Managing a Limited Grocery Budget & Food Allergies

People regularly ask me how I feed our family affordably, while still accommodating food allergies. We’ve had various seasons of health where individuals have needed to avoid dairy, eggs, or nuts, in addition to gluten. We also have one individual that has been very sensitive to sweeteners. Right now, most of our family is gluten-free.

For our family of five, our grocery budget usually averages $350-$450 per month. Some people may find that high, while others may find it too low. A lot of it depends on your location, and what is available in your town. Our options are pretty limited in our current location.

I do have the option to shop in bulk through Azure Standard. They deliver in many areas around the nation.  Other people have more farms, bulk stores, etc. available instead. I live about 2 hours away from larger stores such as Costco or Wal-Mart.

So, my options for frugal shopping are pretty much limited to once-a-month purchases. I keep track of what we typically need for a month, and then adjust my list accordingly. I try to make sure I stock up on seasonal items when possible.

Here are a few of my basic survival tips for frugal allergen-free eating:

    Buy in Bulk

I usually purchase 25 lb bags of Teff Flour, Brown Rice Flour, and Brown Rice, for example.  5-10 lb bags of beans, a case of tapioca flour, 5 lbs of shredded coconut, bulk seeds/nuts, cases of eggs (if using), and large blocks of cheese (if using) are all ways I cut costs while stocking up.

    Skip the Mixes

A box of gluten-free baking mix may be convenient, but the cost adds up quickly. Find a good flour combination that you enjoy for most of your baking, and use that mixture for all your recipes. Just keep it simple.

    Find Lower-Cost Substitutes

Some grocery stores sell xanthan gum affordably in bulk now, or you can use bulk flax meal or chia seeds as a binder for gluten-free baking. There are many options for substituting for eggs, such as bananas or flax. Instead of dairy, make your own coconut milk to bake with (or use in pancakes), and replace butter with bulk coconut oil.

    Use Whole Grains

Gluten-free pastas, packaged loaves of bread, and snack items are all expensive per ounce. Fill your cart with bulk bags of inexpensive whole grains, such as brown rice and millet. Bulk popcorn makes a fun snack, if you can have corn; otherwise, “toast” up some bulk coconut flakes (not shredded) in a skillet with a bit of coconut oil and sprinkle on sea salt. Use these in place of pasta under sauces or in soups for supper, heated up warm with cinnamon for breakfast, and in a salad for lunch. (You can also skip the grains for breakfast, and use yams or potatoes, for example.)

    Use Moderation

Americans often tend to serve larger portion sizes than in other global cultures.  If you are stocking your pantry/fridge for an entire month, you will need to “ration” out your usage to make sure you have enough for the whole month.  If you are preparing a large batch of dinner hoping for leftovers, you may need to stash the leftovers in the freezer before serving the meal, to ensure there are leftovers!

Check portion sizes when packing lunches, too. Try sending a lunch box with an assortment of small portions with a variety, rounding out the meal with inexpensive carrot sticks, bananas, bulk sunflower seeds, etc. instead of a large snack/side dish.

Sugar is also very prevalent in a standard American diet, with sweet breakfasts of desserts often expected. Other than a weekly batch of pancakes or whole grain muffins, and a gluten-free bread, our family now usually keeps baking limited to birthdays or special guests (such as cake or cookies). This has allowed us to limit our expenses on baking items, such as flour, non-hydrogenated shortening/oil/butter, vanilla, chocolate, and sugar. For a simple dessert, try baked apples, berry compote, or poached pears, for example.

    Follow the Dirty Dozen

I know I could not afford to purchase everything organic, so I try to just limit my purchases of organics to items on the Dirty Dozen list. If I buy peanut butter, I also purchase it as organic. For the other items, if the organic version is cost-prohibitive, I just do what I can and figure that feeding my family with some non-organic produce is better than not feeding them at all, right?

We also grow as much as we can in our garden to help stretch the budget. I put extras of seasonal items (such as berries) in the freezer to see us through the winter, if possible.

Are you looking for more ways to stretch the budget? I am excited to introduce a project that has been months-in-the-making!

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I’ve found in years past that I have really made use of the targeted information in many of the ebooks, such as for allergy-free recipes, natural cleaning, homemade remedies, meal-planning resources and more to really stretch my budget.

The ones I don’t use or have duplicates of have been great gifts for family/friends with a Kindle (I just email it to their kindle email address). I’m especially excited for all the helpful information available in the mentoring Coffee Table Conversations to continue helping you out throughout the year. Plus, there are some incredible bonuses of products you may be interested in sampling for free (or only for the shipping cost).

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How Much Does the Bundle Cost?

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What’s Included in the eBook Library? ($800+ value)

Real Food Cookbooks

Allergy-Friendly/Special Diets

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Special Health Concerns

Healthy Kids & Babies

Learning About Real/Whole Foods

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For 12 weeks starting in January 2014, we’ll offer a series of weekly one-hour live conference calls, where you can join in and ask your questions on relevant and timely healthy living topics to a panel of eBook authors. We’ll look at issues like allergy-friendly cooking, fighting fatigue (and finding energy!), eating well on a tight budget, an introduction to alternative health and herbal remedies, and tips and tricks for making real food in less time. You’ll be able to listen to authors converse with each other on any (or all) of the 12 calls that you choose to take part in, and get answers to your questions in real time!

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Important stuff you might want to know

  • Read the fine print. The details matter!
  • Check out our Frequently Asked Question page, particularly to learn about file types, how downloading works, transferring to eReader devices, redeeming bonus offers, and all that good stuff.
  • Remember, this bundle is available for only 6 days, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Monday, November 4th to 11:59pm (EST) on Saturday, November 9th.
  • Affiliate disclaimer: I am an affiliate of this sale. If you choose to make a purchase through my links, I may earn a small commission that helps our own family’s grocery budget. Thank you so much for your support!  The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Please seek the advice of your trusted healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health.
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