Buying gluten free foods usually means that you are paying more per ounce than a similar gluten filled product. Whether the package is the same price and a smaller box, the same size and a higher price, or, my favorite, a smaller package and a higher price, the results are the same: eating gluten free is more expensive than if you were following a regular diet. As a celiac or gluten intolerant patient, this distinction is important because in order to remain healthy we have to stay gluten free and that has an impact on our monthly budget. There is no getting around the fact that we have to pay more, but there are ways to narrow that gap and make eating gluten free only a little less expensive.
Before I get started, I’d like to say that I’m not going to tell you to cook at home more and not use packaged or processed foods because not all people who eat gluten free can do that, and there is the issue that staples, like pasta, are 3-4 times as expensive as those made with wheat. There are also times when you get caught out and need to grab something to eat and don’t know what the choices are.
First, when you are in your regular grocery store check and see if there is a discount rack. Date coded products that expire soon, damaged packages, day old bread, items that aren’t selling, and post-holiday closeouts (think Easter or Halloween candy) wind up here. Discount racks are one of my best places to find large quantities of gluten free foods like pasta, soup, cereal, cookies, snacks, and cake mixes, often at 33-50% off. Stock changes often. If you find something you like go back and buy more A.S.A.P! I’ve bought something, tried it in the parking lot, and gone right back into the store to buy more. Don’t pass up a good deal if you can. Your bank account will thank you.
Next, if your grocery store has a separate gluten free section, browse the shelves whenever you go shopping. Before the last remnants of an item are moved to the discount rack, they are often marked down on the shelves first.
Buying in bulk is the other strategy for saving money when purchasing gluten free foods. I do this in two ways: through a local health food store and on-line.
The local health food store offers a discount of 15-25% when ordering full case lots of a product. Though the retail price in this store is a bit higher than my grocery store, for something that we use a lot like pasta, the savings are still significant overall. If you have any independent grocers in your area call them and ask if they will offer you a discount. You have nothing to lose and dollars to save.
Amazon and other on-line retailers offer a huge variety of gluten-free products at very competitive prices. With little more than a few mouse clicks you can shop, compare, and buy. With services like Amazon’s subscribe and save, you can save even more money on products you use regularly. If I can’t find it local, or need it often, the Internet is where I got for gluten free needs.
Buying gluten free foods will most likely always remain more expensive. Being a consumer in a niche market this is unlikely to change. I hope that these ideas help you save a little time while staying gluten free.