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Living Gluten-Free on a Budget

Four easy tips for living gluten-free on a budget, and how you can make a difference in the fight against hunger in America.

Simple Vegan Quinoa Burgers

Being gluten-free has more than one challenge. Not only is adopting a gluten-free diet limiting food wise (or it may feel that way), but eating gluten-free can also have huge implications on your wallet.

Today I'm here to discuss a few things. First, I want to present my own tips for living gluten-free on a budget. I want to assure you that having food allergies doesn't have to break the bank. You can still live comfortably, while not dropping your entire paycheck at the grocery store check out line.

Second, and arguably more important, today I'm here to talk about the issues of hunger that our country faces. Today's event, Food Bloggers Against Hunger, is a virtual event with over 200 bloggers participating, trying to help spread the word about fighting hunger in America.

I'm not here to preach. I'm here to share this powerful message with you. If you haven't watched this, A Place at the Table, I highly recommend it! This is a huge problem that plagues America, and as the movie references, 1 in 2 children in our country at some point in their life will live off food assistance programs. 1 in 2! Can you believe that?

And imagine if that family has a child with food allergies. A double cheeseburger from McDonald's cost about $1.00. A piece of fresh, grilled chicken with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli probably costs upwards of $15.00. If you're struggling to get the bills paid, what option do you think you'd opt for? Yeah, me too.

My Tips for Living Gluten-Free on a Budget

So what if you have food allergies? We all know that eating gluten-free tends to cost more money. Crackers, bread and pasta are easily double what the “normal” gluten-filled versions, but what lots of people don't think about is the ingredients that are naturally gluten-free, that are quite economical.

Creamy Kale Salad with Smoky Baked Tempeh Croutons

1. Shop the perimeter

It's common knowledge that the most nutritious foods are located on the perimeter of your grocery stores. When living with a food allergy, the perimeter also contains most of the naturally gluten-free products. Start with the produce – look for nutritious foods that add flavor to meals like sweet potatoes, onions, broccoli, carrots, bananas, and apples.

Luckily, most meat products are naturally gluten-free. And often times there are sales. Look for chicken, steak or pork and buy in family packs, taking it home and freezing the extras. Some foods to watch out for that might contain gluten are: deli meats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, basically, anything processed.

Next, make your way to the dairy isle. If you're not allergic to dairy keep your eye out for sales. You can usually find great deals of greek yogurt, which is low calorie and packed with protein. A great breakfast option.

2. Avoid the processed food

Granted, when you're shopping on a budget, it's usually cheaper to reach for things like chips and crackers, but when you're gluten-free, this is definitely not the case. Gluten-free crackers are expensive, and many times they're less nutritious than the gluten-filled alternatives. I suggest just avoiding the processed food isles in general. You're not only going to save money, but you'll also be feeding your family more nutritious, whole foods.

3. Buy in bulk

If you have this option in your grocery store, take full advantage. Yes, it's easier to grab a bag of quinoa off the shelf, but that bag of quinoa might cost you $7.00. But buy this nutritional powerhouse in bulk and you're only paying $3.99 a pound at most grocery stores.

The same goes for rice, beans, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It's almost always cheaper to pack your grocery bags with these healthy, naturally gluten-free products that fill your grocery stores' bulk aisles than grabbing them directly from the shelves.

grain-free vegan pizza crust

4. Make it yourself

My moto: food always tastes better when it comes from your own kitchen, than out of a box. Pizza, bread, pasta, muffins, cookies, even crackers are not only made healthier, but also much cheaper.

Lots of people shy away from gluten-free baking because it's intimidating. I'm the first to admit it's scary at first, but the more experiment  the more you will come to enjoy it. It's fun because it's different. You can play around with different flour combinations, adding different nutrients and texture.

If you're up for gluten-free baking, shop for your flours on websites that offer deals, like Amazon and Nuts.com. I often buy my flours in large quantities because it saves money and my baked goods are more flavorful.

Budget Friendly Gluten-Free Recipes:

So, now that you have some ideas for living gluten-free on a budget, make sure to check out A Place at the Table, and write a letter and tell congress that you care about the suffering and hungry children in your towns and cities. Take a stand. Take action. Make a difference in someone's life.