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Products labelled ‘gluten-free’ were, on average, 242% more expensive than regular products in a study detailed in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gluten-free eating is now relevant to many American households, since many of us are looking for healthy, tasty ways to feed our families no matter our dietary requirements. When we have a houseful of hungry mouths to feed, it’s important that a gluten-free lifestyle is inexpensive and sustainable, but the many costly gluten-free products out there can make that goal seem daunting. Fortunately, there are many ways to stick to the family budget while enjoying a delicious and varied gluten-free menu.
You Can’t Go Wrong with Home-Cooking
The most reliable way to stick to a budget and ensure that your family is eating well is to cook from scratch. That doesn’t mean forgoing the comforting treats that your kids are craving – making a gluten-free pizza is much more fun than buying one anyway, and it’ll amount to a fraction of the cost. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking a gluten-free diet needs to involve products that are all labelled ‘gluten-free.’ This isn’t the case, and you can save a lot of money simply by knowing which ingredients you can use in your kitchen to make nutritious gluten-free food. Once you know which flours and grains are safe, you can follow pretty much any recipe, substituting gluten-containing ingredients as you go. None of your family’s favorite comfort foods are off limits: from macaroni and cheese to chocolate cake.
Stock the Pantry Full of Whole Foods
While most of us don’t have time to make our own pasta or bread every day, it is possible to avoid buying processed foods and stick to the family budget while ensuring a healthy, balanced diet for everyone. Dried grains and pulses like lentils, beans and rice can be bought in bulk and will last for months, so you can be prepared to cook a chili or delicious gluten-free risotto whenever you wish. If you enjoy a relaxed day in the kitchen, a rainy Sunday can be spent cooking stews and soups with fresh ingredients, which you can freeze and heat up when time is tight and you need a warm, comforting family meal quickly.
Gluten-free breads and cakes can be a big drain on a tight budget, and it’s often hard to find the ones that satisfy everyone’s palate. If you enjoy baking – and especially if you have a bread-maker – you can bake ahead and freeze portions of your family’s favorite cakes so you always have baked goodies on hand. Following a gluten-free recipe is one option, but if your family has recently made the switch, you might want to experiment with adapting old favorites. You’ll have to be careful with this though, because gluten is a key component in many traditional recipes, so you’ll have to make tweaks by using ingredients like sweet rice flour. With the increased popularity of gluten-free cooking, there is a wealth of resources online and plenty of places to find helpful baking tips. Whenever a food market becomes popularized, there are companies looking to capitalize on it. This can be bamboozling if you’re worried about sticking to a new lifestyle, but with a little extra thought and research, there’s no reason a gluten-free diet needs to break your budget or keep you away from the foods your family loves.
Guest Post: Alicia Newsome