Managing a gluten free diet on a budget

Blue pot pig money box

Updated 19th February 2021

There is no doubt about it, many dedicated gluten free products cost more than their ‘gluten filled’ equivalents. However, if you have coeliac disease, despite any additional expense, your gluten free diet must be maintained at all times to keep you on the right track, and this can be a financial struggle when you have a limited budget available to spend on food.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to save money when following a gluten free diet. Here’s a few suggestions from me…

Gluten free food Prescription allowance (UK)

Having the support of an allowance of basic gluten free foods on prescription really helped me manage the additional cost of gluten free food over the years. And I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that still allows 8 units of gluten free bread or gluten free flour mix each month (the equivalent of 4 x 500g packs of gluten free mix or 8 packs of 400g gluten free bread or rolls) should I need it.

Dependant on where you live (and if you pay for prescriptions), you can either pay for a single prescription. Or should you have multiple items prescribed you can invest in a prepayment prescription certificate . Which once purchased, will cover the cost of all your prescriptions for the allocated period. I have done this in the past and it definitely saved me some money.

Unfortunately, I know, not all CCG’s in England follow the NHS England guidelines regarding gluten free prescribing. I’m really sorry if you are in an area that has been affected with restrictions. Natter to your GP if you are struggling with your diet because of this. As It’s SO important that anybody living with coeliac disease is able to successfully manage their gluten free diet.

Scotland, Wales and NI continue to offer the previous National guideline of gluten free foods on prescription.

I chatted to many people about getting products on prescription whilst working at Juvela gluten free foods. So if you are unsure about any part of the process, please do drop me an email and I will do my very best to help.

Juvela gluten free bread

Food shopping

If you have been following a gluten free diet for a while, I’m sure you will have realised that you don’t JUST have to shop in the free from aisle. As there are ‘trillions’ of naturally gluten free products dotted all over the place in supermarkets. And most of them will be a lot cheaper than specialist gluten free foods. Of course you still have to double check the ingredients and ensure there are no ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings etc. But, the extra time it takes to check whether something is suitable is worth it. You can also refer to Coeliac UK’s up to date food and drink directory or use their app.

Thanks to the luxury of having a little more time, I’ve been able to go into various stores to try to get the best deals. I hold my hands up, I’m a huge Waitrose and Sainsbury’s fan and have regularly shopped in their stores in the past. And whilst I still pop in for the odd thing, I tend to do my main weekly shop now at Aldi. I also visit stores like Home Bargain for my regular brand products and toiletries and do pop into Asda quite often too.

I find that you can budget well by doing an online shop too. As you get to see a running total. And a lot of companies offer free delivery. So that’s a fuel cost saving as well.

But I think, once you have worked out which shops close to you offer the best deals. The overall way of saving is to make a list of just what you REALLY need and not budge from it. Which is what I plan to do. And to also incorporate my friend’s daughter Jasmine’s idea. Which is to write down all she plans to cook for the week and then she simply adds the ingredients needed onto her shopping list. Because for sure, If you have that ‘crucial meal’ plan in place, it does stop those last-minute evening impulse buys. When you just can’t think what to cook, pop into the supermarket and end up spending about £25!!!

fruit and vegetables

Batch bake/cook

Just as I was about to write this bit I thought about my mum. As when we were younger, she would always have a set baking day. It was Tuesday. And she would spend at least the morning making home-made biscuits and cakes to replenish our larder. Our tea was cooked in the slow cooker, I would say, at least twice a week. And when she used the oven, she would make use of every single bit of space in there. Filling it with a casserole, roast potatoes, even cooking the carrots in there, rather than boiling them on the top – NOT recommended, they go a very odd colour! All of this was done to save money on the fuel bill. And although I do think about bulking up when I make things like chilli and casseroles and making more than I need, so it can then be packed up and frozen for another time, I don’t always utilise my oven as well as I could. I must get better at doing this. The only thing to mention here, is if you do decide to make use of every bit of your oven space, and cook and bake things on different shelves, watch out that there is no left-over gluten containing food stuck on shelves that may fall onto your gf food. I try to cook everything uncovered on the top shelf to be safe.

Batch baking is great thing to do. Especially when it’s a little cold and grey outside. Also the kitchen gets messy in one go, when you do a mammoth  bake rather than forever having to clean down from little baking sessions here and there. And the reward for all your hard work is wonderful homemade cake which will always taste much better than pre-packed shop cake and would probably cost less too! Many homemade cakes will freeze really well. So no pressure to polish the lot off in one go!

Gluten free ginger sponge

Work lunches

Something we all know, but may not always put in to practice. Is to take our lunch from home to work rather than going out and buying one every day – I say every day, as we all need a little treat and break from the norm every now and then! It gives you something to look forward to.

When I worked at Juvela, I always liked to have a stash of Heinz baked beans, Baxter soups – suitable ones say gluten free on the tin – sardines, and lots of snacks in my desk drawer. This was such a great back up plan, for the times I either forgot or didn’t get chance to rustle something up at home to take in with me.

Again, me fretting: but don’t forget, if you are using a shared microwave at work to cover your food to prevent cross contamination.

Use up your lovely leftovers 

I was brought up to use leftovers and still try my very best to use every single last scrap of food. So, even If it’s just a tiny bit of curry that doesn’t look much. Teaming it together with a jacket potato, means you have lunch sorted. And that little piece of left-over omelette that you could quite easily chuck in the bin. Can instead be popped in the fridge, and enjoyed with a tasty vibrant fresh salad the very next day.

There are endless ways of how you can make the most of all those leftover bits and bobs. So, whatever you have that is safe to use up at a later date, you enjoy it. It sometimes tastes even better the second time around. And just think of all the money you will save too!

The great outdoors is free

We have so many green open places near us that are free to visit. And I love them! If you have similar facilities and have little ones do a ‘fridge clear out’ to pack up a gluten free picnic (weather permitting) and head off with a football and maybe a badminton set and enjoy a day outside. Taking all the gf snacks you need, will not only save your pennies, but will ensure everyone who needs to, can tuck into safe treats that may not be available when you are out and about.

Flowers picture from pixel

Supper with friends at home

I really love to cook and equally love having family and friends over to sit around our table with us and tuck into something I have prepared. And, for me this is a two-way thing. Firstly, I know that all I have prepared will be safe and secondly, it’s more cost effective to make something myself, rather than eat out. When I do plan to eat out with friends, we try to eat at a place that may have an offer on. For example, we book into Egos in Stockton Heath, Warrington  when it’s their half price steak night!

I was really keen to get this piece on, with the hope it may help a little on the purse strings. As with all my blogs I will probably head back over here from time to time to update the post.

Would love  to hear your budget and money saving ideas. Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments bit below.

For now
Liz x

4 thoughts on “Managing a gluten free diet on a budget

  1. Liz Hylton says:

    Great post, I really enjoyed this even though I’m not a coeliac! I’d reinforce Liz’s tip about having a meal plan though. Since I became a part time worker 10 years ago, I started planning our weekly dinners and have continued this since we retired nearly six years ago. I’ve recently started planning in lunches and breakfasts in the hopes of losing some weight! But the main benefits are money saved and little or no food waste. You can be flexible in the plan and swap days around and still not waste anything. Thanks, Liz, your blog is helpful to everyone!

    • Elizabeth Rimmer says:

      Thank you so much Lizzi so glad you enjoyed checking the blog out and found it helpful – that makes me happy! I do remember chatting to you a while ago about you doing a meal planner too and finally I have put one into place. It’s actually making me think more about what we eat, and with all your fabulous recipe tip off’s, a lot of which can be done really cheaply, hopefully I will save a few pennies and can then pass on the recipes too. xx

  2. Carol Carpenter says:

    Great blog liz. Lots of good ideas and useful tips. I’m trying to cut down my spending and make and freeze more, it’s so satisfying isn’t it, and good for so many reasons, cutting down on waste, packaging, travelling and especially good for the purse 👍😍. Xxx

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