Tag Archives: celiac’s

The cost of eating gluten free

Thanks to a nifty new app on my iPhone that I got called Mint I can now budget and track my spending online and on my phone.

Seeing how much money I spend on food on a weekly and monthly basis has gotten me thinking more about the cost of a gluten free diet. According to the USDA, the average single woman aged 19-50 should spend around $159/month on a “Thrifty Plan” and $316/month on a “Liberal Plan” for groceries.

I set a budget of $400/month to spend on groceries (not including eating out). So I guess I’m on the “Extra Liberal Gluten Free Plan”. Even if I spent on the top end of that amount, I probably spend at least $80-$100 more on groceries a month than the average gal. So, that’s about $960 – $1,200 more a year.

I’m fortunate enough to have enough disposable income to not worry too much about what I’m spending on food. And since finding things to eat on a gluten free diet can be difficult enough on its own, without having to take cost into consideration, I’m grateful that I can afford to spend what I do.

That said, there are a few things that I do to keep my grocery costs down:

1. I don’t eat meat
While I do eat seafood about twice/week, keeping my diet mostly vegetarian helps remove some of the big ticket items from my list like steak, lunch meat, etc.And plant proteins are far less expensive.

2. I buy store brand or mainstream where I can
For staples like sugar, canned goods, and spices, I go to normal grocery stores or Target and get the cheap stuff. If I’m making a ton of cookies for work, for example, I’m not going to use a $8 jar of peanut butter, I’ll use a $1.99 jar from Safeway. When it doesn’t affect the quality of what I’m making, I’ll get it as cheap as I can.

3. I try to avoid gimmicks
There are a ton of new gluten free products coming out on a seemingly daily basis. Some of them look great, or are something that I’ve been looking for. Some don’t look that great, but I’ve bought them before because of that pretty “gluten free” label slapped on the packaging. Then I’ve gotten them home, tried them, and cursed myself for spending $7 on a box of cookies that aren’t even close to as good as the ones I can make at home. I’ve tried to become better at telling myself that I don’t have to try every new product that comes out.

And a few things that drive my expenses up:

1. Specialty products I can’t live without
That’s an exaggeration, but there are some gluten free products that I love that are just expensive. I love Glutino pretzels, but they’re $7 a bag. So, I only buy them occasionally. I also love Bakery on Main’s granola, but again, I think it’s $7.99 a bag. Usually I try to resist buying them unless they’re on sale.

2. Keeping up the variety and nutrients
I’ve found it to be really easy to get into an eating rut on a gluten free diet. For example, I love Pacific Foods tomato soup. So, for about two months straight I ate it. Every. Day. Now I try to load my basket with different fruits, veggies, and kinds of whole grains/proteins (quinoa, lentils, beans, tempeh, tofu) to keep me interested. Trying new recipes and flavors helps me feel more content and less frustrated with having to eat gluten free.

That said, all of that variety comes with a cost. Quinoa is $6 a box, spices are expensive, and rare fruits/veggies can add up. Not to mention all of the nuts and nut butters I eat. I can easily spend $30 on nuts alone at the store.

3. Laziness
I try, I really try to make things myself. But making bread with Pamela’s bread mix is so easy that I always buy the mix instead of getting ingredients and figuring it out myself. While I’ve gotten used to paying $9 for a loaf of bread, sometimes when I see a delicious gluten-filled artisan loaf on the shelf for $4, I get jealous.

The same goes for bars. I could easily make my own granola bars, or Kind Bar-type bars (which I do sometimes), but when I’m out and need something quickly I can end up spending $2.50 on a snack.

In conclusion, eating gluten free is a strain on the wallet for a number of reasons. It took me years to figure out a balance between splurging and saving on different grocery items, but I feel like I’m at a pretty livable place right now.

Any tips on saving money while grocery shopping gluten free? Or anything that you spare no expense on?


How to date someone who’s gluten free

After reading Gluten Dude’s post about the importance of spousal support when you have Celiac’s, I started thinking about the similarities/differences when you are still in the dating stage with someone who had to eat gluten free. Since you haven’t pledged to be around “in sickness and in health” yet, how accommodating or supportive do you need to be?

So, here are a few “Do’s” and “Don’ts” on how to successfully date someone with Celiac’s – or at least not completely piss them off.

1. DON’T feel like you have to be an expert in gluten free food.
Especially when first dating someone, I wouldn’t expect them to know that I can’t eat say, malt extract.That’s for me to know.

2. DO know the basics.
It is pretty easy to remember that I can’t eat anything with flour in it, or the word “wheat”. Plus if you know the basics I won’t have to give you a blank stare when you pass me the bread basket at dinner.

3. DON’T mock me.
If you think it’s funny to make overly exaggerated “mmm” sounds, or wave a bagel in front of my face. It’s not. Really… it’s not. I get it, I can’t eat yummy food. You can feel free to enjoy it, and even tell me how much you’re enjoying it, but just don’t make fun of me that I can’t have it.

4. DO let me smell your food.
Yeah, I know it’s weird. But smell is seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste, so it’s the closest I can get to eating some foods. I might be fooling myself, but sometimes just taking a whiff of something is enough to give me an idea of how it tastes and allow me to enjoy whatever it is I’m eating.

5. DON’T speak for me.
There are some times I really don’t feel like answering questions or talking about Celiac’s. So if we’re at a party, don’t just randomly announce that I have it. “Oh, she can’t have that, she has this DISEASE.” Unless I’m starving to death, and give you some kind of signal that I’m going to pass out, I’m okay. I’ll bring it up if necessary or I feel like it.

6. DO be willing to try new things.
If I want to make you a gluten free pancake breakfast, or go out to a random vegan/gluten free bakery, don’t turn your nose up at it. Try it: if you hate it we’ll go get you an Egg McMuffin or something. I promise gluten free soy sauce tastes the same, and most of what I make will be so delicious you won’t care it isn’t the “normal” way you’re used to having it.

7. DON’T fawn over me.
This kind of goes along with #5. I can take care of myself, and I don’t need special considerations made for me at every turn. Sure, I won’t be overly ecstatic to go to a deep dish pizza place for dinner with your friends, but I’ll deal. I’ll feel worse if every one else has to go somewhere they’re not stoked about, and won’t enjoy myself anyway. Of course, if there’s a logical substitution (ie: there’s a place that’s equally as good that carries gluten free crust) then by all means, suggest it.

8. DO be understanding, and make an effort.
Sometimes having Celiac’s can be really frustrating. I can get grumpy if I can’t find anything to eat somewhere, or have to eat a salad when I really want something hearty. It’s not you, it’s the gluten.

Extra points if you make some kind of effort to be overly understanding – pick up a gluten free cookie you see at the store, take me to a restaurant I haven’t heard of that’s gfree-friendly, or make dinner. It’s not too difficult and I’ll love it way more than flowers.

Have you ever dated someone who did a really good job of supporting you, or a really bad job of it? What tips would you give to someone dating someone with Celiac’s?