Hi! Today, I have Jennifer Bigler is the blogger behind Living Freely Gluten Free. Grocery budget is the most common struggle I hear when it comes to budgeting. I am thankful for Jennifer for sharing tips to manage the grocery budget with food allergies. Enjoy this guest post!
Finding out that you or a family member has a food allergy is always difficult to wrap your head around.
At first, it’s just understanding how to navigate it and coming to terms with it.
Very quickly you realize the cost of these allergy free items is a lot more than what you have been used to. I do feel some gluten free items are very overpriced and some of those prices are justifiable because they use cleaner ingredients and they have to pay to have it certified gluten free and non-gmo.
There is no getting around the cost of food going up a bit, but I have done my best to make sure I am not over spending or spending frivolously on processed allergy free foods.
Plus today there are many different types of allergies to be concerned with – dairy free, soy free, nut free, gluten free.
Maybe you are choosing to avoid a food because of a food preference. The same ways to stay on budget are the same.
Paleo on a budget. Whole 30 on a budget. Gluten free on a budget.
Here are my tips for staying on budget with any food preferences or food allergies.
7 Tips to Stay on Budget with Food Allergies or Food Preferences
1. Meal planning is no longer an option, it is a top priority.
You have to be organized if you want to save money. This goes for traditional food budgets as well.
Once a month, sit down and create an outline of what you want to feed the family for the month. I stick with our go-to inexpensive favorites and a few times a week I make something new that looks good. I plan for the days of the week that I know are busy by making sure to schedule a fast and simple dinner for those nights.
One of my tricks is that when I cook, I double the recipe and freeze so I have some things in the freezer already. That way all you need to do is take it out to defrost and warm it up. I have two E-books that are recipes with a meal plan and grocery list to keep your life simple. You can view both of my e-books here.
If you have no idea where to start with meal planning, start with a meal planning company.
Related Post: Meal Planning 101 (plus save money each week)
2. You will have to cook from scratch.
Packaged food is expensive and most of it is bad for you anyway. I understand that sometimes there just isn’t enough time. In a pinch, I have bought cake mix or cornbread mix.
I also buy allergy friendly packaged snacks such as pretzels, applesauce, pirates’ booty, fruit snacks and Larabar’s. I have to provide snacks for my son at school and they need to have somewhat of a shelf life.
Also, I need to keep a few snacks in my purse for emergency situations.
Related Post: Best Kitchen Gadgets Under $20 For Healthy Eating
How to Bake in Bulk?
Schedule your baking days each week or a few times a month. Put it in your schedule and make it a priority.
On these days plan to make muffins, cookies and breads that your family likes. Triple each recipe and freeze them. All of the cookies on my blog are freezable. I scoop the dough on parchment paper and put them in freezer bags and label the day and what they are. You can take them right out of the freezer and bake them.
How to Cook in Bulk?
You want to cook the meals that you can in bulk. For example, if you are making chili or stew, then double the recipe. Once it cools put in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Then, you have easy meals to pull out on busy days or when you just don’t feel like cooking.
You can crock pot it or just warm them up on the stove. This helps to keep you from being tempted to eat out and therefore you save more money. Some of my favorite meals to do this with are Chili, Ragu Meat Sauce, Corn Bread and Stew. You can find all of these recipes on my website. Also, find wonderful gluten free meal plans here.
3. Limit eating out to once a week.
We have a set budget for eating out each week. It is $35 for my family of 4.
That means no extravagant meals.
Sometimes we skip a week and then we have more money for a nice dinner. Some places we like are Chipotle, Dicky’s BBQ (only with a coupon), Burgerville and Taco Time (only in the Pacific Northwest), Chick Fil ‘A and In ‘n Out Burger. Use coupons when you can, or find a place that has a kids eat free day.
Related Post: Strategies to Lower Grocery Budget. Easy. Quick. Simple.
4. Carry some snacks in your bag or purse.
You should always keep a Larabar or something similar in your bag in case you are out and hunger strikes.
Unless you plan ahead, you do not know what will be around and there could be times when no safe food is around.
If you are out with your kids you should always have some type of emergency treat on hand. I carry lollipops and fruit snacks. There is nothing worse when you are somewhere and they see another kid eating something they want or an adult offers them something they can’t have.
These have kept potentially massive fits down to a minimum.
5. Check your discount food store first.
I have a grocery outlet in town and I check it before going to the regular grocery store. This is the main place I buy snacks from. The items go out of stock within days so if there is something I know we will not waste I will buy a lot of it.
Make sure to check the expiration dates.
Some deals I find are Annie’s Bunny cookies for 99 cents a box (they are $4 a box at Target), Larabars, Fig Bars, Spaghetti noodles, Ice Cream, Chip, Crackers, Yogurts and lots more.
6. Buy in bulk.
Costco offers a lot of gluten free items and they can save you a lot of money. Also, if you have a nut allergy in the household, Costco offers many options for fresh fruit and veggies.
I always buy my gluten free bread from Costco; it’s about $1.50 less per loaf. I also like to buy frozen veggies, eggs, bananas, applesauce and anything else that saves us money and we eat a lot of.
Another option is Thrive Market. They offer organic items shipped directly to your door.
7. Be prepared.
This is key with dealing with food allergies:
- Plan all of your outings ahead of time.
- Take packed lunches when you know you will be out all day.
- If you are going to a party or gathering, make sure you are prepared for it. Here is a post of mine about attending parties.
Food allergies are a challenge, but it is a challenge that you will win! Everyone has good and bad days, but once you find your routine it becomes much easier.
Make sure to grab a copy of the Grocery Stock Up Price List!
Just for reference, this list does not include the use of coupons.
Related Grocery Budget Resources:
- 7 Simple Strategies to Lower Grocery Budget
- Are Meal Plan Subscriptions Worth the Cost?
- 53 Items Not to Buy at the Grocery Store
- Meal Planning 101 (plus save money each week)
- 12 Painless Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Jennifer Bigler is the blogger behind www.livingfreelyglutenfree.com. She is a wife and mother living on a budget and on a gluten free journey. Her goal is to help you on yours by bringing you lifestyle tips and delicious but healthy recipes made with simple ingredients.