Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gluten Free Budget Meal Plan

Personally, my family does not follow a gluten free diet. However, I know many people that do. Rather than get into a disagreement about whether or not it's a good plan for a specific person to be on, since I'm not a doctor, I thought I would list a "budget" meal plan for gluten free, since it seems that most foods that claim to be gluten free are more expensive.

I will briefly say, that if a gluten-free diet is something that you're trying because of behavior issues with your children, or anything other than a diagnosed gluten allergy or sensitivity, that you may want to consider other options first, such as reduced screen time, fewer processed foods, and eliminating food dye. Gluten is in many very healthy foods, so please don't avoid gluten just because it worked for someone else.

As a basic run-down, gluten is a part of the grain and is especially found in wheat (including durum, spelt, farina, and farro), rye, and barley. So, the easiest answer is to avoid those grains. The more difficult answer, because many processed foods also contain traces of wheat or gluten, is that you should be avoiding those grains and making all your own food. The great news is that making your own food is generally cheaper.

Other than making your own foods rather than buying processed, what are some other easy and cheap gluten free options? Let's focus mainly on replacing those carbohydrates

Budget Gluten Free options:
  • Oats
  • Rice (make your own rice flour)
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat seeds (if you grow your own)
More expensive gluten-free options include:
  • Amaranth
  • Chia seed
  • Peanut flour
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
I know oats, rice, potatoes and corn don't sound very exciting, but in many regions of the world, this is their main form of grain or carbohydrate. So, the issue is not that you can't eat it as a main part of your diet, it's just that in America we've grown accustomed to so many processed foods. Try to replace one food at a time with something that is prepared at home, even if it's just a bowl of oatmeal instead of processed cereal. Your health and your wallet will thank you.

Bread is not "necessary". However, if you truly must have bread, you can definitely make your own. There are a ton of websites out there with recipes for various flour mixes to approximate an "all-purpose" flour. But again, my suggestion is to just avoid bread altogether and focus on easy to make bread alternatives such as cornbread (substitute rice flour for all-purpose) potatoes of every variety, oats, corn, and whatever other delicious fruits and vegetables you can eat.

My biggest budget saver for people is to avoid the most expensive three items on their grocery list. So, if you're not gluten-free, or already make all your own gluten-free products, then you need to look at your own budget to see what your biggest offenders are and work on reducing those costs. It's not about a bare-bones budget, just making wise choices with what we have been given.

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