Do you have a hard time finding frugal foods for a gluten-free diet?
We eat a real food diet, which for most of the family includes lots of frugal foods like eggs, oatmeal and homemade baked goods. However, for my youngest son and my husband (who suffer from multiple food allergies), these foods cause terrible reactions and are completely off-limits.
Thankfully, we have found lots of healthy and frugal alternatives at my regular grocery store, Aldi.
While doing our yearly personal finance snapshot, I calculated our food spending makes up 12% of our budget. Ouch! Tiffany is such an inspiration to me with her amazingly frugal grocery budget. I’m hoping to pare our number a bit this year, especially by serving more of our favorite frugal foods.
Note from Tiffany: I’m so glad Sarah is sharing this resource with you all today! Some of the best deals in my area are from Grocery Outlet, and I hear that Aldi is very similar! For those who don’t live near an Aldi, these previous posts might be helpful as well:
- Real Food at Costco
- Gluten-free Real Food at Costco
- Real Food at Trader Joe’s
- Real Food at the Dollar Store
Top 11 Frugal Gluten-free Foods to Buy at Aldi
1. Fresh produce
This one tops my list and for good reason: It’s an entire food group and we eat tons of it!
As with any grocery store, I carefully scrutinize all the produce I buy. There are times when I have to forgo something on my list because the quality just isn’t there. But most of the time, I fill up my cart with loads of fresh fruits and veggies because Aldi has great prices on in-season produce.
Some of my favorite buys include:
- butternut squash and spaghetti squash for 99¢ each
- romaine lettuce package for $3
- giant apples for 50¢ each
- avocados at 66¢ each
- blueberries at 50¢ per pint (when this happens, I buy up to 8 pints)
- blackberries at 99¢ for 6 oz
2. Frozen berries
Blueberries are $3/lb. Strawberries and peaches are even cheaper. All of them are great to keep on hand for smoothies, muffins and homemade sorbet. You could add them to homemade applesauce, or bake a berry pie in the middle of winter!
Probably the most frugal food item on the planet, rice costs just pennies per batch. My son likes to eat it for breakfast topped with butter and brown sugar in place of oatmeal. To help pinch pennies, we could make homemade rice milk, or combine with #7 below and turn plain rice into a festive side dish. It’s also the key ingredient for using up random leftovers in the fridge!
5. Dairy products of all kinds
There are so many delicious things you can make with milk and cheese! Homemade pudding, cheesy homemade GF pizza… Homemade yogurt made with Aldi milk is a staple in our house, or you can make kefir too. Don’t forget, there are more ways to save on cheese besides buying a brick!
Aldi sells frozen wild salmon at $3.50/lb and tilapia under $3!
7. Canned tomato products
Aldi’s organic diced tomatoes are $1.50 for 28 oz. The conventional type is only 99¢. We use these constantly in chili, tomato soup, and Mexican-style beans with tomatoes.
8. Rice cakes
Will can’t eat Aldi’s GF bread because it contains eggs (plus it’s not at all frugal), but he happily eats rice cakes with pizza toppings as a sandwich substitute.
9. GF pasta
I did a happy dance when Aldi started carrying their own GF pasta! Pasta is perfect for those nights when you need an easy dinner. Of course, I still make 2 batches, one of my strategies for managing food allergies around a family meal.
10. Dried beans
Our Aldi has recently started carrying dried black beans. There are a million tasty and frugal things you can do with beans.
This is such a yummy and frugal snack. We pop it on the stove (here’s how) and my 4 boys eat it en masse. A giant batch costs about 50¢ to make.
Did you know stove-popped popcorn keeps well (if it’s not gobbled up, that is)? I like to send a container of popcorn in school lunches for a fun treat, perfect for homemade lunchables.
Depending on what food allergies you’re managing, Aldi has lots of other frugal real food items too.
Here are some of my other staples:
- Natural peanut butter
- Olive oil
- Walnuts, peanuts, whole almonds
- Old-fashioned oats (not gluten-free)
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Uncured bacon
- Rye bread (a concession on busy days with no time to bake homemade bread)
I do bake gluten-free treats for my husband and son, but it’s not an everyday thing.
We find it much simpler and healthier to choose whole-food alternatives that everyone can enjoy instead of trying to recreate lots of wheat-based foods.
With that said, Aldi does have a number of prepared gluten-free foods that we love.
Their GF pretzels and crackers are delicious and I’ve had success with some of their GF baking mixes. But those things are highly processed and often contain lots of sugar (sigh). So we reserve those things for the times when I want to splurge on a portable snack that someone else has made.
Managing food allergies does require a little extra planning and preparation, but it certainly doesn’t have to destroy your grocery budget!
Do you shop at Aldi? What sort of frugal gluten-free foods have you found a good deal on?
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