Help with food budget! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-05-2012, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
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All right Mama's I need your help! I prided myself on being a Crazy Coupon Lady, and was feeding our whole family (5 people) on $200 a month! I had a huge stockpile, and I was donating about 10 bags of groceries each month! I was so ecstatic and thought we were finally getting somewhere... then, we found out we need to eat gluten free because of our daughter's health. We decided only feeding her gluten free was too much of a hassle and wasn't really fair to her, so we all switched. Now, we are spending $200 a week!

How can we cut costs since coupons really are few and far between? I'm sure there have to be other gluten free families... so how do you make it work? Is $800 a month for a family of 5 that horrible for gluten free? lol. Any tips would just be helpful :)

Kourtney, happily married to my soldier and raising ds 7/08 .... dd 7/10..... and ds 11/11

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#2 of 8 Old 02-06-2012, 02:17 PM
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OK- we are not gluten free so take this for what it is worth.  I think you need to rethink what you are buying.  Beans and rice should work well for you and are cheap.  But buying gluten free versions of things are going to cost a fortune- as you know :)  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant lasagna, bean soups (these don't have to be boring- you can make it a million ways), rice thrown in (get a rice cooker- it is one of my best friends :)  I don't think spelt is gluten free- that is about the only grain I use to bake.  

Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#3 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post

But buying gluten free versions of things are going to cost a fortune- as you know smile.gif

This. We've been gluten-free for a while & the biggest way we save is avoiding gluten-free substitutes -- you know, GF bread, cakes, cookies, pastas, sauces, pretzels, crackers, etc. Stay out of the GF section & focus on what else is in the store, what is naturally GF. A lot of ethnic foods tend to be GF & inexpensive -- Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean... We do a lot of veggies, fruit, beans, nuts, a bit of rice & other GF grains (though we're cutting back on that)... You can do dairy and eggs and meats, which IME are more satisfying & filling than GF pasta or bread. What kind of things are you currently buying? What does your family like to eat?

$800 does sound a bit high but $200 sounds really low so I'm guessing with the change in your diet that you'll ultimately end up somewhere in the middle of that range. What kinds of things were you stock-piling before? We are only a family of 3, and 2 of us need to eat GF, so it makes sense for us all to eat that way. But for a family of 5 with only one that needs GF, I'd continue to use gluten items for the rest of the family (as long as you can avoid cross-contamination) except for family meals. So snacks, lunches you pack for work/school, sandwiches, etc. maybe you don't need all those to be GF for everyone?? Would that help you get back into couponing & stock-piling a bit?

Where do you shop? The places I shop now don't take coupons. So I can't save that way but there are so rarely coupons I can use anyway. Where I shop, you hardly even need to think about the prices, because 9 times out of 10 they will be WAY WAY WAY lower than anywhere else. Look for bag-your-own places, or small ethnic shops... LOL I always say, look for the red-white-and-blue logos for stores, the ones that are incredibly mundane and ugly, and that will probably be a cheap place to shop.

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#4 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 07:17 AM
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I used to watch a little girl who was gluten free and I too found staying away from the marketed gluten free products was the way to go.... we would get a loaf of bread and store it in the freezer- that was a special thing.




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#5 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 11:11 AM
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I agree with staying away from the processed gluten free stuff.  Maybe have some GF Bisquick around for biscuits and gravy but there are so many whole foods that don't have gluten and wheat.  Fresh fruit and veg, hummus, meats, eggs, rice, quinoa, potatoes...try to change your families expectation that bread, crackers and pretzels are a staple.  Not easy but necessary.  


I have budgeted $165 a week for our family of five.  With an extra $35 a week for for my family, $200 a week is reasonable.  

Trying to build up my house, not tear it down namaste.gif.   Got 3 wonderful kids jumpers.gif  ribboncesarean.gif autismribbon.gif, blessed with a wonderful husband luxlove.gif and have the privilege of staying home full time to enjoy it all! 

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#6 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 04:41 PM
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I agree with a lot of the other suggestions and though this tends to get people in the GF world heated, I'm going to throw it out there anyway.  If you are a baker and/or you use starches or rice flours in cooking, they can be costly.  Take a look at your local Asian market, if you have one, because they sell white rice flours and starches inexpensively.  Also, check Amazon because they sell organic brown rice flour pretty inexpensively.


I don't think $800/month sounds crazy for a family of 5, but it really depends where that money is going, how you eat, and whether you can afford to spend that much.  Also, maybe if you shared information on what you're spending the bulk of that money on, people could make suggestions on cheaper, gluten-free alternatives.

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#7 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 05:37 PM
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Another in agreement with the others.  Besides the other specifics mentioned, Thai and Vietnamese cooking tends to be naturally GF - using rice, rice noodles, rice papers...which can also be purchase pretty inexpensively at an ethnic market, or even in regular ones depending on where you are.  We do lots of potatoes in our family for a starchy side.  I'm the only one who is full time gluten free right now (and I slip here and there - I do it because I feel a lot better when I do) but it does make it easier most of the time to just all eat that way, and I'd really prefer everyone in my family to be off gluten eventually.


When I long for baked bready things, I like Pamela's mixes or use almond flour usually.  I do like to keep a loaf of Udi's in the freezer.  That stuff can get expensive though, esp for 5 people!


One other idea....if you aren't worried about having some gluten in the house and it is just a convenience issue....some things are easy to make ahead and freeze.  Like last weekend, DH wanted biscuits and gravy.  So I made a double batch of regular (gluten) biscuits and just baked a few.  I froze the rest on a cookie sheet unbaked and then tossed them in a freezer bag.  Then I did the same with some grain free biscuits for me.  So the next couple times we want biscuits for a meal, I can just pull a few out of the freezer to bake off and not have to do all the work of making them from scratch....and still save a bit of $ since some are regular flour.  I do the same if I make pizza dough.  Anyway, that might not work for you but just a thought that definitely saves me time and in your case might help save a little $.  I try not to make those kind of meals very often but sometimes the family really wants them!


Good luck!

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#8 of 8 Old 02-20-2012, 04:43 PM
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1/2 of our family is GF. I spend $800/mo for our family 6 and growing. Really the only things non GF I buy are snacks. I do buy GF snacks too for the 12 year old and 1 year old, but they are only for the GF members of the family (dh, dd1, and dd3). Buying too many GF snacks breaks the bank!

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