How to Shop Wheat- and Gluten-Free on a Budget

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It can be hard enough checking to make sure your child’s foods are free of wheat and gluten. So you don’t need the extra hurdle of wondering whether you can afford the right foods for your child’s specialty diet.

A wheat- and gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be out of reach. These tips are designed to make it easier for you to find the allergen-free foods your child can eat at prices that don’t stretch your budget.

Look to Regular Foods

Not all wheat- and gluten-free foods are specialty foods. Many regular foods are free of these ingredients, which is good because they’re easily available in the supermarket without added expense. Search for foods that are naturally free of wheat and gluten. These include whole foods, such as:

  • Meat

  • Seafood

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Legumes

  • Nuts

  • Dairy

Basically, you can cook with anything that’s not in the grain food group. Yet, you still have grain options that are free of wheat and gluten to choose from. Some of these options, such as amaranth and sorghum, may be included with specialty items and have a higher price tag. Others are more commonplace, which tends to mean they’re easier on the budget. These include corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat and oats that are free of gluten contamination. You simply need to stay away from the various types of wheat, including spelt and bulgur, as well as rye, barley, triticale and oats you’re not sure about.

Also, many regular processed foods, such as Honey Nut Cheerios, are made without wheat and gluten, so you would pay no more than someone who doesn’t have to shop around these ingredients. Just make sure to check the label to confirm they’re free of wheat and gluten.

Make Homemade Foods

When you’re shopping, look at processed specialty foods with an eye to whether you could make them cheaper yourself. For instance, if you plan to purchase expensive wheat- and gluten-free muffins, could you make them at home with simple pantry ingredients? This option might be better on your budget than buying the pre-made version. As an added bonus, you can teach your child how to cook and bake for their diet in the process, which will help them throughout life.

Check out these gluten-free recipes, from breakfasts and dinners to snacks and baked goods.

Check Various Retailers for Deals

Supermarkets generally carry a range of foods that fit this type of specialty diet. Yet, it’s also smart to look beyond your regular supermarket to other brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers.

Shop for specialty foods the same way you would for any other kind of product. In other words, compare prices between different stores and check for sales, specials and coupons. If you can, buy extra specialty foods when they’re on sale. Look for rewards programs that will help you save, whether it’s at your local health food store or pharmacy. No matter where you shop, look for store-brand items that are free of wheat and gluten, which tend to be cheaper than the brand alternatives.

Discount grocers have grown in popularity in part because they cater to specialty diets. Check these stores for wheat- and gluten-free foods at a better price. It’s also smart to check online retailers, because you might find better prices on a broader variety of products by doing so.

The last thing you need to think about is how to fit your child’s specialty foods into your weekly grocery budget. So use these tips, from checking a variety of stores to choosing naturally gluten-free foods, to help you save while ensuring your child stays safe.

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Read more about avoiding wheat and gluten, the difference between wheat allergy and celiac disease and alternatives to wheat here.