A frequent question I hear from parents is “How can I do a GFCF diet without breaking the bank?” The truth is that gluten-free casein-free alternatives do cost more, but there are ways to minimize the extra expense.
Are you the typical American consumer who spends more money on premade food (pre-packaged foods from the grocery store or ready-made meals from fast food or sit-down restaurants) than on meals made from scratch? An effective way to bring down your food budget is to swap out some of these premade foods for homemade meals. That may sound like a daunting task, especially if you don’t currently spend much time in the kitchen and you already feel maxed out on available time. But it is possible, it only requires setting aside some time upfront to create a meal planning roadmap.
FOLLOW THESE FOUR STEPS:
1. Write down what meals your child currently eats on a weekly basis.
2. Identify which of these meals will need GFCF alternatives.
3. Of those, identify which ones are easiest to switch from premade to homemade. Are there premade mixes that you can buy? Are there only a few ingredients required? Is it quick and simple to make?
4. Look for creative ways to swap in a lesser expensive product without sacrificing nutrition.
Here are a few examples. Let’s take a breakfast favorite: waffles.
If you currently buy frozen waffles, then switching to a GFCF frozen waffle is definitely going to give you sticker shock. Look at two brands – Eggo (non-GFCF) and Van’s (GFCF) – the GFCF alternative costs twice as much per serving. But, if you have a waffle maker, it’s actually pretty easy to make your own. Using Namaste Waffle & Pancake Mix brings the cost per serving down by half.
Now let’s take a lunch favorite: chicken tender strips.
Look at two brands of frozen tender strips – Perdue (non-GFCF) and Applegate (GFCF) – the GFCF alternative costs almost 2 ½ times more! That’s a really big difference. But, if you purchase fresh chicken strips at the store and then coat them with Namaste (GFCF) homestyle coating mix, your homemade version is actually less expensive than the premade non-GFCF product.
Now let’s take a dinner favorite: hamburgers.
We already know that making hamburgers at home is less expensive than getting them from a fast food or sit down restaurant. But this savings can easily be wiped out by the extra cost of a GFCF bun. Look at two brands of buns – Pepperidge (non-GFCF) and Udi’s (GFCF) – the GFCF alternative is 3 times the cost! That makes the price of meat look not so bad. One option is to make your own buns. Bella Gluten-Free Multigrain Sandwich Bread Mix makes a really tasty, healthy bun that brings down the cost by a third. But we can also get creative to save even more money. Another option is to substitute GFCF pasta in lieu of a bun. Instead, simply sprinkle hamburger meat over top a bowl of pasta and that brings down the cost by half.
Although there are extra costs involved in being on a GFCF diet, these costs can be minimized with some thoughtful pre-planning and creativity. As you make the dietary changes, your child’s health will improve and your efforts will be rewarded.