gluten free diet

By Mary Frances Pickett


How to Feed a Family of 6 for $9.16 a Day

January 9, 2009

Last February I wrote a 2 part article called “10 Strategies to Lower My Grocery Bill“. At the end of the first part I asked my readers to share their tips on frugal shopping and, if they wanted, to share how much they spend on groceries each month.  The comment below blew my mind:

Heather HH: Our grocery budget had been $275 a month, or an average of less than $70 a week for 2 adults and 4 children (under 7). Groceries are bought in a city of 100,000 in the Midwestern U.S. I make almost everything from scratch, and rarely even buy a can of beans (that’s a convenience item to us!). With prices for gluten-free items, I anticipate our grocery bill will probably be around $350-$400/mth or under $100/wk.

My goal at the time was to get my grocery bill under $600 a month and then work down to $400. I couldn’t imagine only spending $275!  So, I emailed Heather to ask how much she was spending now that they were gluten free and if she would be willing to share her tips. Heather graciously agreed and we exchanged several long emails.

A New Series: Over the course of this month, I’ll be posting Heather’s responses as part of a series called “Gluten Free Grocery Shopping on a Budget”. If you want to make sure that you get all of her great advice, then you can sign up to receive my posts by email (see the box in the top of the right sidebar) or find out about other update options in the tab at the top of the page.

Gluten Free Shopping on a Budget – Part 1:

Mary Frances: I thought about your comment on my grocery budget post when I was at the grocery store tonight. I am amazed that your grocery store budget was so small (at least it seems small to me) for so many people.How is it going now that you’re buying gluten free foods? I would love to know how you do that and to share that with my other readers.

Heather: I’m honestly not exactly sure yet how our budget is now that we’re buying gluten-free foods.  One way that we save money on our grocery
budget is by buying in bulk, and stocking up when items are on sale.
I’ve only been gluten-free for 2 1/2 months, so it’s hard to get a
good sample.  For example, I bought 50 lb of brown rice flour last
month, but I wouldn’t buy that every month!

Our meat supply in the freezer had gotten low, and there were good meat sales this past month.  So I stocked up on boneless skinless chicken, ribs, hamburger, pork sausage rolls, etc.  I won’t have to really buy any meat for 3

Also, we’ve blown some money on trying new things that we won’t buy again.  For example, I can’t stand the taste of amaranth flour, so the rest of that got pitched!  I’d really probably need another 3 or 4 months to get a faithful average.

I actually discovered at the same time that I am lactose-intolerant as
well.  So, we stopped using real butter, and bought Light Blue Bonnet
Margarine, which is cheaper.  And, a lot of casseroles we used to have
included cheese, but now that’s being left out, though sometimes it’s
on the side for the rest of my family.  So, that’s actually saving us
money.  Though, there are definitely more expenses than savings!

I’d say our average monthly bill now is probably about $350-$400 a month
for 2 adults and 4 children under age 7, with baby #5 due in January.
That’s an increase of $80-$130 a month from the days when we didn’t
worry about gluten or dairy.

Let me give you the bullet points on how we save money on the grocery budget.

10 Ways to Save on Gluten Free Groceries:

  1. Stock up on items when on a good sale. A second freezer is a huge help in this category, because you can stock up on meat and frozen vegetables and shredded cheese when on sale.
  2. Make foods from scratch and avoid convenience foods; by this I’m even including buying dried beans instead of canned!  We used to grind our own wheat instead of buying whole wheat flour.  Once we use up ourbrown rice flour, we’re going to grind brown rice to get a flour as fine as we like without the expensive price of the superfine varieties.
  3. Buy generic whenever possible.
  4. Buy in bulk. Some of this is at Sam’s Club, but a lot can also be
    done at standard grocery stores.
  5. Know the cheapest place to get expensive items in your budget.
  6. Buy less expensive produce and less expensive cuts of meat. You can have huge savings in this category.
  7. Selectively have “normal foods,” as this makes for cheap meals when it’s not too difficult for the rest of the family.
  8. Garden.
  9. Make your own convenience foods for the freezer to have for busy days.  If you have a couple homemade casseroles, a pre-baked pizza crust, and a few dozen muffins in the freezer (or a few of your own just-add-egg-oil-and-water mixes), you’re less likely to resort to expensive pre-made items.
  10. Eat leftovers.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series. In the next posts, Heather will go into very specific detail on the 10 points listed above.

P.S.  Here’s my post on “How to Make Gluten Free Bread Mix at Home” that Heather mentioned in  #9.



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