Money-saving tips for gluten-free families

Anyone with celiac disease, a condition that prevents people from eating gluten – an ingredient found in wheat, barley and rye – knows that gluten-free products tend to cost more than non-gluten-free products. At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we care for many kids whose families need to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle for them – without breaking the bank. Here are some money-saving tips we share with families:

Remember, there are many regular foods that you CAN eat!
Not everything has to be the more expensive gluten-free specialty products. For example, in the regular cereal aisle, Rice Chex® now is a gluten-free product (check the labeling on the front of the box to be sure). Cornmeal, grits and Cream of Rice® are other gluten-free breakfast or snack options.

Comparison shop for both gluten and non-gluten food.
Look for generic brands in your grocery store and at discount stores. Generic brands generally are less expensive than the brand-named alternative and may be gluten-free. Also, get in the habit of checking weekly ads for specials and planning your menus before heading to the grocery store.

Look for low-cost alternatives. Eat potatoes or rice instead of gluten-free pasta and noodles. Instead of chips, eat a bowl of old-fashioned popcorn for as little as 20 cents.

Don’t waste any of your more expensive gluten-free products. Place broken crackers, cookies and the end slices of bread in the freezer. The bread slices can be made into bread crumbs and used in a meatloaf, meatballs or as a topping on a casserole. Crush crackers with a rolling pin and use them as a coating on chicken or fish. Cookie crumbs can be layered with yogurt or pudding and fruit for an attractive dessert kids love. They also can be mixed with a small amount of melted butter and used to make a pie crust.

Look for other sources that provide gluten-free specialty products. Amazon.com carries a big variety of gluten-free products and does not charge for shipping with a minimum purchase of $25. Savvy shoppers also have reported finding specialty products in their local dollar-type stores.

For more information about celiac disease and living a gluten-free lifestyle, visit www.chw.org/celiac

Do you have tips and tricks to share with other families regarding gluten-free shopping, cooking or baking? Please share them below!

Elaine Danner, RD, CD, CNSD, works with kids and families in the Bonnie Lynn Mechanic Celiac Disease Clinic.

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