10 Tips for Buying Gluten Free for Less Dough
1. Don’t throw food away.
This concept even works well if your gluten free experiment goes bad. Your bread recipe gone awry can turn into breadcrumbs, croutons or an awesome French Toast Casserole (we have 3 recipes to choose from here.) Flat cookies can turn into pie crust or ice cream toppings. Crunch them up and put them in the freezer to use later. A bland casserole can be the beginning of a fantastic soup. I recently turned a leftover GF chicken potpie and some leftover cauliflower into one of the best soups we’ve ever had.
2. Buy naturally gluten free groceries
Potatoes, rice, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, meats, fish, & poultry in their natural states are naturally gluten free. Look for store specials and farmer’s markets to stock up on a budget. Some people swear by Asian stores for cheap rice and rice noodles.
3. Special order a case from your grocery store or health food store.
Many stores will special order a case of your favorite gluten free product and give you 10% off on it. Win/win. You don’t have to pay for shipping, and they don’t have to find shelf space for products that they are afraid they may not be able to sell, or have you clean off the shelf of their whole inventory.
4. Buy major national brands, when trusted.
Buying specifically gluten free brands is always more expensive than buying a naturally gluten free products from a large national brand. Food companies are becoming increasingly more allergy friendly. Many products are run on dedicated lines that never run gluten filled products, or have processes in place to help prevent cross-contamination. Confirming the process with an email or phone call can put your mind at ease in some cases and free you up to buy some much cheaper products that are often on sale at your grocery store.
Some large companies that have gluten free options and are frequently on sale and offer coupons are: Betty Crocker, Boar’s Head, General Mills, Zatarains, Kraft, Frito Lay, Chex Cereals, Progresso Soups and Sauces, Heinz, just to name a few. Get a Gluten Free Shopping Guide to help figure out the brands you used to buy that you didn’t even know were gluten free. Some good resources are: Cecelia’s Marketplace Shopping Guide and cell phone app “Is that Gluten Free.”
5. Shop at large chain stores.
I always try to buy things in a physical store before checking online. I have Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in my area as well as just about any other chain store you can think of. In fact, I have four Whole Foods stores within 15 minutes of my house, but I do have compassion if you don’t. If you live in a small town, that may not be an option for you very often, but even Target, Wal-Mart and Costco (or something like it) are good stores for filling in some gluten free items and many small towns have at least one of those nearby.
6. Price Compare Online with Google Shopping
If you only want a few things, Use the “shopping” button on Google under the “more” tab. Type in the product you want in the search box and push “shopping.” Sort that list “By price low to high,” and you have a quick price comparison and even includes estimated shipping costs. If any of those companies offer free shipping, it will say so as well. I tried it with Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour and found a 1 lb bag for $8.99 – that’s up to $4 less than it was on some of the other sites I was familiar with. I never would have found it without that handy “shopping” button.
7. Shop Online from stores that have no shipping charge when possible – or buy a lot at once to save on shipping.
If you are buying just a couple of products, shipping can often cost more than your order. One 16 oz. bag of Bob’s Almond Flour costs an average of $10 online and shipping, where I checked, was an average of $9 for UPS ground and $5.25 USPS from Bob’s, but $78 if I need it tomorrow. Wow, I better plan ahead. CRAZY!
Free From Gluten online store always gives free shipping over $75.
8. Buy in bulk online.
Buying in bulk online is a good way to save if you use a LOT of flour. You can even use the Google Shopping button for that if you know what you are looking for. I compared Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour in bulk on several major sites. You can buy a 1 lb. bag for an average of $11. You can buy 4 – 16 ounce bags for an average of $43 (cheapest is amazon.com at $39), which is about $10.75 per pound. You can also buy a 25 pound bag directly from Bob’s for $90. That’s $3.60 per pound – a HUGE savings, if you’d use it all.
9. Take Advantage of Frequent Buyer and Special Deals
I found a few great money saving frequent buyer deals.
Vistacost is frequently the least expensive site I’ve found for gluten free items. They may not have everything you want, but I always check here first. They have a lot, and what they have is always a deep discount. Your order ships free if it is over $49. If you search on gluten free vitamins, they have a nicely priced section of those as well.
www.Amazon.com has a product subscription plan called “Subscribe and Save.” Here’s how it works. For products you frequently buy, you can “subscribe” to have that product delivered at regular intervals. You choose the product you buy frequently and the delivery schedule. For example, 4 -16 ounce bags of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal are regularly about $39. On the Subscribe and Save plan, you get a savings of $8 plus free shipping. You can cancel any time.
www.glutenfreemall.com has several ways to save. Check the Specials and Coupons before you place your order, which has selected items on sale for 20%-50% off. If you buy 10 or more of the same item, you get 10% off. They have a reward points program. For each $100 you buy, for example, you get $10 of points that you can use on the next purchase, effectively giving you a 10% discount.
10. Subscribe for email coupons and alerts for products you know you like.
Udi’s and Rudi’s always have coupons on their sites and facebook pages, and many companies will keep you alerted to their specials. Sites like Gluten Free Deals have a daily Groupon-like deal for many of your favorite gluten free items and you can sign up for their daily email alert.
Good luck on your hunt for less expensive gluten free products. Hope this helps! If you have any other great ideas, add them in the comment box below.