A gluten-free, lactose-intolerant diet is expensive for a couple of reasons. First, we must include ingredients that aren’t used by the general population. Foods that can sell en masse are cheaper because of the economies of scale. Secondly, we can’t buy cheaper processed foods because they are far too high in calories and, for some of us, too packed full of additives.
A number of gluten-free bloggers discuss ways to save $$$. Here are two whose tips I found helpful (although they sound similar, they only overlap a bit):
- 10 Gluten-Free Living on a Budget Tips from Karina at Gluten-Free Goddess
- 10 Tips to Living Gluten-Free on a Budget from Stephanie at Gluten-Free Hope
These bloggers provide excellent, general ideas, and I don’t have to repeat them. Rather, I’d like to focus on ways to save $$$ by buying discounted fruits and vegetables. I know, I know: over-the-hill produce doesn’t look appetizing, and the fruits and vegetables are bagged in bulk. But, but: there are many possibilities for making tasty dishes while helping out your bank balance. Here are some of my solutions when I couldn’t resist a bargain and ended up with large amounts of aging produce.
- Banana bread, of course! Try Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Squares, or Muffins.
- Something different! Banana-Coconut Bean Bake.
Berries: I feel I’ve hit the jackpot when I find berries on the discounted-food rack. If they’ve not reached the age of mold, you can make great low-cal cobblers and other berry desserts.
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Cinnamon Blueberry Cobbler
- Crustless Strawberry/Raspberry Lime Chia Pie
- Strawberry-in-Season Cobbler
Cauliflower/Broccoli: Soups, bakes, and vegetable roasts.
- Cauliflower Bean Bake with Cheese, Dill, and Olive
- Cauliflower-Salsa Bean Bake
- Cauliflower-Carrot Bean Bake with Ginger and Garlic
- Creamy Broccoli Soup
- Creamy Cauliflower Soup
- Cauliflower-Carrot Bake
- DIY Roasted Vegetable Medley
Mushrooms: Recently, I bought five large packages of brown, sliced mushroom for a total of 16 cups and a savings of $7.00. I made about a gallon of Just Mushroom Soup. We ate it all the soup over a period of four days, but I could also have frozen some of it. Another recipe that uses up 2½ cups of mushrooms is Mushroom Bean Bake with Sage and Olive.
Eggplants and Plums: I found a package of eight eggplants, but when I opened it, what I thought were tiny eggplants turned out to be six wrinkled plums. I guess the store was selling produce by colour that day!
- I used the Chinese eggplant, which wasn’t too far gone, in “Free Spirit” Fried Rice.
- I used the large eggplant, which was fairly far gone, in Easy but Elegant Eggplant Soup.
- I used the very squishy plums in Cinnamony Stewed Plums.
I keep buying marked-down eggplants and now have two more recipes where they can be used:
- If they’re in decent shape, try Mushroom-Eggplant Vegetable Pie
- If further down the hill, try Eggplant Strata with Minted Yogurt
Tomatoes: It is now the season for tomatoes, and I keep finding discounted bags of tomatoes at the market. I make diced tomatoes by blanching them until their skins split and can be easily removed. (If you’re not sure how to do this, check out a YouTube video on “skinning tomatoes.” There’s lots of them.) Then I cut them up and use them whenever a dish calls for diced tomatoes:
- Tomato Split-Pea Lentil Soup with Carrots and Cumin
- Faux Lasagna, with Tofu and Carrot Noodles
- Peanut Butter Tomato Soup
- So Very Vegetable Soup
- Shirataki with Tomatoes and Cheese
- Tomato-Basil Egg-Drop Soup
- Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs
Turnips: Getting-soft turnips can be used in Slimmed-Down Turnip Puff which I make for dinner in place of potatoes.
Root Vegetables: Turnip, rutabaga, kohlrabi, celery root, carrots, fennel, etc. Mix and match with a roasted vegetable medley. If you don’t want to use a dressing for diet reasons, then add ½ cup chicken broth and bake covered at 350° F for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. Done!
If you have any great ways to save $$$ on your fruits and vegetables, I’d love to hear from you!