Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Gluten Free Cookbooks Free on Amazon

Photo credit:  Luchian_Alexandru

How are you doing on your gluten free diet? Are you having a hard time finding yummy recipes? Then check out these free gluten free cookbooks on Amazon!

Baking Gluten-Free Bread:  Simple Recipes for Busy Moms offers a nice variety of gluten free breads to bake at home. The Amazon blurb says that this cookbook for people of all levels, including simple recipes for newbies. You’ll find recipes for pumpkin waffles, sandwich and white breads, along with sweet breads, such as chocolate bread and cranberry walnut bread. You’ll also find recipes for several types of muffins.
Paleo Snacks:  Health Gluten-Free Snacks the Family Will Love offers a wide variety of healthy snacks that are Paleo and gluten free. You’ll find 50 recipes, including fruit and vegetable snacks, protein snacks, Paelo chips and bars, along with frozen treats.
Paleo Chicken Slow Cooker Recipes:  Simple Gluten Free Crockpot Recipes offers a wide variety of slow cooker chicken dishes. These recipes are both gluten free and Paleo. Crockpot cooking is a great way to save money and cook nutritious food. You’ll find recipes such as herbed chicken, sweet and sour chicken, garlic chicken tenders with balsamic drizzle and much more.

Gluten Free Desserts:  30 Delicious Gluten Free Dessert Recipes offers a yummy selection of gluten free desserts. You’ll find recipes for chocolate cake, brownies, cookies and more. The recipes use ingredients you have in your gluten free pantry, such as white rice flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, etc.
30 Gluten Free Healthy Breakfast Recipes – Everday Easy Breakfast Recipes will make a nice addition to your cookbook library. You’ll find recipes such as smoothies, eggs, omelettes, waffles, pancakes and more. These recipes will be great for everyday breakfast or breakfast brunches.

These books were free at the time of this posting; however, prices are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee these cookbooks will still be free when you read this post. 

That’s all for today!


Crock Pot Hearty Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables

Stews and soups are easy on your budget and provide a hearty and flavorful meal packed with nutrients. Choose cheaper cuts of meat when cooking with your crock pot. The low temperatures and long cooking time works to make the meat tender; you won’t even need a knife to cut it!

1 ½ lbs. beef stew meat (top round, or beef chuck) cut into 2-inch cubes
½ cup gluten free flour (for covering beef)
5 grinds of Steakhouse Grinder (or similar—optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large Ziploc plastic bag
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil), divided
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 can diced tomatoes (including the juice)
4 cups low-sodium, gluten free beef broth
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced (as you prefer)
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced (optional)

1). Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into crock pot, then brush oil on the sides and bottom to make sure the entire inside of the pot is covered. Or use non-stick spray to cover the entire inside of the pot. This will keep stew from sticking to the sides and bottom of the crock.

Carrots, potatoes, parsnips and tomatoes in pot. 

2). Put carrots, potatoes, parsnips and tomatoes into the crock pot, stir together. 

3). In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper and Steakhouse grinder spices. Pour flour and spice mix into a large Ziploc bag, add meat and shake, till meat is thoroughly covered with flour mixture. Set aside.

Browning the meat

4). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes; then add meat (covered with flour) and cook till browned, about 5-10 minutes. Stir meat to keep it from burning and/or sticking to the pan. Pour meat mixture into crock.

5). Put the frying pan back on the heat and fill with about ¼ cup of beef broth or water, let boil. While the broth boils, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove cooked on bits of meat and then pour this liquid into the crock.

6). Add broth and stir until everything is evenly mixed.

7). Set the crock pot to cook for 5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

8). When stew is done, remove bay leaf and serve.

This recipe can also be made on the stove in a stock pot or Dutch oven. Follow the recipe, but put the tomatoes, juices, broth and meat mixture into the stock pot (or Dutch oven) and bring to a boil. Turn down the temperature and let simmer for about an hour (until meat is tender). Then add carrots, potatoes and parsnips and cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes) more.

You can easily keep the stew in the refrigerator for about 3 days, no longer. The stew freezes well—you can keep up for up to 2 to three months.

Variations:  You can add any root vegetables you prefer to this recipe. You can also use different spices, such as Italian spices, to change the flavor.

Thanks for stopping by!


Czech Off the Beaten Path

BellaOnline Asthma Site
Sher’s Kindle Bookshelf
Sher’s Stuff

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Free Gluten Free Cookbooks

Photo by EmmiP

It's that time of the week again--Thursday Free Gluten Free Cookbooks day! Each Thursday I comb through the cookbooks on Amazon for the best gf cookbooks available for free. Giving free cookbooks a try is not only a great way to save money, but you'll also learn different techniques and how to work with various alternative flours. You'll also gain experience and build a large stock of gluten free recipes for you and your family.

Here are this week's free gluten free cookbooks!

Gluten Free Cookbook:  Easy Everyday Recipes for Good Health
The Gluten Free Cookbook:  Easy Everyday Recipes for Good Health offers simple and easy gluten free recipes for anyone who’s chosen the gluten free lifestyle. Not only is this book filled with great recipes, you’ll also find a wealth of information about living gluten free, including how to stock your gf pantry, a list of gluten free substitutions and foods that are on a “No-No” list, and much more. In addition, each recipe comes with nutritional information, so you’ll know how many calories, etc. that each dish contains.

The Only Gluten Free Cookbook You’ll Ever Need
The Only Gluten Free Cookbook You’ll Ever Need is filled with information on gluten and how much better you’ll feel once you’ve gotten rid of the gluten in your diet. This cookbook promises recipes that will demonstrate “bland” doesn’t have to be part of your gf life. You’ll find the recipes use simple ingredients for quick and easy meals.
40 Delicious Coconut Flour Recipes – Gluten Free Recipes for the Whole Family
This cookbook is a great introduction to cooking and baking with coconut flour. Coconut flour seems to be popular these days, but I’ve not tried it yet. We don’t have all of these alternative flours available in the Czech Republic, but when I’m home next, I want to give coconut flour a try. 40 Delicious Coconut flour recipes offers recipes ranging from breads to cookies, pancakes and more.

Polly Dunegan’s 20 Amazing Gluten-Free Bread Recipes (Gluten Solution)
You’ll be able to easily satisfy your hunger for bread this Polly Dunegan’s 20 Amazing Gluten-Free Bread Recipes. This book offers bread recipes like these:  gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, French bread, yeast-free dinner rolls and much more. In addition, you’ll find bonus recipes including pizza crust, substitution ideas, and more recipes. These bread recipes are tasty and easy to make, in addition to being healthy!

Give these cookbooks a try and if you have a chance, leave a comment here to share your views on the cookbook and recipes you tried. If you have a chance, it's also a great idea to leave a comment for the author on Amazon. It really does help to know what readers like and don't like about our books! Thank you!

These books were free at the time of this posting; however, prices are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee these cookbooks will still be free when you read this post. 

That’s all for today!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Free Gluten Free CookBooks

Pizza Gluten Free Recipes
Photo by beglib

Another week’s gone by—where has the time gone? It’s time for another Thursday Free Gluten Free Cookbooks day already. This week’s cookbooks are on the topics of slow cooking, gluten-free vegan and Paleo Italian foods!

Slow Cooker Recipes:  30 Simple and Easy Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow Cooker Recipes:  30 Simple and Easy Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes offers a wide variety of easy and healthy gluten free meals. You’ll find recipes for lemon pepper chicken, turkey stuffed peppers, beef stroganoff and much more.
Slow cooking is a great way to create thrifty, convenient and healthy meals. Your slow cooker uses a lot less energy than cooking with your stovetop or oven, and it keeps your kitchen from heating up during the summer. Your crock pot can be started in the morning and when you get home, a nutritious and tasty meal will be waiting.
Gluten-Free Vegan: Health Everyday Recipes in Under 30 Minutes
Gluten-Free Vegan: Health Everyday Recipes in Under 30 Minutes offers recipes that are both quick to fix and nutritious, without sacrificing flavor and the “yum factor.” You’ll find recipes for gluten-free vegan meals that can be fixed in 10 minutes, salad recipes, lunch and dinner recipes. Dinner recipes include lasagna and pizza.
Gluten Free Vegetarian-The Ultimate Recipe Guide
Gluten Free Vegetarian – The Ultimate Recipe Guide offers gluten free vegetarian recipes. You’ll find recipes for snacks, such as maple syrup and peanut butter rounds, Greek salad, roasted asparagus and tomato pasta and much more. The recipes use alternative flours such as almond, coconut and teff and include healthy proteins such as lentils, beans and tofu.

Paleo Italian:  Pizza – Delicious, Quick & Simple Paleo Recipes:  Paleo Cookbook for the Paleo Lifestyle – Paleo Recipe for Pizza Night
Who would have thought of Paleo pizza? The Paleo Italian:  Pizza – Delicious, Quick & Simple Paleo Recipes offers 8 pizza crust recipes with 15 topping combination ideas, 2 Paleo cheese recipes and 5 sauce variations, including spreads and dressings! These recipes make use of alternative flours, including almond and coconut flours. 

These books were free at the time of this posting; however, prices are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee these cookbooks will still be free when you read this post. 

That’s all for today!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gluten Free Taco Seasoning Recipe

Gluten Free Tacos
 Gluten Free Tacos
Photo by Sher Vacik

Planning meals on a budget is challenging by itself, but meal planning becomes tougher when you have to cook gluten free. You might consider fixing  your family’s favorite Mexican foods at home, from scratch. Mexican food can become a gluten free fiesta with simple, inexpensive ingredients.

One of the nice things about many Mexican dishes is that meat becomes a side, rather than the main part of the meal. Many Mexican recipes call for beef, chicken or pork; using the ground versions of these meats make your meat stretch farther. You can stretch the meat out even farther with the addition of simple ingredients, such as cheddar cheese, rice, lettuce, tomatoes and more. Such sides and toppings can make a Mexican dinner very healthy and low-fat, too. Mexican food adds a  nice variety to your gluten free diet with a mix of flavors and textures not found in other foods.

You can buy taco and enchilada seasoning packets at the store; however, many of these contain wheat. To save money and avoid the wheat/gluten, make your own taco seasoning at home. Here’s a simple recipe that is versatile and tastes much like the taco seasoning you find at the store.

Gluten Free Taco Seasoning Recipe

1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a small mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Store in an airtight container. This mix is about the same amount as store-bought taco seasoning packets.

This is a versatile seasoning recipe—it’s easy to increase or decrease certain spices to fit your family’s taste preferences. This recipe is also easy to make in batches, and then freeze individual portions it in ziploc bags (2-3 tablespoons/bag) ready to use the next time you want to make a Mexican dinner.

Cooking Directions
You use this taco seasoning mix in the same way as the store-bought versions.

1 pound ground meat (beef, pork, chicken or turkey) or chicken, sliced thinly
2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
¾ cup water

1). Brown meat in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Drain fat.

2). Stir in 2-3 tablespoons (more or less, according to your preference) and the water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3). Spoon meat into warmed taco shells or tortillas, then serve with assorted toppings.

Gluten free Mexican dinner side dishes.
Suggested sides for your Mexican dinner.
Topping ideas 
Grated cheddar cheese
Sliced lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Sour cream
Mexican beans
Spanish rice
(Note--Always be sure to read the labels on all food items and ingredients you plan to use. Manufacturers sometimes change their recipes without notice.)

You can use this seasoning to make tacos, burritos and much more. In addition, you can buy corn tortillas or taco shells, and buy regular tortillas for the gluten-eaters in your home.

That’s all for today!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Free Gluten Free Cookbooks Thurday

This week I found a couple of free gluten free cookbooks to share with you. Again, these cookbooks offer a variety of recipes. Variety on a restricted diet is a good thing, as it helps you stay motivated to make the diet work. Staying gluten free is imperative when you have celiac, some form of gluten intolerance or allergies.

The Gluten Free Goodness Snack Recipes cookbook offers snack recipes that will add some zing to your life. Snack recipes include spicy chicken bites, bacon quesadilla, chicken taquitos, ants on a log and more. You can use these snacks for every day, keep them on hand for an on-the-go-snack, or serve them up as hors d’oeuvres at parties and other gatherings.

30 Gluten Free Meals – Tasty Gluten Free Dinner Recipes to Try Tonight (Gluten Free Cookbook – The Gluten Free Recipes Collection) 
30 Gluten Free Meals offers a nice variety of comfort foods, including roast pork tenderloin, roasted chicken and meatloaf! Each of these recipes can be cooked up for an easy dinner. The recipes are easy to follow and you’ll even find some one-pot recipes to make a quick supper for your family!
That’s it for this week’s free gluten free cookbooks! If you use one of these cookbooks, please leave a review for the author. Reviews help writers know more about what their readers are looking for. Plus it makes a writer feel good to know their work helped someone out.

These books were free at the time of this posting; however, prices are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee these cookbooks will still be free when you read this post. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gluten Free Recipe Roundup

Swirling Chocolate

I have a bunch of gluten free recipes from over the years; now I have to go through and make them, take pictures and post them here! While the recipe gathering process is coming along, I’ll start sharing recipes from around the web that I’ve tried. This will be called Gluten Free Recipe Roundup and I’ll share these each Monday, at least that’s the plan. If it gets too hard to find new recipes, then I’ll do this once a month. For now, we’ll try it every Monday.

Here are today’s gluten free recipes from around the web! These recipes are perfect for chocoholics. I’ve tried each of these and recommend highly recommend them!

Gluten Free Brownie Mix
This Gluten Free Brownie Mix is quick and easy to make, using ingredients I typically have on hand. The dry ingredients can be mixed and put in a jar for a gift—or made up to keep on hand for when you need something quick and easy to bake. All you need to add are “wet ingredients”:  eggs, vanilla and butter or margarine. This recipe’s easy and tastes wonderful. Wait till you smell these brownies! I have to leave out the nuts, due to my nut allergies; however, I can imagine these brownies would taste very rich with walnuts.

I’ve made this recipe numerous times over the last couple of months and have had rave reviews each time. The rave reviews were all from gluten-eaters.

MD (my husband) prefers a thin layer of frosting on the brownies, so I make a glaze with powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and cocoa (or melted chocolate). You could also use a light dusting of powdered sugar to top off these brownies.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
I found this recipe a few years ago and it quickly became a favorite at our house. The One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe is quick and easy—kids can easily bake this cake. The recipe makes use of ingredients you already have on hand, including vinegar. The vinegar works with the baking soda as a leavening agent, giving the cake a nice springy texture. You can’t taste the vinegar in this chocolaty recipe. The cake’s also not too sweet, and comes out moist (if you don’t over bake it).
This one bowl chocolate cake tastes great with vanilla or chocolate frosting. If you’re a chocoholic like me, then you’ll prefer chocolate frosting.

Brownies in a Mug
This is a little gem of a recipe I came across on HubPages a couple months ago. Brownies in a Mug is just that—you make individual brownies in a coffee mug or a ramekin. These brownies are easy and economical; on top of that, they taste heavenly! This recipe comes in handy when you don’t need or feel like baking an entire brownie recipe. You can easily use them as a novel dessert for a nice dinner with your family or with guests.

I was skeptical of how the brownies would come out in the microwave, but these taste like regular brownies. They will stay moist—just be careful to not over-microwave them! In addition, baking with the microwave takes a short time, uses less energy than a regular oven and doesn’t heat up the whole kitchen.

I followed this recipe exactly, but substituted 1 ½ tablespoons of rice flour for the wheat flour. Again, I made a little powdered sugar chocolate frosting to top them off. They tasted wonderful!

That’s all for this week’s Gluten Free Recipe Roundup! If you use one of these recipes, please leave a comment as to you liked it or what changes you made, including variations!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Free Gluten Free Cookbooks Thursday

Shredded coconut
Source:  mconnors

Thursday again—already! The days seem to fly by! Thursdays are free gluten free cookbook days, here, at Thrifty and Gluten Free. Looking for free recipes and free cookbooks is a great way to save money on your gluten free diet. I’ve done this for years. These days there’s a wealth of free gluten free material online, which is a blessing for those of us who need to be thrifty and gluten free.

Today’s cookbooks include a two-book package on using coconut and almond flour in gluten free recipes, recipes as seen on Food Network, bacon recipes and much more! 

Gluten-Free Flour Book Package:  The Coconut Flour Cookbook & the Almond Flour Cookbook
Cooking and baking with almond flour is a great way to add nutrients to your gluten free diet. In addition, almond flour is low in carbs and sugar, and high in fiber. You’ll find recipes for pancakes, desserts, snacks and bread.
The second cookbook in this package offers recipes with coconut flour. Coconut flour is high fiber and low carb, making another healthy option for those of us on a gf diet. Reviewers on Amazon say the book offers a variety of recipes that are simple and yummy.

As Seen on Food Network:  Gluten Free Recipes (Gluten Free for Everyday Eating)
You’ll find gluten free recipes for everything from breakfast meals to gluten free entrees and more in this cookbook. This book offers a wide variety of recipes, making it easy to stay on you gluten free diet. You will eat well by adding this cookbook to your gluten free library.

Bodacious Bacon:  Paleo and Gluten-Free Recipes for Bacon Lovers
This bacon cookbook offers 30 bacon recipes, ranging from starters, entrees and sides to snacks and desserts. Yes—bacon desserts! What’s more, these recipes are completely paleo! If you love bacon, don’t pass up this gluten free bacon cookbook!

Gluten Free Recipe Cookbook:  Global Gastronomic Adventures Presents A Real Taste of Gluten Free Cooking:  Simple and Easy Gluten Free Recipes (Global Gastronomic Presents a Real Taste of Gluten Free)
You’ll find food adventures in this gluten free cookbook. The book offers 10 gluten free recipes from around the world, including such dishes as pumpkin chicken curry, falafel, chicken and asparagus risotto and much more! If you’d like to try some gf dishes that would spice up your day, then be sure to check out this cookbook!

That’s it for this week’s Free Gluten Free Thursday!
Please note—I have not yet tried these cookbooks, so I’m not able to review them. However, these are free and it’s worth giving them a try!

These books were free at the time of this posting; however, prices are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee these cookbooks will still be free when you read this post. 

Thanks for stopping by!


Czech Off the Beaten Path
BellaOnline Asthma Site
Sher’s Kindle Bookshelf
Sher’s Stuff
Asthma’s Nothing to Wheeze At!

Welcome to Thrifty and Gluten Free!

Welcome to my new Thrifty and Gluten Free blog, where I’m going to share ideas on frugal living on a gluten free diet. As this blog grows, you’ll find grocery coupons, tips for gluten free cooking and much more.

I’ve been gluten free for over 14 years, after being diagnosed with multiple allergies (including food allergies) and asthma. In those days, I was a single mother of two kids living on a very tight budget. These days, my kids are grown and on their own, and I’m now living as an expat in the Czech Republic. The lessons learned about being thrifty and living gluten free have been applied to my expat life, too.

When I was first diagnosed with gluten/wheat allergy, there were not as many gluten and wheat free products on the market, as there are now. My doctor told me to stay away from all wheat and gluten products. Well, once I started reading labels, it was soon obvious that staying away from gluten and wheat was going to take a lot of work. This new diet also proved to be very expensive.

It was about this time I ran into a cookbook called The Gluten Free Gourmet, by Bette Hagman.  This book was literally a godsend. Hagman developed recipes that were easy and tasted great. The texture and taste took a little time to get used to, but with her cookbook I was able to more easily make the transition to a gluten free life. The Gluten Free Gourmet became my gluten free “bible,” teaching me how to bake and cook the wheat free way.

Since that time I’ve learned how to adapt “real” recipes to their gluten free versions. I also save money by using simple and easy to find gluten free flours, such as rice flour, potato flour, potato starch, etc. This blog will share what I’ve learned over the years, and what I continue to learn about better wheat and gluten free cooking.

You can find some of my recipes on HubPages, too! 

Thanks for stopping by and my hope is you’ll find helpful information and yummy recipes to help you on your own gluten and wheat free journey!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gluten Free Tomato Zucchini Soup

Tomato Zucchini Soup

Soups are a great way to save money on any diet plan, including the gluten free diet. Before going gluten free, I occasionally made soup from a can. Boy, I had no idea what I was missing! After diagnosis, canned soups became a thing of the past; I had to learn to cook from scratch. Soup was the very first gluten free meal I made and ate! It was a simple microwave potato soup. Nowadays, with a little more experience, I’ve branched out into all different types of soup. They are a mainstay for my Czech husband and me.

Czechs typically begin lunch and dinner with soup, rarely eating it as the main course. After moving to the Czech Republic, I had to learn how to cook different types of soup. Eating the same kind day after day gets tiring very fast. As a result, I’ve done many internet searches for simple soup recipes over the years. Tonight, I made one of our favorites—Tomato and Zucchini Soup.
This soup is packed with nutrients and flavor, plus it’s easy to add your own variations to the base recipe. Tonight, I fixed soup and a main dish salad. The salad was made with lettuce, tomatoes, grated carrots, Italian hard cheese, and leftover schnitzel chicken from last night’s supper. We also had some crusty bread with our meal.

Our entire supper was created using ingredients I already had in the fridge. This is a great way to save money—cooking with what you already have on hand. You can save a lot of money by using up leftovers and other ingredients before they expire or spoil.

Now on to the recipe! This recipe is husband tested and approved!

Tomato and Zucchini Soup

1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (or more to your preference), minced
2 tablespoons rice flour (or other gluten free flour)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or 4 cups of water and 2 chicken or vegetable bullion cubes)
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
5 grinds of Italian grinder (*see note below)
Salt and pepper to taste

1). In a small mixing bowl or colander, lay zucchini slices and sprinkle with salt. Let stand about 30 minutes.

2). In a large stock pot, heat vegetable oil or butter over medium high heat. Sautee onion and garlic until onion is translucent (about 10 minutes).

3). Stir in rice flour, then add about ½ cup of chicken broth and stir until rice flour has been dissolved. Add remaining chicken broth, spices, salt, pepper and tomato; simmer for 10 minutes and then add zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes.

4). Serve and enjoy!

Variations:  This evening I included a little bit of rice in the soup, to make it more filling. You could also add chicken or other meat, or include lentils in your soup.

Makes 6 servings

Serving suggestions: you can use this soup as a starter, or serve soup and salad, together with some crusty bread. This soup’s also good on its own!

*Note: I use McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder. It appears to be gluten free. Please be sure to check the label or check McCormick's website to ensure this product is still gluten free, as recipes do change from time-to-time.

Czech Off the Beaten Path
BellaOnline Asthma Site
Sher’s Kindle Bookshelf
Sher’s Stuff
Asthma’s Nothing to Wheeze At!

Friday, February 28, 2014

20 Tips to Save Money on a Gluten Free Diet

Photo by mconnors
Going gluten free is a big job and it can be expensive—I know that first-hand. I was diagnosed with wheat/gluten allergies in midlife, when I was a single mother with two teenagers to feed and a strict budget. I was afraid of adding gluten free food into the mix and upsetting my struggling budget even further. With time, patience and practice I learned how to save money on our entire grocery budget.

Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to save money on my gluten free lifestyle. Keep in mind we’re all different with different circumstances—not all of these ideas may work for you. However, maybe these tips will spark an idea that will work for you!

1.      Buy staples on sale and in bulk:  staples include beans, rice, canned tomatoes, canned fruit, gluten free flour, gluten free pasta, etc. Keeping your pantry stocked with the staples you use most often saves money and enables you to stay on a gluten free diet. If you run out of staples, you may be tempted to use the non-gluten free version. That type of behavior will hurt your health!

2.      Look for regular products that are naturally gluten free, such as some yogurts, cereals, etc. You’ll avoid paying extra for the gluten free versions, and as a result saving a lot of money on your grocery budget. Be sure to always read the labels to make sure you’re buying a gluten free product.

3.      Cook from scratch and avoid convenience foods. You can grind your own gluten free flour, buy dry beans rather than canned, make your own snacks and more. Cooking from scratch saves money, and your meals will be more nutritious as a result. I used to think cooking from scratch took too much effort; however, with a little organization it doesn’t take much longer than using convenience foods. Cut up onions in advance—it’s easy to chop up onions for your week ahead and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to use when you need them. The same goes for lettuce and other ingredients.

4.      Eat more meatless or vegetarian meals. Cut down on the amount of meat in your diet and replace it with healthy vegetarian ingredients. Beans (legumes) are a great source of protein and they’re filling. Quinoa is a grain full of protein and lots of important nutrients. Noodle and pasta dishes can be filling and nutritious, while saving your grocery budget. You might consider dishes such as vegetarian lasagna, mac & cheese, bean enchiladas…peanut butter and jelly sandwich (served on gf bread)—all of these main dish courses can be made healthy and cheap.

5.      Make your own snacks and desserts.  You can make your own chips, crackers, cookies and cakes from scratch. Mixes are expensive, but cooking from scratch saves a lot of money. Plus, you can control the amount of fat, salt, etc. in your creations, while avoiding preservatives and other chemicals.

6.      Eat breakfast for supper.  This is a fun change for any type of diet and it can be filling and satisfying. Omelettes, quiche, pancakes and waffles are all good examples of versatile breakfast foods that make a great dinner. You could fill omelettes and quiches with lots of vegetables; include bacon and sausage as sides with pancakes and waffles, etc.

7.      Eat more pasta. This one word, alone, says it all. Pasta is versatile, satisfying and filling. Here, again, you can combine pasta with vegetables, smaller amounts of meat—combined with different sauces and served with a small green salad on the side, making a healthy and filling meal.

8.      Make a main dish soup. Soup is another dish that’s versatile, filling and satisfying. You can make it with most any vegetable and meat ingredients you have on hand. You can make it in the crock pot, in the oven or on the stove—making just the right amount needed for your meal. Soup can also be fixed ahead and stored in the fridge or the freezer, making it a great meal to have on hand for those days you don’t feel like cooking or you need a meal in a hurry.

9.      Use leftovers creatively. Rather than reheating last night’s meal for tonight’s supper, why not take your leftovers and make something new? Leftover roasted chicken is wonderful for soups or salads, leftover ground beef can be used to make spaghetti meat sauce, etc. Leftovers, creatively used, will have a new taste and you won’t get tired of eating the same thing again the next day.

10.   Watch for sales and specials on the products you typically use.

11.   Use cheaper cuts of meat. Using cheaper cuts of meat will leave the protein in your diet, while saving money. Slow-cooking is a good way to cook cheaper cuts, leaving them fall-apart tender and full of flavor.

12.   Create gluten free main dishes for your whole family. Cooking one meal, rather than two separate meals, saves both time and money. You can make a batch of gluten free spaghetti sauce, and then cook one pot of gluten free spaghetti for gluten free family members and fix regular spaghetti for the rest of the family, with all of you eating the same spaghetti sauce.

13.   Cook with foods that are naturally gluten free:  fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, meats, poultry and fish. Not only are these foods naturally gluten free, they are also packed with nutrition. Be sure to avoid fresh foods that come in any type of sauce, such as marinade, etc.

14.   Use the cheapest flours in the beginning. Until you get the hang of cooking and baking gluten free, buy inexpensive flours, rather than more expensive alternative flours. Rice flour’s one of the cheapest. When you feel more comfortable and confident, then move on to more expensive alternative flours. You can even try grinding your own rice flour.

15.   Never throw away mistakes. Bette Hagman says this in her cookbook, The Gluten Free Gourmet. The ingredients you’ve bought are too expensive to throw away. Instead, save failed breads, cookies, etc. You can use dried bread crumbs to make meatloaf, hamburgers, meatballs and even use it as breading on chicken or vegetables. Failed cookies can be used to make a pie crust or cheese cake. You can even use crumbled cookies in ice cream recipes. You can also save crumbled potato or corn chips to use in your gluten free cooking. I keep a bag of bread crumbs and one of cookies crumbs in my freezer, so they’re fresh and ready to use when needed for a recipe.

16.   Adapt your favorite recipes to gluten free, as you gain experience and confidence, it will become easier to adapt your favorite recipes to gluten free versions. Keep recipes organized in a notebook or binder. You can also keep a digital version of your recipes on your computer or tablet. Find the method that works best for you and stick with it. In no time you’ll have your own go-to gluten free recipe cookbook.

17.   To start out, you don’t need expensive kitchen gadgets to cook or bake gluten free foods. I cook and bake with no bread machine, no powerful mixer or food processor. I don’t even own a blender. This has more to do with my moving overseas. I had a grain mill, bread machine and a blender before moving, but these all had to be left behind. I was in a new marriage and we were in effect just starting out. So, expensive gadgets were not possible and I had to relearn how to cook and bake without these kitchen wonders. You can make wonderful creations with only simple tools. The tools I currently have are:

·        Two whisks
·        Wooden rolling pin
·        3 mixing bowls (2 glass and one 1 metal)
·        Knives, forks and spoons (a set of sharp knives, regular dinner silverware)
·        Measuring spoon ring, one set of measuring cups
·        Microwave/convection oven (counter top)
·        Crock pot
·        Hand mixer (yes, like the old fashioned kind!)
·        Misc. other kitchen items—wooden spoons, skewers, cookie cutters, baking pans, cookie sheets and jelly roll pan, muffin pan, stick blender.
·        Electric frying pan and an indoor electric grill (small—on counter top)

I’m the first to agree that a food processor would make a wonderful addition to my kitchen tools, to say nothing of making it easier to create some gluten free foods. But it’s not necessary. A hundred years ago, people  didn’t have these kitchen gadgets available, and yet they managed to create fantastical food creations of all types.

18.   Look for free gluten free cookbooks on Amazon and other sites. You can also find many gf recipes online at recipe sites and on blogs. Checkout this blog every Thursday when I share free gluten free cookbooks from Amazon! You can also find free recipes on blogs and other sites on the web.

19.   Cook and eat at home, rather than eating out. This saves an enormous amount of money—gluten free diet or not.

20.   Relax and have fun experimenting with your gluten free diet. With practice you’ll gain more confidence and your cooking will be so good that even your gluten free family and friends will enjoy eating it with you!

These are some of the things I’ve learned living a gluten free lifestyle. It’s important to set yourself up for success. You can do this by starting out with simple ingredients and tools. As you gain confidence and experience, you can begin experimenting with flour mixes, recipes of all kinds and even adding kitchen tools that make cooking easier. Do what works for you—so you'll stay on your gluten free diet and end up being healthier and happier, while also saving money!