Gluten-Free on a Budget

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I’m excited to share this guest post from Elise at Frugal Farm Wife.

Going gluten-free isn’t always easy on the wallet – and Elise is here to bring us some easy-to-implement ideas on how to save money and still eat the way we need to. Make sure to stop by her blog where she chats about farm life, homemaking, and thriftiness.

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When I married Gabriel, I married into the world of gluten-free. We also decided right from the start to live as frugally as possible in order to eventually attain the lifestyle we desired.

This meant finding extreme ways make a typically expensive diet fit our budget.

It’s been a journey – and it’s certainly an ongoing one – but here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Buy in bulk. Hard as it may be to dish out a large chunk of money up front, Ive found that it leads to huge savings in the long run and the security of knowing that you have what you need for a while is worthwhile.  You can try looking for a food co-op or bulk foods store in your area, or if you live in a farming area, look for grain mills. One year when we were visiting friends in the Missouri farmland, we stopped by a rice mill and picked up rice for fifteen cent a pound!
  • Make your own flour mix. Don’t be intimidated by the apparent complexity of gluten-free flours. You really only need a few things for a great all-purpose mix. Brown rice, white rice, and cornstarch are the gluten-free bakers best friends. It may be nice to have a few other grains for variety, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
  • Switch to guar gum. I’ve read the articles on which gum to use when, but honestly, I’ve tried both xanthan and guar gums in the same recipes and the results have been consistently the same. Guar gum at whole foods typically runs about 1/4 the price of xanthan gum. In bulk from Ameriherb, they’re both significantly cheaper as well.
  • Leave the gum out of your flour mix. This is huge. Gum is the most expensive ingredient in my flour mix, so leaving it out, and then only adding it to recipes that really need it, such as sandwich bread, saves a lot of money. Pancakes, waffles, and a lot of quick breads, etc. don’t need it as long as there are eggs in the recipe.
  • Invest in a grinder.  Even at grocery store prices, I’ve found that buying the whole grains and grinding them myself costs about one fifth of buying gluten-free flours or flour mixes.  I grind about five pounds of flour per week, which means it would take about eighteen weeks for my grain mill to pay for itself. That’s not bad! I would caution anybody with food allergies about buying a used grinder. With some grinders, it’s impossible to clean all the gluten residue out sufficiently.
  • Cook from scratch. This is a biggie. Convenience foods are expensive even without dietary restrictions. Not to mention, homemade is so much more healthy.
  • Make your own “convenience food”. Set aside some time now and then to make your own mixes (i.e. pancake, biscuit, etc.) or to put a few entrees in the freezer for busy days so you won’t be tempted to use expensive pre-packaged food or eat out.

Above all, Don’t stress! Grinding grain, making your own flour mix, and cooking gluten-free in general, while not quite the same as cooking with wheat, is also not rocket science, and the savings are well worth while!

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Bio: Hi, I’m Elise! Christian, wife to Gabriel, mother to Garrett, sometimes cake decorator, and fanatical frugalista. I share gluten-free recipes and our journey of living frugally on an ecologically regenerative farm at frugalfarmwife.com


Shared With: Healthy Home Economist, Time-Warp WifeFar Above Rubies, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Frugally Sustainable, The King’s Court IV, The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Day2Day Joys, Raising Homemakers, The Greenbacks Gal, Our Simple Country Life, GNOWFGLINS, The Nourishing Gourmet, Christian Creative Mama, Comfy in the Kitchen, Jill’s Home Remedies,

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Paula
I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 17 years, mother of five, reluctant cook, full-time teacher, chocolate-snatcher, and children's author. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher'. I don't have initials after my name, a degree in anything but motherhood, or a framed certificate on my wall. What I do have is a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it. Oh, and I also might mention homesteading, homeschooling, fitness, herbs, faith, and anything else I'm thinking about. . . like wow, I need to refill my tea. . .
Paula
Paula
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Comments

  1. Hi, I’ve had a problem with grains now for over a year and have done a lot of research to search for “safe” grains. I found Dr. Peter Osborne an expert on Glutenology on youtube where he gives a lot of seminars on grains. He states all glutens have subrfracture protiens that are actually the cause of peoples protien intolerance with grains. They’re prolamines and these prolamines are in all grains. So it’s not just the gliadin in wheat that can cause entercolitis or inflamed colon it’s all grains including rice or corn maize. Many people just have a more acute reaction to wheat but the other grains keep everything inflamed just at a lower intensity. It took me years before I became so sick I needed to be hospitalized but it was present the whole time I just didn’t really understand the symptoms and thought that it was normal for me. Hope this helps some if mild reactions and syptoms are persistent. Also the lectins in grains are very damaging and are linked to autoimmune diseases which interestingly take years before people know they have them. So long term they’re all bad. He also states the packaging on grain products that state “Gluten Free” are incorrect, pretty much like things that say “natural” doesn’t mean anything. Wheat has like 69% gluten protien and corn is 55%. I was shocked and saddened. I miss my bruschetta and bread.

  2. Great post, Elise! I second the recommendation about grinding your own. It’s definitely cheaper than buying the flours.

  3. How do you go about getting grains from mills? I live in Missouri.

    Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday, hope to see you there Wednesday.

    • Try googleing MO rice mills. Then basically you have to call around (to the ones who don’t have websites) to find one that will sell relatively small quantities to an individual.
      We got ours from Martin Rice Company (http://martinrice.com/). We simply called ahead to make sure they would have what we wanted on hand since we were picking up a large quantity in 50lb. bags for ourselves and several friends.

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