Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reader Question!

Mandy wrote in with this question....

Your frugal tips and tricks have saved me a lot of money in the past and I am hoping that you can save me once again. We recently found out that our 17 month old daughter has a gluten intolerance and we are all having to go gluten free now. Right now, this is nearly doubling my food budget and I was wondering if you or any of your money saving readers had any advice for me. Relearning how to buy and cook food is difficult enough, but trying to do it all frugally is proving to be an even bigger challenge.

Since we don't have any dietary restrictions at this point I'm wondering if any of you Gluten Free'ers out there have some advice to offer? Please enter your wisdom in the comments and let's see if we can help Mandy out. Thanks guys!!!


Anonymous said...

I have a good friend who is GF and the best resource I've found for recipes is Stephanie O'Dea's blog (http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/). Stephanie's family is GF and thus all her recipes are, too. If you go back to the beginning, you'll notice that her original goal was to use her slow cooker every day for a year; she did and posted each recipe along with pictures.

Sarah said...

Oh, I feel Mandy's pain!

In March we started our 2 yr old on a gluten, egg and dairy free diet. I spent a lot of money buying a ton of different gluten free flours, my SIL and a friend did the same for me.

But, what I've come to realize is that you don't have to purchase a ton of those different flours (holy budget blower, Batman!) Bob's Red Mill all purpose flour makes great pancakes, can be used in muffins and breads.

I do sometimes by her rice noodles if we're having spaghetti but if there are meatballs in the spaghetti sauce (Prego is G-free, no need to buy a fancy shmancy sauce) then she's fine without even having noodles.

Fresh fruit and veggies are great snacks that you don't have to worry about checking labels. I know that fresh stuff can be pricey so I try to stick with what's in season.

I admit I'm still pretty new at this and there will be a ton of better information offered but this is what we're doing at this point to keep our grocery bill from doubling over our new restrictions. So far, so good.

Good luck, Mandy, you can do it!

Unknown said...

I second Stephanie O'dea's blog! I was coming to leave that recommendation! Not only does she have super recipes, but she gives tips on how to use a slow cooker to save money as well. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

The best way to save money on gluten free stuff (in my opinion)is to try to eat whole foods (like fruit, veggies, dairy, etc.) instead of expensive gluten-free processed foods. Or make your own from scratch, that way you can ensure there is no gluten. I second Stephanie's blog, she has some delicious recipes, and some very feasible ways to make things gluten-free. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I've been GF since I was an undergrad. I'm now in grad school and am still living GF on a strict budget.

One of the things that helped me was having an extra freezer. When flours go on sale, I stock up and keep the extras in the freezer. When I'm low and they're not on sale, I stick with Pamela's or Bob's Red Mill's All Purpose. For baking though, you will want to use your own mix. I've never had good luck getting yummy things from the AP flours.
Places like Walmart and Target are starting to carry GF flours and mixes.

Ted Allen's The Food You Want To Eat has a ton of naturally gluten free recipes. I used that as a starting point.

Make a list of your family's favorite meals, and see how you can adapt them to become GF.
For example, with chicken parm I omit the breadcrumbs and just coat the chicken in a bit of GF all-purpose flour with a bit of spices added.
For a basic roux, I omit the flour and use corn starch instead.

I have a yummy stir-fry recipe that uses cornstarch and GF soy sauce.

Asian rice noodles or bean threads are usually cheaper than things like Tinkyada pasta and IMO taste pretty good too. I will buy Tinkyada on sale, but not often.

Potatoes, beans, and rice are usually pretty cheap and are all GF. Like Gayle, you can grow a lot of your own veggies!

Buying pre-made GF things will cost a lot more. It's better to make your own. (It also reduces the risk of cross-contamination!) Rice Chex is GF. For cakes, the best thing to do is make your own flourless chocolate cake (there are lots of recipes!) and my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe is
1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup PB. Mix, roll into balls, bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes.

This takes some getting used to, but eventually you get the hang of it and you'll notice your grocery budget going down. If you'd like to email me feel free! surfacebubbles at gmail.com

good luck!

Unknown said...

Hi Mandy and good luck staring the gf diet. My daughters haven't shown symptoms of celiac yet, but I have it so most of the time my whole family eats gf. I have been cooking gf food for 7yr. There is so much advice I would love to share, but I'll try to keep it brief.

One, find a local support group if your area has one. They will help you find the best local resources and give you good recipes.

Two, get a good gf cookbook. Check the library to try before you buy. Bette Hagman and Carol Fenster are two respected authors, but these days there are a lot of choices.

Three, to go the cheapest you will want to blend flours yourself and buy as few convenience foods as possible. However, don't be too hard on yourself starting out. It can be overwhelming. Any cookbook will give you some flour mixes to try. If you want a premade mix Bob's Red Mill is an option and one of my friends swears by Pamela's mixes.

To start with, I would buy flours in small quantities. Once you settle on your favorite mix, look for the best deals on the ingredients. Some places to look: walmart, health food stores, asian groceries, and Amazon. Asian groceries often carry rice flours, tapioca flour, and potato starch at good prices, but they won't be certified gf. You can get some good deals on bulk gf purchases on Amazon, but it isn't always the best deal. Watch for sales at Whole Foods, Amazon, and your grocery stores, they are rare but great when you find one. You can also occasionally find coupons.

Four, your freezer can really save you money. Regular frozen dinners may be expensive, but the GF version is even more expensive. They are great in a pinch, but will sure blow the budget. I make extras of meals we like and freeze them. That way I have something to pull out when we are tired or in a hurry. There is lots of information on freezer cooking on the web, just use gf recipes. I have had great success freezing gf food.

And fifth, start finding gf blogs you like. There are so many sites that can help you find your way. Favorites of mine include Gluten Free Godsmacked, and Gluten-Free Homemaker. Look on their sites for lists of other gluten free blogs. These blogs are great for inspiration. Their pictures remind me that gf food can be great.

Sorry this is so long. I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Corn tortillas make an inexpensive and convenient gf bread substitute. They are best when toasted slightly.

CPB said...

There is a recipe blogger that I really like and she has recently gone gluten free. Here is her blog and recipes that are categorized under gluten free. They seem to be pretty standard ingredients and not out of this world expensive. I hope this is helpful! lihttp://lynnskitchenadventures.com/lra/category/gluten-free-recipes/

Karissa said...

I love Stephanie's blog too! My husband is GF and my best trick is to make things from scratch instead of buying. You'll find they taste so much better and are much cheaper that way. I also agree with eating mostly naturally gluten free things, it's better for us even if we don't need to be gluten free right?! :) If you have a good Food Co-op store or Whole Foods kind of store you can buy noodles in bulk which I find saves a lot. I do a GF on a budget blog if you'd like to check me out and see how we're doing it. Good luck!

4ddintx said...

I have fed my whole family GF for 8 years now. It IS sticker shock, at first! Lots of great advice has already been given, but here are a few things to add:

While mixes and processed foods may be easier at first, they will KILL your budget. Baking from scratch makes a huge difference. I don't use any of the all purpose flours. I make my own, as per Better Hagman's recipe. I buy rice flour in 50# bags from honeyvillegrains.com I buy tapioca and potato starch flours at a local oriental store (save 50% or more over the stuff at a health food store). Our Wal Mart carries Tinkyada noodles. We don't eat pasta as often and we have learned what a true portion of pasta is. We eat a lot of rice (bought in bulk at oriental store). I found a rice cooker at a thrift store and it has been a wonderful investment!

Stephanie O'Dea's recipes are great, and there are tons of GF recipes online.

We eat a lot of corn tortillas--lunch is often quesadillas or "pizzadillas"--corn tortilla with tomato sauce/paste, cheese, a few pepperoni and another tortilla on top. You can substitute cut up corn tortillas for lasagne noodles to make a yummy casserole, too. We've even made PB & J on corn tortillas! (Best if tortilla is warmed up first).

Amazon.com has a lot of great GF deals in their grocery section. You have to buy a case, but shipping is free over $25. It's great if there is some product you really like that is expensive or not available locally.

I would also be happy to answer any of Mandy's questions. I'm sure I will think of more ideas later!

tabitha spitzer at hotmail dot com
(remove spaces)

Angel Reuther said...

Our family isn't GF, but the author of one of the cooking blogs I read just went GF. She has many recipes that may help you. They aren't all GF as she had the blog before going GF, but they are great from scratch recipes and that always helps the budget.


Letoya said...

I thirdly backup 365 crockpot blog!! I love it and Im not GF. I also use $5 dinner's website. There is an entire section of GF recipes. http://www.5dollardinners.com/category/gluten-free Best of luck to you!!

Catherine said...

I don't really have frugal ideas or recipes for you, but one thing that may help and could ultimately save you lots of money is to look into NAET treatments. See if there is a NAET practitioner around you (NAET is Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique). I have met some people who had a serious gluten allergy who were completely "cured" by this. I don't have food allergies, but I used to suffer from hay fever like crazy (lots of stuff here in the air in Oklahoma) and I suffered from sinus infections (started by my hay fever) about four times a year. In the last year, I have taken an allergy pill ONCE. I have had NO sinus infections. I am floored by this treatment. I have a co-worker whose child was extremely allergic to dogs. He would try to pet the neighbor's dog through the fence and wind up having asthma attacks. Guess who owns a dog now? Anyway, the practitioner I go to charges $60 for the first treatment; $30 thereafter. It may work for you - you might at least want to research it!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what others have said. Go for FOOD first; meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, etc...

Eggs, beans and peanut butter are high protein, low sugar and inexpensive.

GF replacement food is expensive. Udi's bread is what we keep in our freezer, but I now eat a sandwich every other week or so... everything else I can do without bread. Overall, resist the urge to buy substitutes for everything.

Focus on all the food that are gluten free naturally (Chili, Steak and baked potatoes, BACON, Strawberries on ice cream, Popcorn with butter, Chocolate, etc...), buy produce in season and meat on sale.

Anonymous said...

for more grown up gluten free this blog is pretty good

Unknown said...

Wow! I'm the Mandy from the letter and I am just floored by the words of wisdom from all of you.
Today has been really rough with my 4 year old son not wanting to eat the gf food and my daughter throwing her breakfast and food all over the floor (like any good diva). We've discovered the versatility of the corn tortilla and have found many great tasting gf recipes for chicken. But I guess the one place we are still struggling (taste wise) is we all LOVE pasta. Especially my little gf drama queen. Mac and cheese, spaghetti, manacotti...does anyone have any pasta recipes they could share?
I will definitely check out the blog and cookbooks mentioned, and some of you wonderful folks will probably be hearing more from me via email.
This just made my day!!! Thanks so much guys <3

DEH said...

My mother is gluten-free, and I have found that the most budget-friendly way of creating a gluten-free diet is to not try to take what you're used to eating and make it gluten-free but rather to find foods that are gluten-free to start with. There are tons of "normal food" recipes that are gluten-free without any tweaking at all!

For example, chicken enchiladas made with red sauce and corn tortillas are gluten-free already. Many salads can easily be made without gluten as can most soups. Baked potatoes with toppings like salsa and veggies and cheese are naturally gluten free. Even some canned chili contains no gluten, but read labels carefully.

What is expensive is taking your old diet and trying to make it fit a gluten-free mold. Unless you can't imagine life without baked goods, try going without for a while and eat other things instead. Or cut back on the amount so you don't have to buy as much expensive flour. (I also second the peanut butter cookie recipe mentioned already. The BEST pb cookies EVER whether you're GF or not!)

When it comes to pasta, though, you might check your local Winco if you have one nearby. My Winco carries brown rice macaroni in the bulk section for $1.55/lb which I buy for my mom all the time so she can enjoy pasta with everyone else.

Also, instant mashed potato flakes make an easy thickener in soups and such.

Good luck!

Mama Squirrel said...

I was going to mention Stephanie's blog and cookbook too, but here are a couple of others: Gluten Free Frugal http://glutenfreefrugal.blogspot.com/ and Frugal Abundance http://frugalabundance.wordpress.com/ , the blog of the former owner of Hillbilly Housewife. She doesn't update much now but had quite a few posts when her family first went GFCF.

Mama Squirrel said...

Simplest mac and cheese recipe that works well with any pasta including gf macaroni: http://tinyurl.com/2dndtek .

Unknown said...

Pasta ideas...

Spaghetti squash (may not pass kid approval)
Trader Joe's house brand of brown rice pasta is good and a good price if you have access to it.

I haven't changed my pasta recipes, just substituted gf pasta. It is important to note that cooking directions for gf pasta vary. I like brown rice pasta best, but others prefer corn or quinoa. The best advice I got for cooking gf pasta was to always cook it in a lot of water. It seems to help the texture.

I'm the only one gf in my house, so if we are having lots of mac & cheese, my husband will make his own with regular pasta separate from mine. This saves money, but will probably only work once you have gf option your daughter likes. Don't want to make her sad about what she can't have.

Another frugal tip...if making casseroles stick to recipes that are based on rice, or substitute cooked rice for the pasta. Tamale Pie and Sheppard's Pie casseroles are also easy to make gf.

AW said...

I'm gluten-intolerant as is our almost 3 year old. It runs heavily in my family, so my 1 year old is also on a GF diet as I'm afraid he'll have it too. Even hubs eats GF most times because that's just what I cook.

Anyways, I'm not going to repeat all the good advice above. There is already plenty! But I do feel for you. I didn't join Gayle's weekly menu plan for over a year because there was no way I could do $60 a week on our restrictions. But I finally caved and just decided to figure out what works for us. Right now we're around $100 a week for two adults and two toddlers. We are a heavy meat and potatoes kind of family, so it's tight, but it's working. It was definitely an adjustment, but it's been an amazing experience of God proving to me that He ALWAYS provides. Always!

Some easy and not too expensive meals we eat a lot:

Nachos - corn tortilla chips with hamburger (not from Wal-Mart - it's not gluten free), black beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa.

Heavy, antipasta plates - cheese, gluten-free sandwich meats, crackers, olives, fresh fruit

Taco Soup - salsa, hamburger, corn, tomatoes, beans, olives, all in a crockpot

Pasta and meat sauce - Tinkyada or Rizopia or a quinoa pasta with Barilla (it's gluten-free) with chicken or beef

Chicken nuggets - diced breast of chicken tossed in a GF flour mix with spices/herbs, baked or fried. Served with herbed potatoes or home fries.

Fish sticks - similar as above, only fish.

Bean soups - Ham and bean, black bean, white bean chili, Pork Chile verde, Texas Chili,

I bake GF bread in our bread maker about twice a week for sandwiches and French toast. We use Pamela's bread mix and Arrowhead Mills GF pancake mixes. I don't make my own flours yet, but I'm a full-time working mom and don't really have the time for that. One day I might.

I just want you to know that you're not alone. I've been at this for 10 years now and still trying to figure it out. It's tough and maybe I have to pay more, but the health bennies are SO worth it!

Another thing to keep in mind is that one of the most difficult symptoms of being ill from gluten is the emotional fall-out. I've noticed a HUGE difference in my toddler's behavior when he eats well versus getting contaminated. Very rarely are there melt-downs or tantrums anymore. He's still 3, but his emotional composure is a NIGHT/DAY difference. It's the same with me. I get very easily irritated, frustrated, angry, sad, when I'm contaminated, so I can relate.

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

We aren't on a GF diet, but we are on other special food diets. What I've found as the best way to save money is to eat foods that are naturally gluten free.(or whatever the offending ingredient) It is the "substitutes" that are so pricey (i.e., the rice pasta, the gluten free bread.)

Instead, especially since your daughter is young and just forming food habits, why not explore traditions that don't use wheat or oat products? Maybe she'll have to give up wagon wheel pasta, but could she learn to love mochi balls? Instead of buying the special rice or corn pasta that is designed to mimic durum semolina, why not use more traditional rice sticks or glass noodles (found in the Asian section)? Use corn tortillas to make wraps instead of gluten free imitation wheat wraps. Make latkes or potato dumplings instead of biscuit dumplings. Good luck!

Sara said...

Ok, since I'm hitting this after Mandy replied I will keep it short. First, Annie's organic food has a gluten free box of mac and cheese. It is the size of a box of Kraft and you can make just for her and then freeze the leftovers, giving your family the regular. She won't know the difference.

Look in your regular supermarket for gluten free pastas. I have found that the ones my mom likes the most are the ones made from corn rather than rice. Also, try an Asian supermarket for cheaper rice/corn pastas.

However, your best bet, like another responder said, is to not try to substitute. As much as possible simply shift away from those starches and use things like potatoes with chili or pasta sauce on them. I also use a lot of rice simply because I grew up that way with a mother who has celiac.

Lastly, things like modified food starch have gluten in them that can harm the more sensitive people. Please talk to your pharmacist before giving your daughter any vitamins or medicines because some of the preservatives or compounds could also have gluten. There is no reason to spend this much time and money to keep her food safe and hurt her with vitamins, you know?

Umm, that wasn't short. :)

Jenna said...

I've been gluten free since my daughter was born, which has been hard adjusting to, but at least we will be used to it if she becomes intolerant as well (good chance of it, she is also almost 2).

Besides Mexican, I like to make curries and stir fry, anything over rice. I also use my crock pot a lot to make curry, chili, stew, soup etc. Jamie Oliver has a lot of recipes that are simple and might just call for a tbsp of flour (just substitute with rice) and his recipes are fairly cheap to make as well.

We like to get either rice stick noodles or vermicelli which costs about 1-2$ a bag, and rice crackers, rice crackers! The plain round rice crackers are super super cheap and a great size for little hands. You can top them with spreads, jams, meat or cheese, even make tiny sammies out of them! Much cheaper than bread.

For snacks I make homemade popsicles and hummus for corn tortilla chips, baked carrot sticks (my daughter eats them as if they were fries)

Another thing is that you just have to look around, you will eventually find deals and places to shop. We found a bulk spices place that sells GF cereal, two boxes worth 5.99$ no tax. My usual store sells the same for 9.99$ before tax. Right next to it is a bakery that sells fresh GF treats and frozen bagels for cheap. There is even a pizza place a block away that has started offering GF pizza, 4$ more than regular, still not a bad price.

It might still be expensive to be GF (well, when you add the convenience part) but there is more and more becoming available! I'm sure if you explore around a bit you will find some deals, and making up the difference in the kitchen will become easier and easier :D


My dd,7, is gluten free, casein free, dye free, etc. I just made a wonderful chocolate cake with white icing. Yum! I will post it on my blog tonight. If I don't, remind me. ~smile~
Found your blog through Cozy Comforts.

The Prudent Pantry said...

I feel your pain, Mandy, especially about the pasta. You can read how I handled the pasta issue with my very picky eater at my site (gfcfpantry.com). I will be adding more recipes soon, I'm on this journey with you!

Although the best advice is to concentrate on foods that are naturally GF, I know how difficult that can be, especially at first.

Please feel free to send me an email sometime.

Unknown said...

Everyone has given you good advice.

I remember when we became gluten free. I was in total shock and feeling sorry for myself. (I am not GF - hubby is so I cook GF). That was a long time ago before you even had the option of all the GF food on the market.

The best way to go, in my opinion, is with fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, quinoa. You can use corn starch to thicken and this is reasonable in price. I also keep potato starch on hand.

There are many blogs as well as places to buy items, online.

Rather than list a whole bunch of good gluten free blogs, I suggest you type in Google, gluten free blogs and your will get many to explore.

If you want one to start with, try Gluten Free Easily. Shirley is a doll and will help you, I am sure. She also, has many good GF blogs listed.

If you would like a list, let me know and I will be glad to send it to you.

Anonymous said...

I second Tabitha's rec. This is pretty much how we do it. I have recently experimented with adding in less expensive flours such as millet and amaranth with great luck. I do not buy mixes or processed GF food, except pasta and rice crackers (which I can buy at Costco).

For pasta, we have recently really liked BioNaturale Organic pasta- a mix of corn. It is most similar to traditional pasta and not as slimy as white rice pasta (what we used previously).

Unknown said...

There's tons of great advice here, I don't have too much to add. My family was gluten free for a while. One of my favorite places was Trader Joes, if you have one nearby tell someone that works there that you need to shop gluten free and they will give you a list of every item in the store that is gf. I liked their brown rice pasta and they have some gf cookies.
Costco is another place to look, I've seen a lot more gf foods there lately.
Good luck!

Tiffany said...

My son has celiac and is gluten free. I bake all of his bread ($2.50 a loaf, better than $5 a loaf) and many of his other baked goods. I'd recommend

"Gluten-free Baking Classics" by Annalise Roberts $12 on Amazon

I know betty haggeman's books are popular, but I find AR's recipes to taste better and taste more like wheat. Best $12 I've spent on GF stuff! Many of her recipes are available on her web site


I've also blogged about eating gluten-free and frugal at my blog:


Hang in there, it gets easier!

Anonymous said...

My 9 yr old daughter has Celiac Disease and we follow a gluten free diet for the family (except for our oldest as she is severely impaired by autism and feeding is a challenge anyway). The very first few months are the hardest. It was hard for her and it was hard for me. I didn't know what to cook.

We hated the replacement items and stepped away from them all during the first few months. Our return to them (with 'new' taste buds) found that they weren't that bad after all.

What helped most was to find one meal that everyone liked and would eat. I wrote it down on an index card and made sure i had the ingredients on hand at all times. Then I found another one, etc. Eventually, I became able to throw together gluten free meals without too much headache.

Amazon.com has really great prices on gf items if you buy in bulk. At first, I bought chebe biscuit mixes, then pasta, mac n cheese, cookies, etc. I bought one case at a time until my savings became apparent. It does mean creative budgeting, but it helps to have those items around. I write down the cost of my fav items from the stores and then check amazon to see if I can get it cheaper.

We moved to a more rural area and now enjoy fresh veggies, fruit and real eggs. I supplement that with 'markdown' meat and sometimes deer meat that neighbors give us. The savings allow us to spend a little extra in giving my daughter things that help keep her in 'emotional' check. She sometimes feels 'different' than her friends which can cause emotional outbursts every few months. I make sure that she has cupcakes for other kids' birthdays and that her snacks for school make other kids envious. It helps for those days when the sight of an oreo makes her weepy.

Good luck. It's a very healthy diet and I think you'll ALL see the benefit from eating well.

Lucky Charms is gf as well :) (unless you are particularly sensitive to oats which thankfully my dd is not)

The Diva said...

I don't know if this has been posted, but there is a $1/1 on coupons.com for any Udi's Gluten free baked goods product. It is under zip code 80202. :)

Dom said...

Check out crockpot365.blogspot.com
"A Year of Slow Cooking"
I share her obsession with the crock pot, and the recipes are quite spot-on. Plus her youngest is celiac (sp?) so 99.9% of her recipes are gluten free (the one or two that aren't she is very specific)
Hope this helps!