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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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-Free – Kinnikinnick is our preferred brand for bread, buns, and pizza crust.
Steps to Meal Planning 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.
Things to Consider
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.
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
Hummus and Veggies
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
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