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Living Gluten Free on a Budget

If you are living life on a tight budget, being gluten free isn't easy especially if you like your cake and bread, but we have some tips on how to make gluten free a little cheaper.

Added 16th December 2017
Updated 10th November 2020

Living Gluten Free on a Budget
Living with Coeliac isn't the cheapest by any standards with the price of a simple loaf of bread often 3x the price of a regular loaf. When you are on a tight budget it can be even harder.

In all honesty, I personally have to live on a fairly tight budget but I have found ways around making things cheaper or at least reducing the cost down as much as I can, so I have some top tips for those who are on tight budgets or even if you just want to cut your shopping bill a bit. Some of these tips don't just apply to eating gluten free but just making your everyday fresh food stretch further too.

1. Reduced section at the supermarket
If you head to the supermarket during the day you'll more than likely be paying around £3 a loaf, however if you head there at the end of the day shortly before closing you will usually find a lot of bread and cakes on the reduced racks, quite often with substantial discounts because they can't sell anything past their sell by date. We've seen loafs, baps, cakes, biscuits all on the reduced rack for as little as 10p, even 5p on some occasions. You could use it on the same day, but if you have a freezer, just whack them all in there and they will easily keep for a few more months, just take them out as you need them!

2. Freezing what you can
Unless it has been frozen before there isn't all that much you can't freeze, blanch your vegetables coming up to the use by and freeze them, defrost as needed. Freeze bread and cakes and take them out as you want them. Buy fresh or all ready frozen meat and fish and freeze on day of purchase (just make sure any bought fresh is completely fresh and not prefrozen and defrosted, they usually say on them if they have been previously frozen).

3. Don't buy everything from the free from section
This might be obvious to some but you don't have to get everything from the free from section, you will often find some products are naturally gluten free anyway, ketchup, mayonnaise, pasta sauces, can all be bought from the normal aisles and for a fraction of the price. It is always worth checking normal products before heading to the free from aisle, you never know what is naturally gluten free. Products in the free from aisle are not always just gluten free, such as mayonnaise, which is usually egg free in the free from aisle but also labelled gluten free, if you don't need egg free mayonnaise you might as well buy Hellmans at half the price which is also gluten free.

4. Make it yourself, don't live off prepacked ready meals
Ready meals aren't cheap, finding gluten free ones is even more costly and stressful, looking for and finding a ready meal that's safe is a chore! You can make beautiful healthy (or full of fat if that's what you want!) meals yourself cheaper, if you don't have time to cook after work, you can batch cook many meals and freeze them and just defrost when you want them. Plus when you make it yourself you know exactly what is in it and there are no additives.

I am going to include an example on this one to prove my point. Tesco Free From Beef Lasagne is £2.50 for a 300g pack which serves one. To make it yourself with just a few ingredients you need Gluten Free Lasange Sheets, an onion, a carrot, 2 cloves of garlic, a pack of mince beef, lasagne sauce, cheese sauce and some cheese. When we put all these products together on Tesco it came to just over £7 and will easily serve 4-6 people, if you serve 4 you are looking at £2 a portion, 6 more like £1.50 a portion, and this is using ready made DOLMIO sauces, it would be even cheaper if you make the sauces yourself. It is cheaper and it is made with fresh ingredients.

5. Plan ahead
Plan your meals for the week, make a shopping list and see what you already have in the cupboards/fridge/freezer, if you know what you want you won't be wandering aimlessly around the supermarket and less likely to need to go again later in the week too. You know what you need for you meals and you won't be duplicating on things you already have in. Plan right and some weeks you won't have to buy much, work around what you have in, see what you have to use and make a meal from them, you might have to buy one or two ingredients but if you already have some of the stuff you are going to save yourself a bunch.

6. Use leftovers the next day for lunch
Made too much for tea? Don't dump if, keep it in a tupperware box and reheat it for lunch the next day. You can even deliberately make more for meals, I do this often so I have a warm hearty lunch the next day.

7. Learn to bake!
Even the worst baker can learn to make a basic cake, bread isn't so easy and takes some mastering but you can certainly save a few quid making a cake yourself, it doesn't have to be pretty, and a basic cake mix can be changed in so many ways to make it different, such as adding cocoa powder or fruit.

Lets look at the cost difference on this one too. A gluten free Victoria sponge cake in Tesco is £3 which apparently serves 6, though I do beg to differ on that one as it is a small cake, however at this stated amount it works out at 50p per slice. How about making it ourselves?

A basic large sponge cake based off our Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe is 3 large eggs, 250g gluten free self raising flour, 250g caster sugar, 250g margarine, 2tsp vanilla extract, jam and butter cream. Based off buying all the ingredients including a dozen eggs and 1kg of margarine, it costs just shy of £10 however there is enough ingredients there to make 4 cakes before running out of at least one ingredient. That works out at £2.50 a cake, however this cake will cut into 10 slices. Averaging 25p a slice. Half the price of the shop bought one. Again you can freeze the sponge too to use at a later date.

8. Shop around loads of places online
Don't always head to the supermarket, there are loads of places these days online to buy products, if you have the room, batch order from Wheat Free Bakery for bread, etc. No point buying just one loaf as when postage is taken into account it gets expensive but if you can buy a fair few at once it works out cheaper, plus the loaves are bigger and more like proper bread than most of the shop bought stuff. There are also loads of smaller bakeries and manufacturers online who sell all kinds of gluten free products, so shop around, don't rely on just the supermarkets.

9. Don't waste stale/out of date products
Just because the bread has gone stale or the fruit is almost mush doesn't mean you have to chuck it, stale bread makes great puddings such as chocolate orange bread and butter pudding or even homemade bread crumbs. Puree overripe fruit and veg to make purees, or even make simple fruit crumble puddings like apple and blackberry crumble!

10. Check out tried and tested recipes on blogs and websites
If you are not big on cooking, check out recipes online for things you can make with what you have. Making meals yourself can be so simple and cost effective it's worth nosing around. We have loads of recipes, most of which use simple every day ingredients and we have made the all ourselves multi times so know they work. Also bloggers such as Free From Fairy and Glutarama have loads of gluten free recipes, there are even blogs for simple cooking such as Easy Peasy Foodie, many of which if they aren't gluten free can easily be made gluten free. Also check out Nannie and Me are gluten free group on Facebook where this is an abundance of recipes and knowledge floating around.

11. Food Fairs
Ok, food fairs aren't on all the time but when they are, make the most of it. They do happen all over the country, check out local Coeliac UK groups who often have them, The Allergy and Free Show show happens in Liverpool, Glasgow and London, you also get other independent fairs happening too. They may only happen once locally but take advantage, you will usually get local manufacturers showcasing products as well as bigger manufacturers with offers on, usually selling items for one or two quid, or more often offers like 3 for £5. It's always worth looking at the fairs and picking up some bargains, we showcase out products at a lot of shows and are always impressed with local products we didn't even know existed.

We hope these tips help you cut the cost of your shopping and live a gluten free diet on a budget, if you have any other tips feel free to let us know!

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