There is no doubt about it. Being gluten free, casein free is a whole new grocery store experience. Gone are the 10 cent packages of ramen noodles (not that they were ever a nutritionally sound choice anyway), say goodbye to el cheapo bologna, adios to 99 cent Wonder Bread. Hello $3.99 for spaghetti that never goes on sale, hmm, maybe to certified gf deli meat and are you NUTS!! to $7.00 bread. With pricing like that, it’s no wonder parents are scared off this particular intervention.
There are ways to make this lifestyle change less taxing to the family purse, though it does involve a lot more work on Mom and Dad’s part. It means whole foods, cooking from scratch, little to no reliance on packaged foods…truthfully, the exact same thing that any good “money coach” such as the wonderful Gail Vaz Oxlade would tell you. So, don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself…
Keeping to a tight budget means figuring out what is a “want” and what is a “need”. This IS different in every house. My children would tell you that a cookie in their lunch is a need. I would argue that point, but they still get a cookie most days. When we switched to “Enjoy Life” chocolate chips, I loved that they are mini, so I use 1/2 a much. (Good thing too because the bag costs more than double!)
Here are some of my best budget tips:
– Watch for sales on produce and never buy more than you will eat (or freeze). A great deal on mangoes isn’t so great if you throw some away. Buying in season fruit does make a difference but even I will sacrifice the budget elsewhere to buy Eric mandarin oranges as often as I see them. It’s what he likes best and they almost never go to waste. I do find vegetables to be much less expensive, by volume, than fruit. Of course they are more work, chopping, peeling and etc that it is easier (and sweeter) to reach for fruit!
– Carrots last a long time in the fridge so watch for sales. (Make muffins or cake if you have too much!)
– Old bananas taste best in banana bread and can be frozen, in the skins and peeled later if you are short on time. These are a great money saver for us. Why pay 80 cents a pound for good ones and let them go old at your house? (Usually they are 1/2 price or less!)
– Potatoes kept in the dark will keep for months – at this time of year, I can buy a 50 lb bag for $20.00 or less
– Less tender cuts of meat in the slow cooker taste just as good as expensive cuts in the slow cooker, so why not save a bit here?
– Watch for 2 for 1 deals if you shop at Superstore – I have scored soy yogurt, soy milk and almond milk on this method several times
– Know when your Bulk Barn or natural food store has a scoop and save sale. One store we like has a 20% off what you scoop the last Saturday of the month
– Buy your rice in bulk size – those giant bags do last a year (I keep mine in the freezer). The last one I bought was about $15 – or less than the cost of 3 small bags of Uncle Ben’s that last about two months.
– Buy plastic storage containers (reusable) that you can freeze individual portions in. Make a recipe, portion out for lunch, label and freeze. Instantly you have a GFCF microwave meal. I do this once a month and eat wonderful meals every day at work. This keeps you out of the grocery store or restaurant at lunch. This one tip has already saved me at least $20.00 this month.
– Remember that any food not in its “whole” state is processed and you are paying for that – think about stewed tomatoes, canned beans, soup, bouillion. Maybe you don’t want to do everything from scratch, but this is one small place to look for savings. You can buy a bag of white beans for about $2.00 – or buy (maybe) 2 cans. That bag of beans will make much more than the 2 cans.
– Stop throwing away food. When you do, try to estimate how much money you are putting in the trash can. (and I’m not talking about the food your kids don’t eat!) If you toss an apple past its prime, think about the cost- is it $1.00? How about the last lonely sausage or a 1/4 chicken breast? Take time to measure (or weigh) the food you threw out. Check at the store for prices if you aren’t sure. Would you throw away $10.00? Then why are you throwing out food?
I hope that is helpful. We have a “clean the fridge” day for supper regularly, just to stop throwing out food. I’m not perfect yet, I tossed out $5.00 (in lettuce and forgotten fruit) today. Sigh. That’s at least a package of Tinkyada pasta and a Lara Bar.