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How to Make a Gluten Free Meal Plan on a Budget

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Me journaling as a busy mom

You can quickly become overwhelmed when you are new to a gluten-free diet. Grocery shopping and meal planning are more complex, and your grocery bill feels like it doubles overnight; the good news is that eating gluten-free doesn’t need to wreak havoc on your grocery budget.

Here is a simple gluten-free meal plan on a budget that breaks down the basics of gluten-free meal planning and shows you how to stock your kitchen with budget-friendly, wholesome foods.

A woman scared to look at her grocery receipt after buying gluten free products for the first time

Meal planning will not only help you save money and waste less food, but it will also give you more free time! Yes, I said free time… to do whatever you want! You’ll spend so much less time grocery shopping and in the kitchen that you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin meal planning sooner.

busy mom navigating the grocery store

Why Meal Plan on a Budget?

Meal planning is an effective option for moms with busy schedules because it keeps you on track with your health and weight loss goals. If you have a busy schedule but plan your meals on Sunday night, you are likelier to stick with your plan even when your week goes off-kilter. 

a mom trying to find gluten free products at the local grocery store

Meal planning eliminates the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” Your entire family will benefit from meal planning because they’ll be eating delicious meals at home, and you’ll retain your sanity because you will always have a plan for dinner. 

gluten free chili, a great example, of a budget-friendly meal

Once you’ve done meal planning a few times, you will develop a process that will take little planning in the future.

Reasons for a Gluten-Free Diet

There are many reasons why people choose to eat a gluten-free diet. My son has a gluten intolerance, and since I refuse to be a cook-to-order chef, everyone eats the same thing for dinner. This means the whole family reaps the health benefits of a gluten-free diet.  

delicious gluten free meatballs served on mashed potatoes with gravy

So, whether you choose to eat gluten-free because it makes you feel great or you have a gluten intolerance, gluten-related disorder, or celiac disease, this gluten-free meal plan on a budget is for you!

Where to Buy Affordable Gluten-Free Items

When I first began shopping for gluten-free items, I experienced severe sticker shock. 

The look of sticker shock when you first buy gluten free items at the grocery store

How can everyday grocery items be more expensive because they exclude a single ingredient? I had to learn what grocery items to purchase that were manufactured gluten-free versus what things I could substitute that were naturally gluten-free.

Once I realized this, I was able to decrease my grocery bill. The trick to keeping my grocery budget in check was prioritizing naturally gluten-free items and buying fewer specialty gluten-free products.

Saving money on your grocery budget when you meal plan

Grocery retailers have done a great job growing their selection of gluten-free products. When I started this journey, I had to make multiple trips to several stores before finding everything I needed.

Now, grocery stores stock several gluten-free options, and I can find everything I need in one or two stores. I still prefer to shop at a few retailers to look for weekly deals and discounts. 

Local Retailers

If you are lucky enough to have an Aldi in your local area, you will find various gluten-free items from their brands, Live G-Free, Simply Nature, and Fit & Active.

They stock essential gluten-free products that are incredibly affordable, such as chips, crackers, noodles, bread, and tortillas. They also have baking mixes and sweet snacks. 

a picture of the local Aldi

I also have good luck at Kroger and Walmart. Local stores typically have a special section for gluten-free or allergy-friendly items. Often gluten-free items will be in the freezer section, so don’t be alarmed when you don’t see gluten-free bread in the standard bread aisle. 

a picture of the local grocery store

Online Retailers

I have had a great experience buying gluten-free grocery items on Amazon and Thrive Market. Both online retailers offer discounts and deals.

Thrive requires an annual membership but offers a significant discount on your first grocery purchase and continues offering savings and deals throughout the year.

Helpful Tips for a Gluten-Free Meal Plan on a Budget

These tips will help you find the most cost-effective way to manage a gluten-free diet on a budget. Whether it is finding gluten-free products at discounted prices, making your gluten-free products last longer, or the best options for substitutions, there are many tips to help you get the most out of your grocery budget every month.

Download Grocery Retailer Apps

download the grocery retailer app to get discounts on gluten free products

Once you know what stores have the best options for gluten-free grocery items, download their app. Check out the retailer’s sale ad, digital coupons, and exclusive app discounts. Many times retailers offer exclusive incentives to purchase directly from their app.

Find Naturally Gluten-Free Substitutes

corn tortillas are a great substitute for flour tortillas

Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as potato chips and corn tortillas. (Read the ingredient label on your favorite brand to be sure.)

We opt for corn tortillas instead of buying specialty gluten-free tortillas, which saves us a ton on our grocery bill. Another healthy option at a great price is using lettuce wraps instead of bread or flour tortillas.

Eat Whole Foods When Possible

fresh produce is a great option when shopping for gluten free grocery items

I quickly learned that fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and meat are naturally gluten-free. Prioritizing whole foods makes meal planning much more manageable.

Initially, we ate meals that focused solely on meat and vegetables. Once I got more comfortable with grocery shopping and recipes, I started adding variety and sampling different gluten-free products. You can never go wrong with prioritizing whole foods when gluten-free meal planning.

Read Ingredient Labels

food nutrition labels are important when you are working on a gluten free meal plan on a budget

I can’t tell you how many times I bought something, thinking it was gluten-free, only to find out once I got it home that it wasn’t gluten-free and we couldn’t eat it. Who would have thought some rice cakes have gluten in them?

Read ingredient labels every time! You’ll learn a ton about gluten and begin to understand what ingredients are in your favorite foods. This has made me more conscious of what brands I purchase and use in our house. 

Stock Up on Gluten-Free Staples

eggs are a great staple to keep on hand

If your family is like mine, there must be enough food to go around, enough for my husband, two teenage sons, and leftovers the next day.

I try to be strategic and add ingredients to my meals that are naturally gluten-free, budget-friendly, and what I consider kitchen staples. A few healthy staples I keep in abundance include eggs, black beans, potatoes, and peanut butter.

Freeze or Refrigerate Store-Bought Gluten-Free Items

store gluten free items in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness

To ensure gluten-free specialty items, such as bread or buns, stay fresh, always store them in the freezer or refrigerator.

Grocery Staples for Gluten-Free Meal Planning on a Budget

Here is the ultimate list of grocery staples for gluten-free meal planning. As I mentioned earlier, prioritizing whole foods will take a lot of guesswork and frustration from gluten-free meal planning on a budget.

whole foods are a great choice when mapping out your gluten free meal plan on a budget

Legumes – Such as Black Beans, Chickpeas, Pinto Beans, Green Beans

Corn Products – Popcorn, Corn Chips, Corn Tortillas, Corn Cereals (Corn Chex)

Nut and Seed Butters – Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Sun Butter

Fresh Vegetables – Such as Bell Peppers, Onions, Lettuce, and Carrots

Potatoes – Regular and Sweet Potatoes

Fresh Fruit – Such as Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Berries, and Pineapple

Healthy Fats and Oils –  Coconut, Avocado, Olive Oil


Dairy or Non-Dairy Substitutes– Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, and String Cheese

Pasta – Gluten-Free – Our family’s favorite is Jovial Gluten-Free Pasta.

Bread – Gluten-FreeKinnikinnick is our preferred brand for bread, buns, and pizza crust.

Flour – Gluten-Free – Some of our favorites include Krusteaz, Pamela’s, and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flours and Baking Mixes.

Steps to Meal Planning on a Budget

here is a picture of a mom working on a weekly version of a gluten free meal plan on a budget

Follow the steps below for the best way to create a gluten-free meal plan on a budget.

This meal planning process will help you save money, waste less food, and stay on track with your health goals. You will never have to think, ” What’s for dinner?” again.

  • Take a mental inventory of the foods you have in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer.
  • Make a note of any meats, main dishes, or staple grocery items in abundance
  • Start by writing down your family’s favorite recipes and meals using the list of foods from Step 3.
  • Continue adding favorite meals to your list, even if you don’t have the ingredients. For my family, our dinner list includes turkey burgers, white chicken chili, GF pasta, tacos, nachos, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, and chicken pot pie. You get the idea. 😉
  • Once you have your list of favorite meals from Steps 4 and 5, go to Pinterest and find 1-2 new recipes that you can add to your list.
  • Go back and put a checkmark next to the meals on your list that you have all ingredients for and will not require a trip to the grocery store.
  • Review the remaining meals on your list (not starred) and write your grocery shopping list for each meal.
  • Once you have your grocery items for each meal, you can consolidate them into a single, organized grocery list for your next shopping trip.
  • Now you have a list of several dinners and grocery items needed. You can begin filling out your meal planning template or calendar. Start with the recipes you marked and have the ingredients for at home.

Things to Consider

  • Note if you have plans scheduled throughout the week or a busy day on your calendar. Plan accordingly by choosing a slow cooker recipe or meals cooked in an instant pot.
  • Challenge yourself to start with 7-14 days of planned meals and gradually work your way up to planning a month’s worth of meals.
  • Don’t forget to incorporate leftovers into your meal plan. You do not have to cook every day of the week. Shoot for 3-4 days.
  • Do this same exercise for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Post your meal plan on the family calendar or kitchen command center so everyone knows what is on the menu.

Gluten-Free Meal and Snack Ideas

Here are some simple, gluten-free recipes and snack ideas to inspire your meal plan. These gluten-free recipes use only a handful of ingredients and are budget-friendly.

delicious healthy energy balls

The recipes are perfect for the whole family and can be modified for most dietary restrictions.

I also included some no-prep meal and snack ideas for those extra busy weeks. I’ve included all of my family’s favorites!


Gluten-Free Cookie Dough Overnight Oats by Nutrition in the Kitch

No Bake Granola Bars by Paleo Running Momma

Gluten-Free Cereals – Such as Honey Nut Cheerios or Rice Chex

Greek Yogurt and Vanilla Gluten-Free Granola from Mile High Mitts

Eggs and Avocado Slices

Gluten-Free Banana Bread by The Nomadic Fitzpatricks


Gluten-Free Chex Mix from What the Fork

Healthy Energy Balls

Hummus and Veggies

Homemade Popcorn

Homemade Trail Mix

String Cheese and a Handful of Nuts


Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps from Stylish Cravings

Black Bean Tacos from Cooking Classy

Deli Turkey on Gluten-Free Crackers

BBQ Chicken Power Bowl from The Pinning Mama

Loaded Sweet Potato from Celebrating Sweets

Gluten-Free Avocado Toast with Everything Bagel Seasoning


Gluten-Free Meatballs

Walking Tacos from Now Find Gluten Free

Chicken, Rice, and Veggies

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili from A Dash of Megnut

Gluten-Free Spaghetti – Use your favorite Marinara and Jovial Gluten-Free Spaghetti Noodles

Crockpot Creamy White Chicken Chili from Amanda Cooks & Styles

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