5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Shopping Gluten-Free
Published April, 2021
Switching to a gluten-free diet comes with its share of challenges. From changing your eating habits to adjusting to the tastes and textures of new foods without gluten, it can be a difficult adjustment at times.
One common stressor at any stage of living gluten-free is the sticker shock of seeing the prices on gluten-free alternatives when shopping for gluten-free food. The price of a loaf of bread may be seven dollars or more, instead of one or two dollars. A box of pasta can go from under a dollar to two, three, five, and sometimes ten dollars.
While these prices are high, here are five things you can do to reduce the stress of higher priced gluten-free foods without compromising on taste, convenience, or your health.
Tip 1: Plan Your Meals
If you shop based on a week’s worth of meal plans, you can find ways to use some of the same ingredients over several days to avoid wasting food.
For example, you could make roast chicken for dinner, slice some of the leftovers for sandwiches with gluten-free bread or a salad, and shred some for a meal of chicken tacos or served with beans, rice, and salsa for a Mexican bowl. That’s not all! Toss the leftover chicken bones and meat scraps into a pot and make chicken soup. Voila! One chicken could be used to make at least five to six separate meals. Here are some of our popular meal plans for some inspiration.
Tip 2: Be Coupon Competent
Samantha Telle, RD, CDN is the GIG of Staten Island support group leader in New York, as well as the Lead Retail Dietitian at the local ShopRite supermarket on Staten Island. She says, “Gluten-free products cost more, so use resources to get the price down. ShopRite, like many stores, offers a weekly circular with sales and coupons. Check for coupons for the products you love, including digital coupons. Use a store app for more savings options or check the manufacturer’s website. Some provide special offers if you join their email list.”
Tip 3: Add Some Beans – and Longer Lasting Produce
Spoiled foods are an all-too common occurrence. Food waste can really put a dent in your wallet. Look for foods that last longer, like canned beans or bags of dried beans. For fresh produce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions can last longer when stored properly in a cool, not cold, location with good air flow. Keep onions away from potatoes because they give off moisture and can speed up spoilage.
Cabbage, carrots, and celery, kept in the crisper drawer of your fridge, can last quite a bit longer than other vegetables and add color and texture to any dish. Unopened frozen vegetables can keep in the freezer for up to a year and are easy to add to soup, stews, or steam or sauté as a side dish.
Include beans and/or lentils in your weekly meal plans. Beans are one of the most budget-friendly, and nutritious, additions to any meal – or they can be the main dish. Cook a large batch of beans, then use them in different ways throughout the week: in chili, in soup, with rice and salsa, even added cold to a salad at lunch. Cooked beans freeze well, too. Check out Gluten-Free Cooking: Beans 10 Ways.
Tip 4: Get Creative with Gluten-Free Substitutes
Going straight for the gluten-free packaged products is convenient, but you pay the price. To cut corners creatively, try a few healthy alternatives such as:
- using sliced cucumbers in place of crackers with cheese.
- trying spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini with your favorite pasta sauce.
- using polenta in place of lasagna noodles or pizza crust.
- wrapping romaine lettuce leaves around your favorite sandwich fillings.
Don’t completely avoid replacing your favorite foods with gluten-free alternatives. Try some of the alternatives for the foods you love to eat. Find the brands with products you enjoy, and work them into your budget. Even if you buy them only on occasion or when you have coupons, your taste buds will thank you.
Tip 5: Make Big Batches and Freeze for Later.
If you have the freezer space, plan a meal or two each week that freezes well. Make a double batch, and freeze one or two meal-sized containers for future use. When you don’t feel like cooking and are tempted to order in, turn instead to your own freezer supply. Freezing pre-cooked meals saves both money and energy. Get some food freezing tips from Freeze Your Food! Plus other Tips & Tricks to Make Your Food Last.
Pro Tip: Don’t Shop Hungry.
Avoid shopping on an empty stomach. When your stomach is growling, you’re more likely to end up making impulse buys and adding things to your cart that are off your meal plan and budget.
Shopping gluten-free can be less stressful if you follow a few tried-and-true tips. Making some changes to how you shop and cook can help cut down on cost and reduce some stress. Here’s to a happier shopping experience!
Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare team when considering this information.
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