Ducks 'n a Row: Money Saving Tips - Special Diets Don't Have to Break the Bank!

23 April 2012

Money Saving Tips - Special Diets Don't Have to Break the Bank!
Diets are expensive! This three part series by Mary Hudak-Collins of "Living With Food Allergies and Celiac Disease" will help us learn how to stretch a grocery budget to go a long, long way...especially those who have someone on a special diet!

It seems everywhere you turn today, someone is on some type of diet.  Whether it be due to food allergies, health reasons, or weight loss.  For whatever reason the diet exists, it doesn't come without a price tag.  You would think that if a company left out gluten, dairy, egg, corn, nuts (especially), sugar, or any other ingredient, that the price of the product would be less.  But it's quite the opposite.  These 'specialty' foods have a high price tag.
Individuals can spend in excess of $600.00 a month on specialty foods (for a family of four), and literally put someone in the hole just to eat!  I find that absolutely absurd, and I for one, had to find someway to eat allergy/gluten free less expensively.

Shopping can be challenging, but here are a few helpful ideas to keep it simple:

1.  First, know what you can eat on your particular diet.  The informational links page on our site has several web sites that will help.  Other information is available on the Internet, as well as diet sheets of allowed food provided by your doctor's office and/or nutritionist.  Check Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble Book Store for books available on your diet needs.

2.  Develop a menu.  Start small at first, maybe a week or two, gradually building up to a month.  Putting it on paper allows you to see what left-over food items can be used in two different meals ie., left-over baked potatoes can be used for fried potatoes at breakfast; left-over chicken breast can be used for tomorrow's chicken salad for lunch.  Also, cooking a little extra can mean a meal or two to put in the freezer for another day when you may not have the time to cook.  Try to incorporate as many naturally allergy/gluten free foods in your menu.
coupon images

3.  Next, search for coupons.  Allergy and gluten free foods don't always have coupons available, and sometimes you will find them but they will only be available for on-line purchases (see section on buying in bulk).  Be sure to search the name brand web sites of the foods you can eat.
4.  Buy in bulk, if possible.  Find a friend, relative, or even a neighbor that has special diet needs similar to you.  There are so many on-line stores available (Amazon,, and to name just a few.  There are some on-line stores that offer allergy/free coupons for their stores, although I haven't shopped there yet.  Even some of your local Walmart, Sams, Cosco, and Health Food stores offer bulk purchases if you speak to them directly.  If you have access to an Asian store in your area, you will find gluten free rice flours and products at a greatly reduced price.  Be sure to tell them it needs to be gluten free.  Don't assume that it will be.
5.  Buying bread on a gluten free diet can be very expensive.  If you find a brand that you like, it is cost  effective to buy in bulk and freeze.  I have found the Tapioca Light by Ener-G foods and Udi's gluten free bread to be the best for our family.  Another great idea is to substitute corn or rice tortillas or lettuce as a wrap in place of bread.  Tortillas can be frozen and taken out as needed.  Leaf lettuce can be grown in a planter just about all year long depending where you live.

This is Part 1 of a great three-part post by Mary Hudak-Collins.  Please be sure to check back for Friday's post (part 2) which will cover growing foods, buying meats, and storing your own foods. 

See you back here at Ducks 'n a Row for Wonderful Wednesday!
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