Home > food, gluten free > Gluten Free Food on the Cheap

Gluten Free Food on the Cheap

May 20, 2011

Once a doctor or health professional tells you that you need to go gluten free, your whole world just turns upside down. I know that it may be hard to believe, but it feels like that. Imagine walking into the supermarket and knowing that half the food in there you cannot eat because it makes you ill. That for everything you have to eat from now on you have to know what’s in it, you need to know where it’s from and you need to read every single label.

It is not fun.

It is however, necessary.

The annoying part (besides having to read every single label or ask ‘what’s in it’) is that gluten free food is always much more expensive.

For example, the pasta I buy is the cheapest gluten free pasta there is. Its a 500gm bag and from Coles it is $3.10.

Orgran is a well known gluten free label, their pasta comes in 250gm packets for $2.89.

Normal pasta you can get as cheap as 500gm pkt for 59 cents!

I had a comment from one of my readers last week who said that her shopping budget has gone out the window since her doctor advised her to go gluten free. Did I have any tips to do gluten free cheap?

I am a self confessed bargain hunter so it kills me (and my own budget) to pay a fortune for gluten free food. So yes I have some tips.

Back to the Basics

I totally agree with another reader who answered in the same thread, go back to the basics. Fresh fruit and vegetables. They are your best friends. Buy in season and you are all set for the basis for your meals and snacks. Not to mention they are the healthiest food you can eat.

Rice

Rice is wonderful base for meals. And it is cheap! You can make risottos, rice based quiche, risotto balls, fried rice. It also makes a great side dish.

Meat

Ok, some meat is not cheap. And some of it has gluten so be very careful when buying it. I am a vegetarian so I am no authority on gluten free meat. I do see supermarkets with gluten free sausages and ham. Anything else I don’t know so check with your butcher. Most supermarkets have butchers on site so don’t be shy to ask them.

Fish

Similar story with fish as with meat. Ask before purchase, fish from a fish monger is generally ok. I buy fresh fish from these guys, budget permitting as it can be pricey. If you are a regular reader you will know I have many tuna recipes on this site. That’s because it is something we all will eat, from the toddler to the husband. It’s gluten free (check the label!) and it’s cheap.

Canned pink and red salmon is also a healthy option. It is also cheap in comparison¬† to fresh salmon but is still very good for you. And convenient. Canned fish is something you can buy and stock on the cupboard and it won’t go off but is a fantastic main ingredient.

Eggs

Eggs are such power packs and such a versatile food. They are great for quiches and frittatas as well as handy for cakes and muffins.

Beans

Oh I almost forgot beans! Canned chickpeas, kidney beans and 4 bean mix are fantastic and so cheap. As they are full of protein they can be the base of any meal. I make a bean and tomato mix that is great with pasta, rice or baked tomatoes.

Gluten Free Cheap Snacks

Ok, I know what you are thinking. That’s great for meals but what about the fun stuff, what about snacks, biscuits and those sorts of thing?

Well yes, that can be tricky. You buy those packets of gluten free biscuits and cakes and that is where your money goes. A packet of gluten free biscuits will set you back $4+

The cheapest way to get gluten free snacks is to buy your own flour and make your own. I buy Orgran Gluten Free flours, I find them cheapest at Coles: 500gms for $2.99

Then once you have the flour, things like eggs, sugars, cocoa powder are all ‘normal’ so they are the normal food prices. You can make many things like pikelets, cupcakes, muffins, fruit slice. Check out my Gluten Free Recipes page for those recipes.

I also get Real  Food Rice Cakes, they are about $2 from supermarkets. You can put anything on them, tomato and cheese, tinned tuna or even Mighty Mite, peanut butter, jam, anything like that.

Popping your own corn is another very cheap snack. Our popcorn maker gets a good work out.  Corn kernals are only $1 Р$2 a pack.

Plain rice crackers are fantastic on their own or with dips. Buy them for the biscuit aisle, both Coles and Woolworths have their own brand that are gluten free. Usually about $1.40 a packet. Dips can be cheap, again check the ingredients. Salsa is yummy also with rice crackers and you can get them for $2 a jar if you get the Coles brand.

I hope this helps some of you out there and if anyone has any other cheap gluten free food tips I would love to hear them!

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If you have just found out you need to be gluten free, check out my 10 Tips to Get Started Being Gluten Free post.

image: karimian
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  1. Taryn
    May 20, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Great post hon. I was checking this off all in my head as I read it. We eat similarly. My only issue is bread. Gave up on making it and have discovered Zenders bread. My fruit shop gets it in frozen from QLD. It’s great. But at $8.29 a loaf u gotta portion it!. I live on rice! Baking your own treats certainly is much cheaper. Winning cake mixes from your blog also assists greatly! Xxxx

    • nellbe
      May 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Love it when you leave a comment Taryn. Bread is a treat for me. Amazing isn’t it that a block of chocolate is cheaper than gluten free bread? I buy it rarely myself, I get the Lifestyle Chia Loaf that I road tested a few weeks ago, it is amazing! I hope you are enjoying those mixes.

  2. May 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Hi, this is a great list, thanks… I’ve recently stopped eating wheat but find it easier just to go gluten free. I get funny comments if I say ‘wheat-free’ but people seem to get ‘gluten free’ much more easily.

    I’m finding that nuts, seeds and brown rice are my new best friends but they are more expensive than the wheat-based foods so I just try to eat a bit less. Because they contain more calories and nutrients I feel like I require less to feel satisfied. They taste better too! I made spaghetti bolognaise for my husband and son the other night and I had the same sauce as them but with brown rice – soooo much nicer than pasta ever tasted! And although it was an extra pot to wash, the brown rice cost less than the pasta.

    Someone once told me that when you cut gluten out of your diet don’t focus on what you can’t have but focus on what you can have and the opportunities for discovery will be endless.

    • nellbe
      May 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Kate, thanks heaps for coming past. Great tip on the brown rice, thanks! It also reminded me that I forgot to mention beans. I’ll have to amend my post above to include them.

  3. Heda
    May 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Excellent post. Budgeting since gluten-free has been a challenge. I’m going to look out for the breads that have been recommended. I’ve tried lots but am always ready to try a new brand. My favourite bread so far is Dovedale Chia Multiseed which is stocked at some Coles stores. It needs to be toasted well but it doesn’t have any egg and it tastes like real toast. Delish!

    • nellbe
      May 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Hmmm.. can’t say I have seen the Dovedale bread myself but shall keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the recommendation (and the comment)

  4. July 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I like to make my own flour mix – i buy 5kg bags of brown rice flour (i can get heaps of other types at my local HFS) and mix in equal quantities with maize / corn flour (i can buy larger quantities of maize flour, and it gives cakes etc a nice colour) and tapioca starch. just mix really well before us. i usually try to mix up a large container of it (probably 6-7kg) so it lasts for a while. add baking powder for SR :)

    • nellbe
      July 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Great tip!! Thanks for sharing this, I must try it out.

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