If you’re new to coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, there’s one thing that will never fail to shock you.
I’m not talking about the first time you taste ‘free from’ bread (although that is indeed an eye-opener) but the first time you cast your eyes on the receipt of your weekly shop.
Gluten-free foods are, at times, ridiculously expensive.
In fact, Coeliac UK estimates gluten-free bread can be up to five times more expensive than its equivalent.
And it’s not just loaves – pasta, biscuits, flour, sweet treats and sauces all come with that hefty ‘free from’ markup.
I took to the internet to ask my fellow free-frommers their best tips for going gluten free on a budget. Here’s their advice:
1. Always focus on natural products – Olivia Wollenberg, Livia’s Kitchen
I always focus on products being natural rather than gluten-free.
Fruits, vegetables, pulses, oats and nuts are all naturally gluten-free, cheaper and healthier.
With baking, it is really easy to use naturally free from ingredients. For example, gluten-free oats (for those who tolerate them) can be used as a substitute for flour by blending them in a food processor.
2. Cooking from scratch is always best – Jenni, Gluten And Me
Make everything yourself; use fresh, unpackaged veggies and meat from a butcher.
I’d also recommend taking full advantage of your freezer- it will be your new best friend. I have so much bread and cake in there!
3. Don’t fall for the ‘free from’ aisles – Amy Rutter
Look for items in the supermarket which are naturally gluten free rather than just heading for the free from aisles.
For example, corn tortilla chips and rice are usually 100% gluten-free- yet these items are also marked as ‘free from’ in the gluten-free aisle and are often more expensive.
4. Don’t always opt for the cheapest flour – The Groovy Food Company
The majority of gluten-free products are made out of rice or potato.
They might seem cheaper but products like coconut flour are also gluten-free and can actually work out as a thriftier choice in the long run.
Coconut flour is very absorbent so it can be used in much smaller quantities. In recipes, you’d only need to use a 1/4 of the amount of coconut flour to get the same effect as regular free from flour.
For me, batch cooking is ideal. It means you don’t have to fuss about cooking dinner after a busy day at work.
I batch cook sweet potato chilli con carne or a stew and pop it in the freezer to tuck into at a later date.
6. Check regarding prescriptions – Kate, Gluten Free Alchemist
If you have Coeliac, check your prescription status and policy locally through a GP or dietitian.
You may be entitled to support with GF products on prescription or it might be free for children.
7. There are lots of completely gluten-free desserts – Elizabeth, Elizabeth D Bakes
There are many naturally GF dessert choices out there without going straight to the free from aisle.
Such as: meringues, pavlova, macaroons, fudge, sorbet, rice pudding, custardy puds and flourless chocolate cake.
But it is very important to check labels carefully because some of these products might have added gluten for a particular recipe/manufacturer.
8. Speak to supermarkets – Laura, Loopy Lou Laura
You can ask supermarkets for (or download) an allergen list of every own brand item – so you can plan ahead at home.
I would also recommend checking out the world food aisle – you can find chickpea flour, rice noodles, lentils and lots of snacks at a much cheaper price.
9. Buy everything in bulk – Katie, Cakes V Scales
I always buy the basics in huge quantities to save time and money.
For example, online sites like My Protein sell 1kg of gluten-free oats cheaper than any supermarkets.
10. Sign up for all the free offers – Tilly, She And Life
Make sure you sign up for all the free trial boxes – such as from Juvela and Glutafin.
Each offers a free box of products for you to test and see what suits you.