by Meghan Newsom
Health & Gluten Free Recipes Contributor
It’s no secret that it’s expensive to eat well. It’s even more expensive if you are on a strict gluten free diet. The thing I hear most from friends and family as to why they don’t put better food inside their body is because it’s just too expensive.
While eating an organic plant-based diet IS a bit more expensive than the normal American diet, I have found lots of tricks to keeping our grocery budget low while still being able to enjoy a healthy whole foods diet in our home.
These 6 tricks to eating well on a tight budget have helped our family, and I know it will help yours as well!
1. PLAN PLAN PLAN!- Always plan ahead of time. Know what you are going to eat each night for dinner, and plan for lunches and breakfasts as well. While you are planning your menu, keep a piece of paper beside you to jot down specific items you will need from the grocery store. Take an inventory of your pantry as well and jot down any staple items you will need to re-stock for the week.
2. Budget– With our household, we keep a strict budget to keep us on track. We pay for things in cash and this really helps me not overspend when I go to the grocery store (since it’s the only place we are really allowed to spend money!). Taking cash with me helps me know that I’ve got to be extremely mindful of what I put into my shopping cart. It’s kind of embarrassing when you get to the check-out and you don’t have enough money to pay for everything!
3. Keep Staples On Hand- This little tip has helped me eliminate about $20 dollars a week from our budget. I keep brown rice, quinoa, dried beans, sushi rice, lentils and gluten free pasta on hand. By buying these items in bulk when our budget allows for it, I always have “filler” items for times when our budget runs out. Notice that I said DRIED BEANS instead of CANNED BEANS. Buying dried beans and cooking them in the crockpot then freezing them saves our family so much money. I also love that I know exactly what goes into our beans- just beans!! (no preservatives from the cans).
4. Make Your Own Snacks- Instead of buying processed, pre-packaged foods, I always make our own snacks. I make our own granola bars, pop our own popcorn and make our own “ice cream”. Whenever we have deserts, I either buy a Bob’s Red Mill mix that is on sale at Big Lots! OR make my own. The only pre-packaged snacks we buy are high-protein granola bars for my husband’s bike rides.
5. Produce- There are several ways to save on produce, and none of them involve shopping at a health food store or even your local grocery store. We have saved money by joining a local CSA, shopping at farmers markets (the best time to do this is when they are closing down and the farmers want to get rid of their produce), and recently shopping at locally owned grocery stores. There is a store in our area that sales only organic produce that they buy off of farmers at farmers markets. We are able to get a HUGE box of produce that will last us 2 weeks for only $35.00. I have several friends who are able to save money at co-ops as well as costco.
6. Stay Away From Pre-Packaged Foods– This little tip is especially helpful when you are on a gluten free diet. Gluten Free packaged foods are a lot more expensive than their gluten-contaning counterparts. When you can, stay away from prepackaged foods and opt to make your own. I do this in our home by making our own dressings, our own popcorn, french fries, salads etc. There are some prepackaged foods that are staples in our home like cereals and condiments. But, as a general rule pre-packaged foods can really add onto your grocery bill.
Do you have any tried-and-true ways you help your family save money on your grocery budget? We’d love to hear your ideas!