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Eating gluten-free isn’t cheap - don’t gut your wallet to feed your gut.

3 minute read

Grocery shopping is pricey enough without mixing in an allergy or intolerance to gluten – an element of wheat, barley and rye that gives bread, pasta, cookies and so much more that yummy texture.

A gluten-free diet can cost 242 percent more than the standard fare, according to the National Institutes of Health. [1]

That number may seem impossible until you consider a common 24 oz. loaf of whole wheat bread goes for about $3.59, while a loaf of gluten-free bread is typically half that size and goes for at least $2 more, sometimes $3. And the goodies? Pricier still.

The good news is demand continues to drive big name companies to find less costly alternatives.

But who can wait around? Here are tips to tame that bill.

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1. Go to the source

Contact the maker of your favorite bread or cake mix by phone, their websites, Facebook or Twitter to find a bargain. Some of the best coupons come directly from the manufacturers. Best example, both Udi’s [2] and Rudi’s [3] offer $1 off coupons online.

Hint: Check your Sunday fliers and in-store promotions too.

2. Stock up

When you find that buy-one-get-one-free box of your favorite crackers or a deeply discounted loaf of bread, buy as many as your pantry and freezer can handle. Prices on some items, such as cereal, cycle to their low point every six weeks, other goods may drop only once a year.

Hint: The freezer comes in particularly handy when you’re stockpiling gluten-free bread, many of which spoil faster than their standard counterparts. Freezing extends that life. Thawing them a couple of pieces at a time in the microwave ensures not only that they last, but also gives these sometimes dry bread a better texture.

3. Skip on gluten-free breadcrumbs

Those crumbs can take chunks out of your wallet and often can be replaced by standard grocery fare that doesn’t come with the gluten-free price tag.

Hint: Crushed Chex cereal or potato chips can deliver that same crunch to a chicken breast or atop a slab of salmon.

4. Consider ditching sandwiches, too

Let’s face it, one of the most expensive gluten-free items is a loaf of bread. And what you get for your money slice-wise is invariably puny, so sometimes I go with plan B.  That can mean grilled cheese quesadilla-style on a corn tortilla or it means a rolled up slice of turkey or ham with all the sandwich fillings on the inside.

Hint: These gluten-free corn tortillas can be found in the bread aisle or in the regional foods aisle and are not expensive.

5. Stop eating gluten-free junk

Just because the label says “gluten-free” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In the case of cookies, cakes, and other snack foods it probably means it’s got even more sugar than the regular stuff. At prices sometimes double or triple their gluten-filled counterparts, this is a real money pit. If you need a sugar buzz, go for a brand and flavor ice cream that is gluten-free or a gluten-free candy or chocolate.

6. Buy whole foods that are gluten free naturally

Eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. The bonus here is that many of those gluten-free alternatives to bread and pasta also have less fiber, so eating more fruits and veggies is a blessing to your digestive tract and overall health.

7. Shop international food markets, small organic grocers

While the average grocery is becoming better stocked with gluten-free products, sometimes you might have to hunt for a very particular item, say a gluten-free baguette-style bread. This is when you may have to hit your weekend green market, an international food market or small organic grocer. I’ve found the most inexpensive oatmeal at Trader Joe’s [4] and the baguettes at Nutrition Smart. [5]

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About the Author

Michelle Bryan

Michelle Bryan

Before Michelle began writing about how to save money, she made money as a successful real estate investor and also worked as an Organic Foods reporter and opinion columnist. She is an expert in corporate brand management, so she understands how advertisers try to separate you from your money. Her work has appeared on sites as diverse as Forbes, NBC News, Huffington Post, Yahoo, GoBankingRates, U.S. News and World Report, City Pulse, Newsday, On Call and more… When she isn’t trying to get people out of debt, she’s trying to get them to travel frugal and eat organic and cheap – the Arizona State University journalism major writes passionately on the topic. She attended the prestigious Walter Cronkite School of Communication and Journalism with a major in Mass Communication and Media.

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