Have you recently learned that gluten is off the menu for you and you’re worried about your food budget sky-rocketing?
When you cook with plenty of fresh veggies, fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef, nuts, seeds, and fresh herbs and spices, eating gluten-free the economical way is easier than you think!
Start with simple fresh meals that you can make at home in minutes to take the “gluten-guesswork” and save cash in the process…
Salads are an easy way to eat healthier, maintain or lose weight, and use naturally gluten-free ingredients that taste great and won’t break the budget.
The cheapest and healthiest green to start with is kale (priced at around 99 cents to $2 per bunch). Simply wash your kale before you’re ready to eat, and remove the tough stems. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and add a teaspoon of olive oil.
To tenderize the leaves, squeeze them with you fingers while massaging in the oil. Add your favorite healthy g-free toppings — like unseasoned nuts, chia or flax seeds, chopped celery or chopped apples.
Next, drizzle on the dressing — but avoid dressings in the bottle and mix your own in minutes! Try simply delicious balsamic dressing by whisking 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste. Or try a peanut vinaigrette with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 teaspoons apple cider or rice wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and 1 tablespoon warm water.
Other economical greens for great g-free salads include romaine, green leaf and green leaf lettuces.
Chicken beef and vegetable broth can be a haven for gluten-containing ingredients like natural flavorings, yeast, starches and stabilizers — so making healthy g-free soups can be tricky if you’re not sure what’s in your favorite broth brand.
Start your soups off with chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Add in plenty of fresh veggies like cauliflower or broccoli florets, green beans or canned cooked beans (like black beans kidney beans, or chick peas). For a flavor punch, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, lemon or lime zest, or canned chipotle chili.
Bread can be a tough thing to let go of if you’re on a budget and have to go g-free — since many g-free breads are $2 to $3 more per package.
Gluten-free wraps are definitely a better bargain since they usually contain more wraps per pack and you’ll be getting less carbs in the process too.
Want to “skinny-fy” your sandwich and go g-free at the same time? Use collard or kale leaves to wrap your favorite sandwich fillings. You’ll cut hundreds of calories from your meals while simultaneously boosting nutrition. Like canned broths, condiments can be a hidden source of gluten. Always check the label, or stick with inexpensive condiments that are healthier and have a higher chance of being gluten-free — like mustard, jarred salsa, and pickle relish.
Inexpensive cuts of meat like chicken thighs, chicken breasts, beef stew meat, beef stir fry strips, and frozen shrimp are all naturally gluten-free as are ground meats like chicken, turkey, and beef. Cook and garnish with delicious toppings like chopped fresh herbs, lemon or lime, roasted garlic or caramelized onions.
Prep a moist meatloaf using 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 grated Parmesan, 1 egg and 1 cup chopped mushrooms and mix well. Transfer to a loaf pan and bake 45 minutes at 350F.
Get out your slow cooker for a g-free meal that you can prep in minutes — using jarred salsa, olives, tomato paste and fresh citrus along with the protein of your choice. If you’re craving grains, serve them with a side of naturally gluten-free brown rice, millet, or quinoa that you can flavor with extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and the fresh herb of your choice like fresh basil or chopped rosemary.
Want to experiment with g-free baking but don’t want to invest in pricey gluten-free flours that range in price from $6 to $9 per 1/2 pound bag?
Here are some that you can easily make on your own if you have a coffee grinder or a food processor…
Brown rice flour, already milled, can be economical but has a gritty texture and is best mixed with one of the flours below for better performance:
- Coconut Flour
Place shredded unsweetened coconut in a food processor and process until a fine flour forms. Use to thickening shakes, soups, and mix with oat flour 1 : 1 for muffin recipes.
- Oat Flour
Place oats in a coffee grinder and process until a fine flour forms. Use to bread chicken and mix with other flours for baking.
- Almond Flour
Place dry-roasted, unsalted almonds in a food processor and process until a fine meal forms. Use immediately or store in the freezer to prevent the almond flour from going rancid. Great for brownies, cakes, and muffins. Mix with a dryer, lower fat flour like oat or brown rice.