6 Tips for Eating Wheat-Free Cheaply

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are concerned about the cost of eating a wheat-free diet, and I’ll admit that I was initially nervous about this too. A diet that is free of wheat, however, can actually be less expensive than one that revolves around it, I have found.

Here are some of my tips for going wheat-free in a money-savvy way:

1) This is probably the most important thing that will save you money – do NOT simply replace all of your wheat-filled foods with wheat substitutes. For example, switching from eating regular pasta (which is cheap) to eating rice pasta (which costs more) is not a wise way of going about things.  Firstly, this kind of negates all of the hard work you are putting into this whole new lifestyle change.  Why go through all the effort of meticulously cutting out wheat only to replace it with more carbs?  Go big or go home, I say!  Because hey, spelt pasta is effing pricy, and you’re not really going to lose much weight (if that is your goal) by replacing carbs with carbs. And your wallet will be all empty and when you open it a moth might even fly out. Honestly, food companies take advantage of people that are gluten-free and they jack up those prices because they know you literally have no other choice.  If you look at the gluten-free aisle, if you have one, it’s all garbage food anyway; cookies, cake mix, chips, etc., the only difference being that there is no wheat.  But if you sit around eating bonbons all day and buying overpriced wheat alternatives, you’re going to end up fat and poor.  So next time you are cooking, pretend carbs don’t exist. To you, they aren’t invented yet.  Make a salad with apples, pecans, spinach and feta cheese. Bake some carrot sticks with ginger and salt in the oven like faux french fries. Slice open a red pepper and fill it with baked tuna and chives. Get creative!  Step away from the carbs.

2) Now I’m going to say the opposite of what I just said (sort of).  If you absolutely cannot live without your rice/spelt/chickpea/coconut bread or what have you, make it yourself. It’s really not rocket science. I know this because I bake my own bread and I definitely do not understand rocket science. Or any math for that matter.  I can, however, deduce that paying $6.99 for a tiny loaf of rice bread every week will tip me over the poverty line. So what you have to do is buy a bread maker.  And you’re going to buy it used. And that’s going to be okay with you because you know that the bread you buy at the store was made in a bread maker that someone else operated also, so it isn’t a gross or disturbing concept.  Now, I can’t speak for every place in the world, but where I live I cannot walk into a thrift store without bumping into a basically new bread maker.  I have had 2 different bread makers – one which was purchased new for about $200, and another from the thrift store which was almost the exact same model but cost $9.  The thrift store one works better. So I urge you to step into your local Salvation Army or equivalent and grab yourself a bread maker. Because you might find that after spending $200 on one that is new, you don’t actually like baking bread. And then you’ll donate it to the thrift store. And someone savvier than you will buy it for $9.

3) This is a bit of a continuation of my last point, but if you are making your own bread with wheat-alternatives, I implore you to venture outside of your usual chain grocery store. The price of rice flour at Safeway is actually laughable it’s so incredible steep.  I have found this to be common at any “common” grocery store.  They market rice flour as though it is exotic or something. But it really isn’t, it’s just not the usual go-to product.  Other cultures, on the other hand, use rice flour, and other types of flour, very often, so that little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese grocery store on the sketchy end of the street is probably harbouring really cheap rice flour.  This actually applies to all food that you will be purchasing: do not shop at chain stores.  Honestly, the whole point of this wheat-free thing is to be healthier, right? Not to sneakily find ways to almost be eating wheat. So what you need is more vegetables. And where you’re going to buy them is from that little Korean market you usually drive past on your way to the big chain store.  The second you decide to do your produce shopping at a big chain, you have accepted that you are willing to pay upwards of 10% more for your food.  Bananas at my local chain store are 99 cents per pound, and 59 cents per pound at the Nature Market nearby.  $2 for an avocado vs. 89 cents.  $3.99/lb for a red pepper vs. $1.99.  That’s a big difference!   The problem with these markets is you can’t get everything you want there, and honestly, you shouldn’t.  For some strange reason that I’m sure is not so strange once you actually know what it is, milk, cheese, and meat are obscenely expensive at these tiny markets, so I do purchase these items at the chain store.  Basically, if you are willing to go to more than one store to do your shopping, you will save a buttload of cash over time.

4) Learn. to. cook. I cannot stress this enough. And don’t overthink it either. It doesn’t have to be this massive undertaking that leaves you lying awake at night wondering about the preferred width of julienned carrots.  Just do what works for you and keep it simple.  Eating out or buying pre-made “gluten-free” dinners is your ticket to the poorhouse.  Making a salad will cost you about $2, whereas buying one will cost as much as $12.  Buy chicken in bulk and freeze what you aren’t using immediately. Thaw it when you want it, throw it in the oven, and voila. Not hard, but requires adjustment.

5) Don’t buy snack food. I don’t mean “don’t snack,”  just don’t buy food that has been categorized as snack food.  They are always overpriced, never good for you, and are only popular because they require no thought or effort.  But you are willing to put in effort because you’re poor, like me, right?  So instead, you’re going to snack on other things.  Go to the bulk aisle and buy yourself some cashews. Again, it may be worth checking out a smaller non-chain store for these kinds of things.  Don’t buy pecans because they cost so much that they will make you question everything you believe in. Walnuts are cheaper. Peanuts are cheapest but they aren’t actually a true nut, and are therefore not as healthy for you. Especially the salty ones.  Cut up cheese slices for a snack. Kraft Singles don’t count, you cheater. Buy a tub of yogurt and have a small bowl whenever you can’t make it until dinner.  It’s not hard, but it is harder.

6) Eat breakfast often. And I don’t just mean for breakfast!  Ever notice that breakfast is just really cheap? Even at diners or restaurants, it manages to be inexpensive.  A cheap dinner out would probably be $15, but a cheap breakfast will be $3.99 and you will be rolling around like a beached whale due to fullness afterwards. So cook breakfast a lot. Who says eggs, turkey bacon, baked tomatoes, and a rice cake with peanut butter can’t be a dinner? To anyone that does, I ask, who made you king of the meals? I can have my breakfast and eat it too. Twice even.

Okay, I’m sleepy now and my brain has stopped functioning for the day but I hope that helps. Add your ideas in the comments if you like!  Powering…down….beeeeeeeeeeeeep.


40 thoughts on “6 Tips for Eating Wheat-Free Cheaply

  1. I found your site through pinterest and I’m so glad! My husband and I are going Wheat Free and I needed to find what was up and how to even go about it! Thanks for the advice! 🙂

  2. Okay…where were you yesterday when I spent a crapload of $$$ on gluten free crap and junk ? This was very very enlightening ! Could you give some advice regarding good ideas for snack foods? Having Reactive Hypoglycemia I need to snack often, I work 7hr days and out of the house about 10hrs & trying to figure out what I’m going to do once I go, “wheat free”. I’m suspecting wheat intolerance, due to years of stomach issues that have not been explained through many doctor visits. Yesterday at the grocery store I loaded up on “replacement” junk…and about blew my lid at the register. I was waiting for my bank to call to see if I was joking. Spending that much at a grocery store and not buying any clothing or shoes… Insane. Excited to read more of your experiences with wheat free living ! Keep up the good work ! 🙂

    • Hi. I had the same experience – crazy dollars spent on gluten free! Then I read ‘Wheat Belly’ by Dr. Wm Davis. Now I know why gluten free is a minor player in the health game. Carbs kill. Carbs injure. Carbs bulk you up. Wheat is the most prolific carb in our diet and damages our health more than any other. But don’t exchange one problem for another. Let wheat free living be a passport into the land of healthy living and break free of those other heath damaging agents, carbs. Bake, cook and eat well.
      P.S. you might want to look into the idea of ‘Food Combining’ for other gastrointestinal problems. I was able to get off acid reflux meds by eating this way.
      Best wishes

  3. How true you are, taking a little extra time can really save you big time. My husband and I just started the wheat free diet and learning to cook has actually been fun. I find this new way is basically simple living.

  4. Thank you for posting, I’m scared to take the plunge into wheat free because I don’t think my family will come along for the ride and I may be buying food for me and food for them.

    • Hi. Buy the ‘Wheat Belly Cook Book’ and you family will love the foods you cook and the awesome cookies, cakes, muffins, pies and treats you bake from the easy to follow recipes.

  5. Today I decided- wheat free…thank you for all of this info!!!!!!!!!! Now…to learn to bake bread…lol~
    Still so many questions, but you have given me a jump start!!!

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  7. I am in the process of trying to “convert” my family to Wheat Free eating and the biggest argument so far is “it’s too expensive” so this posting was great for us. I’m not sure I will be baking bread but the next time I stop in at the thrift store and see a bread maker, I just may buy it. Thanks!

    • Hi Beverly: How is your conversion into the “wheat free” world going? I was off to a roaring start but have dwindled back into my bad habits after a short week. I am glad I re-read this Blog. Everything makes so much sense! Good luck to you!

  8. Your entire Blog was informative, well written and full of excellent information! I have witnessed first-hand a transformation in the form of one of my daughter’s friend who had constant stomach problems and was told that she had to eliminate all wheat products. Period. She has lost every single extra ounce of fat that she was carrying around, has beautiful clear skin, no longer suffers from a stomach ache and feels 110% better than she used to! Although I feed 5 other people, all of whom are not in the least interested in eating “wheat free”, I am going to start this tomorrow. For me. I spent all day making a “diet sheet” to follow to try and get back on track and get the excess weight off and now have ripped that sheet up. I have replaced this sheet with GO BIG ~ OR GO HOME!!!! So that is exactly what I intend to do ~ starting tomorrow morning. Thank you again. You have given me incentive to change things for the better.

  9. I have just found your site. This is a great post. Many thanks for the help this has give me. I am just going wheat free and feeling so much better and the weight is dropping off.

  10. I’ve just embarked on a carb free diet as I’m sick of feeling bloated constipated tired and over weight. I’m wheat intolerant anyway so I won’t miss it. Loved your ‘blog’, you are spot on 🙂 great advice and tips. Thank you.

  11. Have just started a wheat free/low carb diet today, as with everyone else I am tired if have aches and pains, being overweight, and generally feeling not so pretty and not so well. Looking forward to being healthy ! Thanks for the tips, it was beginning to feel overwhelming! But its not, its simple, have lots of simple foods, though I would really love some cereal for brekky!

  12. Thanks to you for your great post. My husband and I are going to start our Wheat free diet on 1 January 2014. We are both over weight and need to take action now. I have a friend who works at St Vinnies and shall ask her to get me a bread maker. Both hubby and I are looking forward to learn a new way of cooking.

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    Maybe that is you! Looking ahead to see you.

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  15. That was very insightful. I am interested on going wheat free definitely as a health thing but more to aid weight loss. My husband is type 1 diabetic but I am worried this might not be as good for him.

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