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If you or a member of your family has a food allergy or an intolerance, you will know how expensive it can be. Gluten free foods in particular are a horrendous price. So how can you cope with food allergies on a budget?
Free from comes at a price
Awareness of allergies and intolerances has finally hit the manufacturers’ commercial sensors. It is no longer difficult to find ‘free from’ products on the supermarket shelves. However, more availability doesn’t necessarily mean these items come cheap. How can you stick to your budget when you have to pay £4 for a loaf of gluten free bread, or £1.50 for some lactose free milk?
Fortunately, I don’t have any true allergies, but I am intolerant to most dairy and feel better on a lower gluten diet. If I eat toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch I bloat like I am 6 months pregnant and have other unpleasant symptoms that I won’t go into.
I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert, but I would like to share some tricks that I have found to help cope with food allergies on a budget so far.
Bake your own
I know! What a faff baking your own bread is. Or is it? I recently started baking my own spelt bread and, as I mentioned in this post, I accidentally discovered it was dead easy. The fact that bread makers exist made me assume it was all horribly complicated, but it isn’t, as I found when my bread maker died and I had to make it by hand.
I know spelt bread isn’t gluten free, however. The best book I have found for baking without gluten is Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap, by Nicole Hunn. It is American, but has loads of recipes for great looking bread and other baked goods. You can buy gluten free flour, rice flour, etc in the supermarkets reasonably cheaply now. If you make a batch of bread or rolls they will store nicely in the freezer and work out much better value than the ready made varieties.
Consider other carbs
You don’t have to eat bread for lunch every day. Quinoa, polenta or rice make nice salads and are all gluten free. How about a delicious thick soup with plenty of veg and potatoes? I have become much more adventurous with my packed lunches since I cut back on sandwiches. Rice cakes with humus is one of my favourite lunch combinations!
Focus on what you can eat
Similarly, rather than worrying about what you can’t eat, focus on the foods that don’t cause reactions. This might mean avoiding processed and convenience foods, but this doesn’t mean the food you eat needs to be complicated and fussy. An omelette (if you don’t have issues with eggs), a nice piece of meat or baked fish with vegetables, a filled jacket potato or a roasted tomato sauce on gluten free pasta are all quick and easy dinners.
Think about how many store cupboard basics are suitable for your allergy or intolerance and meal plan around those items. If you are organised generally you save money on your grocery shopping and even more so if you are catering for
To save yourself even more time, batch cook as much as you can and fill your freezer.
I am a fan of Approved Food as regular readers will be aware. However, did you know they often have speciality foods for those with allergies and intolerances? Stock moves quickly, but they currently have quinoa flour, rice flour, pretzels and even gluten free jammy dodgers at massively reduced prices.
Lidl and Aldi
Keep an eye on Lidl and Aldi for free from foods. At the moment Lidl has quite a few specials. I bought two packs of gluten free spaghetti and some ginger cookies yesterday. Aldi is always pretty good, with various non diary milks and their own, much cheaper version of Lactofree dairy milk – £1.15 a carton. They also sell lots of delicious gluten free cereal bars and snacks.
These discount supermarkets are both great for good quality, very dark and dairy free chocolate too.
Asda also now do lactose free milk at £1.20 a carton. They also sell delicious lactose free Greek yogurt in big pots, currently 2 for £2. Their own brand coconut milk is 97p. You can buy cheap soya milk and yogurt everywhere these days too.
I realise this post only scrapes the surface of the tricky subject of food allergies on a budget. I have found some interesting websites that are worth exploring too:
Free From Heaven features recipes to suit all kinds of dietary issues, as well as news about new products.
Gluten Free on a Shoestring is the blog to go with the book.
freefrom.com from the mum of a coeliac sufferer.
If you or a family member has a food intolerance or allergy, how do you manage? What are your tips to save money? Is it possible to deal with food allergies on a budget?