkets will have a gluten-free section listed in their online weekly ads to show you the gluten-free deals offered that week.
There are a numerous ways to adapt your gluten-free lifestyle into an affordable one. As gluten-free diets become more commonplace, the greater and more affordable the supply becomes to meet the demand. In the meantime, be sure to incorporate a strategy that will save you money as well as time when making purchasing decisions to accommodate your gluten-free diet.