If you’ve shopped for gluten-free products recently, you’ve noticed the prices have been going up. Just as prices are going up on all food products, gluten-free foods are also experiencing an increase. That should come as no surprise since food, energy, and other consumer prices have all been on the rise.
What’s Causing the Price Increase?
Prices have been going up for the last two years due to the Covid pandemic, which saw people buying food in large quantities. This led to food shortages that were made worse by supply chain problems. One thing has led to another.
In February this year, the news of war in Ukraine hit us all hard. The result has been horrific for the Ukrainians, there’s no question. However, the war has also affected markets across the world and is causing even more food shortages and supply chain problems.
Then we throw inflation into the mix and the result is prices that increase from day to day. One day, you may pay $6.89 for a loaf of gluten-free bread. The next day, that same loaf may be several cents more. It’s a scary time.
So, how are we gluten-free people to get through these hard times? It won’t be easy but there are some things you can do to keep the cost of gluten-free foods lower.
Manage Gluten-Free Food Costs
This won’t be easy, especially with prices increasing from one day to the next (in some cases). However, there are some things you can do to manage the cost of having to eat gluten-free.
Before You Shop
Hopefully, you have a budget in place. Having a budget helps to control spending and can even help save money. Figure out how much you spend on rent/mortgage, utilities, the car payment, health insurance, and more. Then calculate how much you have for groceries each week.
When you know how much you can spend, it’s much easier to manage your money and avoid overspending. You might even consider shopping with a calculator in your hand.
I used to shop this way when my kids were small and it was a great help. I could add up the total and know whether or not it fit in with my grocery budget for the week. If not, then I always put something back on the shelf, until the price was right, so to speak! There’s no shame in using a calculator at the store to make sure not to overspend.
It’s a good idea to do some research prices before you shop, too. This way, you’ll have an idea of how much the groceries on your list will cost. And during the research phase, you can also search for digital or printable coupons for money off your gluten free products.
Granted, those are more challenging to find but you may be able to find some coupons for gluten free products. Even a few cents off the grocery bill is money in your pocket.
1. Shop with a List
Be sure to shop with a list. Before you head out to shop, make sure to have a list of items to buy. Try to stick with only those items you need, especially if you’re on a tight budget (and who isn’t, these days?).
It can be challenging if you have one gluten-free person in the family and everyone else can eat normal food. However, here, too, you can save. For instance, count on making a batch of chicken noodle soup (gluten-free recipe) without the noodles! Why? Everyone in the family can eat the gluten-free chicken noodle soup without sacrificing taste.
The difference is in the noodles. Buy inexpensive regular noodles and the cheapest gluten-free pasta that's available. Make your soup, cook both kinds of noodles separately (watch out for cross-contamination) and serve gluten-free noodles to the family member who needs them, while everyone else has regular noodles. Then serve everyone some of the soup. You save money!
You can do the same with many other dishes, too, including beef stew, spaghetti, and so much more. Just be sure to make everything in large batches using gluten-free ingredients. For instance, stew usually needs thickening, so you’ll need to do that with a little gluten-free flour. It doesn’t take that much.
2. Shop the Perimeter of the Store
When you’re on a budget, one of the best ways to save is by shopping the perimeter of the store. The edge of the grocery store contains fresh foods. These are also foods that are naturally gluten-free. You’ll find fresh veggies, fruit, meat, dairy, and more.
By starting in the perimeter of the grocery store first, your shopping cart fills up with fresh, wholesome food. Save the center aisles for last. This is usually where stores put their processed foods. Most of these are not naturally gluten-free. Only by the things you really need in the center aisles. These include panty staples (flour, sugar, spices, beans, and more).
3. Avoid Buying Unnecessary Prepared Gluten-Free Products
Speaking of processed food, prepared gluten-free products can be just as unhealthy (and more expensive) as regular prepared foods. These foods are made with unhealthy ingredients, such as preservatives, unhealthy fats, and more.
Rather than buying prepared gluten-free foods, consider learning how to cook and bake from scratch. This is a great way to save money and you control the ingredients in the food you make. While it’s true you’ll use more energy and time to cook at home, the extra effort to prepare healthier foods at home pays out in savings and feeling better.
4. Buy Freezer Foods
Another way to save is by using your freezer! This goes along with cooking and baking at home. You can cook and bake larger batches of certain foods that freeze well.
For instance, some people create larger amounts of spaghetti sauce at one time. They use the sauce needed for the day’s meal and store the rest in the freezer for later. It’s a great way to save time, too. You can make your own prepared meals, which are also healthier than the products at the store.
When it comes to freezer foods, don’t overlook buying meat in bulk. Buying frozen veggies and fruit also saves money. They’re usually cheaper than fresh and healthier than canned fruits and vegetables. What’s more, frozen fruits and veggies don’t go bad like fresh ones. So, you save more by buying frozen and cutting down on the amount of food that gets thrown out. What could be better?
5. Find Deals Online
Researching or shopping online can help you save time and money, too. There are some online stores where you can save on gluten-free products. For instance, Amazon sells a wide variety of gluten-free products, from pancake mixes to crackers, and more.
There are other sites that also help you save on gluten-free foods. It just takes a little research to find these places and save.
Summing It Up
There’s no getting around the cost of food and gluten-free products rising to heights never imagined. It’s a scary time. Even so, there are things you can do to help keep costs down, even when you or someone in your family, has to eat gluten-free.
The extra effort is worth it to save money when you have to stay on a gluten-free diet for your health.
I’ll share more tips in future articles, including batch cooking and more!