If you are like me, then you may look for new ways to save money on your 'gluten-free' grocery bill. I know my food budget went crazy when I first started eating gluten-free 5 years ago. And over the last 5 years I have found new ways to make it manageable, predictable and yes pretty 'normal'. Even this past month my husband and I sat down to talk again about how much money we spend on food on a monthly basis and how we could do better. We want to be good stewards of what we have been given and not allow our 'gluten-free-needs' to fuel over-spending at the grocery store. And most importantly weighing in on how we strive to eat the best, real food with a meager income and in a sustainable way.
I am a penny-pincher. I use coupons when I can and always try to find the greatest deal. I sometimes even drive too far to save a few bucks, which usually probably defeats the purpose with the cost of gas these days. But getting the deal gives me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Every dollar adds up and if you can save here and there you will be surprised how much you can save over time. Also, this means you have to make hard decisions on what foods are most cost effective and nourishing. So less packaged foods and more from-scratch meals. So it may seem like you are trading more money and convenience for less time, but it is mostly a shift in thinking and perspective.
Really though, I think we all could try to find new ways to make our gluten-free grocery shopping more efficient, time effective and cost worthy. It takes work. And I will be the first to say that grocery shopping has become more of a chore and stressor over the years. I sometimes come home from the store on my grocery-shopping day and just feel so discouraged. It's something about spending money and watching so much of the food budget disappear so quickly in one trip to the store. It can be disheartening. Especially when you are trying to make the best and healthy choices for you and your family. I know how this goes.
It is hard work, and we do make many sacrifices. We don't eat out very often and we eat very simple meals throughout the weeks, saving a special meal or 'feasting' meal for the weekends. I have picked up lots of tips and advice over the years and now I am going to share with you what I do and hope to share the love a little bit more. I feel like the more we learn how to eat real and nourishing foods within a budget, you will see more healing and change in the long run.
I will share where I buy my food and a general idea of my spending allowance. I hope that you will read, learn and share in the comments other tips or ideas to keep the conversation going.
I shop mostly at 3 stores locally and one store online. Here is a breakdown where I shop and what I buy.
Local Farmer's Market:
In the spring, summer and autumn I shop for most all of my produce at my local farmer's market. I like to buy the freshest veggies I can find (if they are not growing in my backyard), and also support my local farmers. And, the real plus is that the prices you cannot beat. Seriously, I walk away from the market with usually 2 full bags of produce for under 20 bucks.You can find almost all organic and fresh produce to be cheaper than it is in the regular stores and because it is also so fresh- you get more nutrients and vitamins for the money you spend. win win. But in the winter months, I eat produce I have either canned or froze and fill in the blanks with the fresh/organic frozen produce at usually Costco or my local health store grocer. Also- If I am going to buy meat of some kind, I will buy it from a local farmer at the market. I can buy beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, and pork all at the market that are humanely raised eating green pastures and considered either organic or natural. If and when I buy some meat I usually will find what I want here. And because we only eat meat a few times a month, it is not a huge spender in the overall budget.
I've been a member for almost 2 years and highly recommend it for bulk-organic items. I listed the prices for some of the bulk items to get an idea of price/amount.
Lundberg Organic Brown Rice (10lbs for $12.99)
Nature's First Organic Quinoa (4lbs for $9.49)
Nature's First Organic Chia Seeds (2lbs for $6.79)
Marantha Almond Butter (32 ounces for $5.79)
Dried Cranberries, Cherries and others
Dried Organic Figs
Organic Frozen Green Beans
Organic Frozen Broccoli
Frozen Berries, Blueberries
Organic Whole Chickens
Organic Corn Chips
Organic GF Seed Crackers (Mary's Gone Crackers)
local grocery store (Meijer):
I buy mostly items to fill in the blanks of what I can't buy at the Farmer's Market, Costco or online. So random things like canned organic tomatoes. My list to this all-purpose store is usually random and what I can find on special deals or with coupons like organic teas, organic juices, and sometimes organic produce. I know what the store has to offer so it is usually my last stop store to fill in the needs of what I need for a certain week of meals or last minute, easy pick-up items.
local health food grocery (Harvest Health):
Bulk raw seeds and nuts
Sami's Millet and Flax Bread
Organic Produce and from Local Farmer's: Kale, lettuce, bananas, ect.
Organic Local Meat
Organic vegan and dairy-free milks, cheezes, ect
Local Farm Fresh Organic Eggs
Local honey or maple syrup
Some dried fruits
Bulk gluten-free flours
Bulk sucanat, coconut sugar and sweeteners
Organic Coconut Oil
Other baking/cooking organic oils
Living Harvest Hemp Milk
Organic Hemp Seeds
Plant Protein Powders
Brown Rice Protein
Tinyada Brown Rice Pasta
Bob Red Mill's Gluten-Free Oats, flours and mixes
Cough/Cold Natural Remedies
Ok, so there are my lists. I am sure I will remember more items later and will add to it as I do. But here is a start.
We try and spend 'an average' of 100 dollars per week on groceries. We have a family of 3 and we try and eat as simply and creatively as possible. There is sometimes a special occasion or function that we have budgeted to spend a little bit extra... But the goal to strive for is 100 dollars per week.
I go to Costco usually twice a month (on pay day's) and buy what I need those weeks. I don't really buy a lot from Costco compared to the average member, but what I do buy is cost effective, has long shelf life, and are really great company/products. I love their quinoa, chia and rice. All great prices. Then I will usually make one more stop on my shopping day to either my local grocer or local health food store. Those stores help me fill in the blanks with items I cannot find on Vitacost or Costco. Plus those stores will help me buy the freshest essentials I buy every week (eggs, milk, bread).
I buy from Vitacost once a month and spend around 50 dollars so that I can get free shipping. I buy all of the items that I know I can get 2-3 dollars cheaper than at any local store. Like gluten-free pastas, flours, and seeds. I have found that Vitacost is selling the same brand items at other health stores just MUCH cheaper and if I spend the 50 dollars of my food budget there once a month I will save more money and time each month. I also like to have a little stock of items from Vitacost on my shelf in my basement pantry. It's nice to not have to worry about picking up gluten-free pasta last minute because I already have a nice stock-pile of them in the basement as a last minute dinner.
Some money saving tips:
During the week we eat very simply with lots of vegetarian, eggs, rice, beans, soups, stews and pasta dishes. Then on the weekends I will make once really nice meal with leftovers that usually consists of a local or organic meat plus a dessert treat of some sort. This allows us to eat meager meals during the busy weeks and then have time to have a feast and rest during the weekend. We could not afford to feast every night of the week, and so what is why we eat simply so that we can afford a nice meal and treat on the weekends.
We drink water and tea. No special beverages and coffee on a daily basis. This saves a bundle and allows us to have special beverages only for special occasions.
And, here is the good news for you...
I can refer as many people as I want to buy at Vitacost, which in turn will earn you a 10 dollar coupon for your first visit. That is 10 dollars of FREE groceries. So here is what you need to do to get the coupon:
Go to this link, and get your coupon instantly...
OR if you have issues,
Email me @
firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me your email address, and first and last name.
Then Vitacost will send you an email with the 10 dollar coupon and a link to their store. It is that simple.
You can browse Vitacost's store @ Vitacost.com. Then you can see what you already are buying that you can buy for much cheaper. So, seriously friends, click the above link and I will hook you up! Plus, if you spend 50 dollars (that you would normally spend at your local health store buying the same products for more) you can get free shipping so no extra cost to ship.
Well, I am sure I will think of something else to say later. But this post is a start. Here are some other favorite links about grocery shopping I have read and found helpful.
The Spunky Coconut Grocery Shopping Guide
The Nourishing Gourmet's Frugal Recipes and Feasting Ideas
Lots of Interesting and helpful advice to save money with real foods... 100days of RealFood
Hope you have a great week! And email me for the $10 coupon and leave comments to add to the conversation...I would love to hear from you!