Going gluten free can be a stressful change. It requires research, planning, precision, and dedication. Changing your diet is already hard enough as it is, not to mention the added stress of how expensive gluten free products can be! It leaves many people wondering “How can I eat gluten free more affordably”?
One of the first things I noticed when I started going gluten free grocery shopping was how much more everything cost! My grocery bills skyrocketed and my bank account took a big hit. I thought it wasn’t fair that I was being charged so much money when gluten free eating wasn’t my choice but necessary for the health of my body.
In fact, research says that gluten free products have an average mark-up of 242%! No wonder GF people are struggling to find affordable gluten free choices.
Over the years I have learned a lot about how to cut the costs of a gluten free lifestyle. I want to share all of my tips and tricks to hopefully help you eat gluten free more affordably. Eating what is healthy for your body should’t be a luxury, it should be accessible to everyone no matter your income. So read up on the tips below to learn how to eat gluten free affordably!
Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to save some cash if you have the funds (and storage) for it. Some stores offer multiples of items together for one price. These usually always end up being cheaper if your break down the price per item than if you bought only one of that item. I like to do this for things that don’t expire right away (like GF crackers), or things that I go through lots of. It’s not worth buying in bulk if you won’t use the products before they go bad, because then it just ends up being a waste of money.
I also like to do this with meat. I’ll buy a large piece of meat, cut it up into smaller portions and then put it in my freezer and pull the portions out as needed.
My favourite store for buying bulk is Costco! They have so many gluten free options. Trader Joe’s in the USA is also a good option.
Stick to Naturally Gluten Free Foods
Shopping for items that have been made specifically gluten free have HUGE price mark-ups. For example, a regular loaf of bread goes for an average of $3.00CAD whereas a loaf of gluten free bread goes for an average cost of $7CAD. So to avoid these crazy costs its best to just avoid buying those products at all.
Instead, try buying foods that are naturally gluten free and don’t have the “GF Markup Price” such as rice, oats, beans, nuts, potatoes, dairy, quinoa, eggs, veggies and fruit.
Shop Around Different Stores
The best way to make sure your getting the lowest possible price for gluten free products is to shop around to all the grocery stores in your area. Some places might surprise you and offer affordable gluten free products!
In Canada, there is a chain of Dollar Stores called “Dollarama”, and they offer some great gluten free products for under $2! I was shocked when I found certified gluten free products there, but it goes to show that you never know where you’ll find great affordable gluten free products.
Also, try to shop the stores own product line instead of brand names; they are usually MUCH more affordable. For example, President’s Choice products from Loblaws in Canada have a certified gluten free product line that has some of the most affordable gluten free products I’ve yet to find!
Make It Yourself
From my observations on shopping trips, gluten free snacks are by far the most over priced. When you’re hungry, you must have something gluten free on hand and the companies know it! Most of these gluten free products are super pricey but surprisingly very easy to make yourself! It’s best to learn how to make your own favourite gluten free foods to save LOTS of money.
For example, store-bought gluten free granola bars are usually very over-priced, but with a few simple ingredients you can easily make your own homemade granola bars for a fraction of the cost. Check out my favourite recipe here.
Click here for a list of delicious, easy gluten free snacks you can buy or make yourself!
Join Rewards/Loyalty Programs
Most grocery stores have their own version of a rewards or loyalty program. I encourage you to join the program at your favourite stores to get exclusive savings and deals on your groceries. Any savings helps, right?!
My favourite rewards program in Canada is PC Optimum through Loblaws President’s Choice. You get points for every dollar spent at a large variety of stores across the country, and the points can be used to get money off your purchases. And if you really love President’s Choice, it might be worth your while to get one of the PC Financial Credit or debit cards. They make it super easy to get free groceries because you accumulate points for every dollar spent on the card and you get even more points for money spent at PC stores. This is truly the only credit card I use, and I find I have points to use towards my grocery bill almost every time I go shopping! For more information, visit the PC financial page here.
Other great rewards programs are “More Rewards” with Save on Foods. And if you shop at Costco a lot, consider talking with a Costco employee about switching to the Costco Executive membership as it offers rewards as well!
Use a Grocery Savings App
Even though eating gluten free can be pricey, we luckily live in the age of technology…so of course there is an app to help!
One of my favourite apps is Flashfood. It sells products from grocery stores that are close to the “best before” or “expiry” date for a highly discounted price.
Another great savings app is Flipp. It allows you to look through thousands of flyer offers and clip virtual coupons to show at grocery store checkouts for savings.
For more great grocery savings apps, check out this article here!
Try Online Shopping
Online grocery shopping has been a game changer since going gluten free! It allows me to easily compare product prices to see which product is the best deal. You can easily find gluten free versions of products just by putting “gluten free” in the search bar and seeing what items the store has to offer. Online shopping also allows you to thoroughly look through the ingredients list or research a company before buying a product.
Overall, online grocery shopping helps you stick to a budget by allowing you to see how much you’re spending as you add it to your cart. You can easily add or remove items as necessary. I also think it saves me a lot of time since I don’t have to wander around the aisles of a grocery store looking for a “GF” label. You can just shop from the comfort of your home, then go pick up your order or have it delivered to you.
Some of the big grocery stores offering online shopping programs in Canada include PC Express, Save on Foods, and Walmart.
Don’t Just Shop in the Health Foods Section
Most of the products in the “Natural/Health Food Aisles” are very pricey! If you shop around the other aisles, you can usually find certified gluten free products at a fraction of the cost! For example, I always get Vermicelli rice noodles and GF taco shells in the “International” foods aisle.
Just make sure you take the time to look for the Certified GF label, or thoroughly read through product ingredients. If you are unsure if a product has been subjected to cross contamination, don’t be scared to call the company and ask! It might be gluten free and just not labelled, and you could end up saving lots of money by researching different products!
Research Affordable Restaurants
Eating out can be an expensive treat, and even more-so when you’re gluten free. Restaurants like to charge more for the gluten free options or substitutions. It’s important to research the gluten free restaurants in your area so that if you’re in a pinch and need to “Skip the Dishes” you know the trusted and affordable gluten free options.
Knowing the best affordable gluten free restaurants in your area also allows you to make suggestions of where to go to with friends and family knowing that it will satisfy your dietary and wallet needs.
Make sure to read through those flyers coming to your mailbox every week or sign up for emails from your favourite grocery stores! Most will send you their weekly deals and specials so you can stock up when your favourite gluten free product goes on sale.
In a time where grocery costs keep rising, I hope these tips and tricks help teach you how to eat gluten free affordably and keep your grocery costs down. Let me know in the comments below if you have any more advice for being gluten free on a budget!