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Last June I wrote a post entitled “8 tips for Coeliacs on a budget” and it was so popular I’ve compiled some more tips for you!
I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I haven’t been on a budget, but since I’m now a gluten free student, it’s even more important to be frugal with food. Sometimes you have to really think outside the box to find new ways to cut back on your food bill.
Learn how best to utilise leftovers. You can quite easily stretch one meal into two or three without having to add much more onto the cost. For example, I often save leftover pasta sauces and use for the next night’s meal to make a tomato risotto. Leftover mashed potato can be added to water and leftover steamed vegetables to make quick and cheap soup. Just remember to put a sticky label with the date on the side of the container facing out so that when you open the fridge you can see when you need to use everything by. Most leftovers will last a couple of days but be careful with reheating rice.
Keep track of the best before dates on your Gluten Free cupboard foods. I’m guilty of being quite bad at this – I will buy Genius rolls or packets of noodles and put them in the cupboard, forget about them and fine they are well past their best befores when I want to use them. This is especially important with things that have a relatively short shelf life or things that will spoil. Genius bread is very good at staying good for a week or more after it’s best before, so even if you do forget about that half loaf, it might be okay – just check for mould and if it’s dry, turn it into bread crumbs for stuffed mushrooms or nut roast!
Work out how much each meal will cost for the week/month before buying your shopping. This is exactly what we do for the Thrifty Food recipe series – working out how much each ingredient will cost and how much we will need. By working out meal costs you can plan ahead and only buy the things you need.
Find cheaper substitutes for Gluten Free treats. One thing that can be really frustrating is looking at the 50p packets of biscuits in the “normal” aisles compared to ours which are £3. Train yourself to enjoy treats that are going to be more budget friendly. For example, I make my own chocolate covered nuts and raisins, for a fraction of the supermarket price.
Save more expensive gluten free items for special occasions only. It can be really tempting when you see a new product in the Free From aisle and think “I must have gluten free birthday cake even if it’s not my birthday”. If you know it’s a bit pricier, save it for a special occasion – that way it will be more likely to feel like a one off buy and you won’t be as tempted to buy it regularly. For example, we did this with ASDA’s new gateaux which is a staggering £6.50 – not something we can afford in our usual weekly shop. If you teach yourself to see these items as occasional you’ll be less likely to impulsive buy them next time.
Set a strict weekly budget for Free From aisle items. Instead of thinking “I need bread, crumpets, biscuits and pizza every week”, set an amount (the amount will depend on your budget and how many people you are shopping for) an allow yourself whichever items you like within that. For example, if you set yourself £6 a week you could buy:
1 X own brand rolls – £1.95
1 X Warburton’s Gluten Free Crumpets – £1.85
Own brand Free From Pizza – £2.00
This will encourage you to save money by cooking most of your meals from scratch, and using your meal plans you will be able to plan ahead for this. I tend to find if I don’t set a budget for Free From items I will keep putting things in the basket because I want, rather than because I can afford them.
Try to cook gluten free dinners for the non-Free From people in your house too. This tip is specifically for those who cook for their household and those who live with people who are not gluten free. It is far more economical to cook one meal for everyone instead of cooking gluten food for the family and a separate meal for yourself. You may be thinking “that’s not true – gluten food is cheaper!” and that is certainly the case for bread, pizza, and any other foods that need a substitute, so I’m not suggesting that you make your entire house go gluten free (especially if you have younger children) but if you’re making a rice or potato based dish for yourself, make it for the whole family! These dishes are cheaper anyway and the entire family can eat it. There are obviously lots of variables for this, but if you stick to the meal planning that I mentioning earlier you will find it easier to forward think about creating naturally gluten free dishes for the entire family.
Work out how to utilise cheap foods in place of more expensive foods. For example, gluten free pasta and noodles (£1.09 for 500g) can be quite expensive, but own brand rice (£1.25 for 1kg) is a lot cheaper. Another example is using ribboned or sliced vegetables instead of lasagne sheets, like Lucy did recently for this recipe. This way you can still eat your favourite meals (bolognese with rice instead of pasta, lasagne with less or no lasagne sheets, crustless quiche etc.).
Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.
Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA
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