Two years ago I was diagnosed with a gluten-intolerance, which essentially means that my body doesn’t process gluten, an additive to certain food products, primarily wheat. I know what you’re thinking: “How does this girl survive? She can’t even eat brownies or chocolate chip cookies.” Trust me. I understand. I cried over my first no-brownie experience. However, not being able to eat brownies wasn’t my only challenge as a gluten-free college student. Have you ever looked at gluten-free products? You will be shocked at how expensive they are. I pay anywhere between $5-6 on a loaf of bread that may last a week. And, don’t even get me started on the chocolate chips that are $4 a package.
The bottom line? Gluten-free eating on a college student budget can be hard. So for those of you, eating gluten-free, struggling to keep your grocery bill at $50 a week or less, here’s what you do.
Skip the bread
I know it’s hard, especially if you’re partial to peanut butter on toast. However, gluten-free bread is expensive, and it has more calories than regular bread. If you’re trying to save some money, try eating eggs for breakfast, and making lettuce wraps for lunch. Not only will you be saving some money, you’ll also be eating a lot healthier.
Avoid all packaged foods
In the event that I need pasta or something that comes in a package, I try to only purchase it when it’s on sale. In reality, I don’t eat pasta enough to be consistently buying it and pretzels are more of an occasional purchase. So watch for certain packaged foods like pretzels, pasta, granola, and other similar products to go on sale before purchasing them.
Make your own pizza
Gluten-free pizza is very expensive whether you buy frozen (which ends up only being enough to feed one person) or from pizza restaurants with gluten-free options. However, gluten-free pizza crust kits are cheap, and you can buy generic sauce and cheese to make your own pizza that will taste better and last longer.
Don't make lateral shifts
The biggest mistake you can make when going gluten-free is making the assumption that you should just replace products that contain gluten with products that don’t. That method will end up costing you more money than you planned because gluten-free products are significantly more expensive. Take this opportunity to eat more fruits and vegetables. Not only will your wallet thank you, your body will as well.
Don't get discouraged
If you’re new to gluten-free eating it takes a while to get used to it. Take a deep breath, and stick to your budget. Find healthy alternatives to your favorite meals. You can do it, I promise.