One of the things I hear almost daily is, “How can I eat well and feed my family gluten-free on a shoe string budget? I get it, sometimes it seems like your grocery bill each month is more than your mortgage or rent. It’s true. Eating healthy and gluten-free can be expensive. However, it really doesn’t have to be. You can still eat gluten-free and cut your grocery bill in half. Here are a few simple strategies to eat well on a shoestring gluten-free budget.

#1 Buy whole clean foods.

  • No where is it written that you have to buy ready-made gluten-free packaged foods. Just because it doesn’t say “Gluten-Free” on the label, doesn’t mean it isn’t. I say this all the time. Shop the outside aisles at the supermarket. That is where the real, whole foods live. The fresh fruits and vegetables, the chicken, beef, pork and fish. All naturally gluten-free, and much healthier than the processed, boxed gluten-free packages.
  • Also, grab the frozen veggies from the freezer section. They are just as nutritious and a lot of the time you can get them on sale at a huge savings.

#2 Plan ahead.

  • There’s nothing worse for the budget than going to the grocery store for tonight’s dinner. Because you’re tired, rushed and probably hungry, you’re likely going to buy whatever is easiest. This isn’t cost effective. Instead, plan ahead. Make a list of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals on the weekend. Choose recipes and make sure you have the ingredients. If not, add them to your grocery list. Once you get to the store, shop from your list. If you deviate from your list make sure it makes sense to do so.

#3 Use the store advertisements.

  • The store supplements are often found in the newspaper or online. Before you make your weekly shopping list, grab a copy of the store’s weekly advertisement. Use the ad to plan your meals and create your shopping list. For example, if apples are on sale for fifty cents a pound, then you know you’re having apples this week. Maybe apple pancakes or apple bread for breakfast.

#4 Stock up.

  • Many things freeze well. You can save tons of money each month if you stock up on sale items and freeze them. Gluten-free bread, for example, can cost seven dollars a loaf. If you find it on sale, then buy several loaves. Chicken and other meats often go on sale too. Buy in bulk. Buy family packages. You can separate them at home into smaller meal-sized portions. Place them in freezer bags. Label the bag so you know when you bought it and what it is.

#5 Visit the butcher.

  • Often, you can save as much as 50% on your meats if you buy them from the local butcher. Visit yours and compare prices.

#6 Visit the farmer’s market.

  • If you have a farmer’s market in town, visit it and compare prices. Often, because the produce doesn’t have to be shipped and is local, you can save money. And the produce generally tastes so much better.

#7 Buy what’s in season.

  • If you’re trying to buy apples in May you’re going to pay more for them than in August and September when they’re in season. Buy your fruits and veggies when they’re in season and save money.

#8 Cut back on meat.

  • Do you really need to eat meat every night? Did you know that beans and rice are a complete protein? Beans and rice are a whole lot cheaper than a package of meat too. Quinoa is another really good naturally gluten-free grain. Here’s a really informative article on quinoa.
  • Try to cut back and eat a few vegetarian meals each week. You’ll likely be healthier and you’ll save money on groceries. And there are some really tasty vegetarian recipes out there.

With a little advanced planning and some thought you can feed your family really well and still save money. Pay attention to what’s on sale. Plan ahead. And cut back on the pricey items like meat and processed foods.