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Buy EVERYTHING From The Free From Aisle?

Do you buy everything from the free from aisle? Do you know you don't have too? Many of the items there are there because they are free from other items so you may find a lot of products in the regular aisles are already gluten free.

Added 15th April 2016
Updated 10th November 2020

Buy EVERYTHING From The Free From Aisle?
It's always been known that free from products are expensive, but are all of them necessary? Well the short answer is yes, when you walk down the free from aisle and see things you think are normally gluten free in their regular form, well you are probably right, they probably are. So many people forget that free from doesn't just mean "gluten free", it means "egg free", "dairy free", even "fat free" and "sugar free", I have seen other products put in the free from aisle just because it is free from something, and I've also seen products in the free from section that actually DO contain gluten, but are free from something else, the Free From section doesn't just contain products Gluten Free!.

Unfortunately though, many people walk down that aisle and see, say ketchup for example, see it says gluten free on the front and automatically assume that have to buy the free from version even though it either costs more than regular versions or is much higher in fat, sugar and/or salt. We advise you check everything, you never know what you can find that is gluten free when you assume it isn't. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was looking for soup, of course I headed straight for free from aisle when I needed some mushroom soup, but then I had a word with myself and told myself to go and check the regular stuff soups first, and there I found at least two brands that I could have, it was the same when I couldn't find chicken soup, most normal products did actually contain flour, but I did find one that I could have which wasn't in the free from section.

So do you need to buy it if it's labelled gluten free? Not always, stuff like bread and cakes we can't get away from, basically if it's usually processed with wheat then you have to buy special free from products, but for a lot of other regular everyday items, you don't actually need to pay over the odds or ingest more sugar than necessary!

We took a look at 5 different products available in the free from aisle and looked at their identical counterparts in the regular aisles that are also gluten free, just to see what the differences were, both in price and nutritionally.

Please don't forget there are other free from and regular options from other supermarkets and online which will also all vary, we just chose some at random and compared them!

First up we took a look at ketchup, this is something I forever wonder why it's in the free from aisle, apart from Mustard, the regular stuff is in most cases actually free from everything, so I don't get why people buy the free from version. Lets take a closer look.

ProductPriceCals per 100gSugar per 100gSalt per 100gFat per 100g
Tesco Free From Ketchup 460g£18017.11.40.3
Regular Tesco Ketchup 555g70p11018.11.30.4
Chippa Free From Ketchup 315g£1.509018.93.090.5
Regular Heinz Ketchup 342g£1.2610222.81.80.1

From this it's immediately obvious that Tesco regular ketchup is best value and of course it is gluten free. Chippa free from which is available is a few different supermarkets has almost 3 times the amount of salt as both regular and the other free from!

There are lots of pasta sauces available in supermarkets, but if you are dairy free too a lot of these aren't much use to you as they contain milk, however, if you are just gluten free make sure to take a look at the regular pasta sauces!

ProductPriceCals per 100gSugar per 100gSalt per 100gFat per 100g
Sacla Free From Bolognese Sauce 350g£2.00964.716
Regular Tomato and Chilli Dolmio Sauce 500g£1.553660.60.1
Tesco Free From Tomato and Chilli Sauce 340g£1.30607.40.52
Regular Tesco Tomato and Chilli Pasta Sauce 500g85p455.90.70.6

We think if you want the cheapest then get Tesco's regular pasta sauce. Top brand Dolmio is more expensive, but lower in fat and calories than all the others, Tesco's free from is nearly double the calories of Dolmio and 4 times higher in fat. Unless you really have no other choice we suggest you use Sacla Free From, we suggest you leave it on the shelf, at over two times the prices of top brand Dolmio (once you consider the difference in weight) and the dreadful difference in fat (we make it 60 times higher!) it's really not worth it.

Next up is Korma sauce, again, like pasta sauce, some regular products do contain milk, but if you are just gluten free you shouldn't have an issue. Pataks is even labelled gluten free and this is a leading brand down the regular aisles.

ProductPriceCals per 100gSugar per 100gSalt per 100gFat per 100g
Sainsburys Free From Korma Sauce 300g£1.501535.40.3512.2
Regular Sainsburys Korma Sauce 500g95p1234.10.529.2
Meridian Free From Korma Sauce 350g£1.871085.50.87.2
Pataks Korma Sauce 450g£1.701496.80.7211.5

If you are looking for the healthier option in this instance, Meridian free from is much more natural and has nearly half the amount of fat of the top brand, however, Pataks is only about 50p more expensive. If you're looking for the best value, Sainsburys regular korma sauce is a bargain at 95p for 500g when the free from varieties are well over £1 for much less product, Sainsburys regular is also not much higher nutritionally than Meridian so we are sure this is the option we would go for.

Salad cream is a popular choice in the free from aisle, but unless you are egg free you can hit the regular shelves!

ProductPriceCals per 100gSugar per 100gSalt per 100gFat per 100g
Tesco Free From Salad Cream 440g£1.0023213.41.117.2
Regular Tesco Value Salad Cream 540g60p1074.81.21.2
Asda Free From Salad Cream 295g£95p242131.419
Heinz Salad Cream 235g£1.19293171.723.6

We were astounded by this one, apart from Tesco Value, all the others are extremely high in sugar and fat, and regular Heinz is also highest in price, meaning you can actually get the free from version cheaper! However Tesco Value brings it all back down to earth again, being the cheapest of them all by a large margin and also 3 times lower in sugar and 2 times lower in fat than the lowest of the other three.

Finally we took a look at pesto, this popular condiment shouldn't require a free from alternative, however a lot do contain milk so their are free from versions available for dairy free people, but yet again many gluten free people buy it when they don't actually need to!

ProductPriceCals per 100gSugar per 100gSalt per 100gFat per 100g
Scala Free From Pesto 190g£2.504594.8345.5
Regular Sacla Pesto 190g£2.244533.53.344.6
Meridian Free From Pesto 170g£1.995100.70.451.6
Regular Morrisons Pesto 190g91p3760.71.2533.8

So as long as you are not dairy free we suggest you go with Morrisons own as it's lower in fat, sugar and calories and second lowest of these four in salt too, not to mention it is also at least half the price of all the others. If you are looking for low salt go with Meridian but otherwise it is high in everything else especially fat.

In summary, you don't always have to get a Free From product, in a lot of cases the regular products are fine for us (Unless you have any other allergies or intolerances), and in the majority of cases are actually far better for you, and far greater value for money, as with anything, its always best to shop about!

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