Food Allergies on a Budget – Part 3

It’s time for part 3 of the Food Allergies on a Budget series!  In case you missed them, here are part 1 and part 2.  This time we’ll be taking a closer look at the practical things that need to happen in your kitchen when you have to start eliminating foods from your diet.

Practical Approaches

1. Cross-contamination – An important factor when cooking with allergy free foods is cross contamination.  This is especially important for those with anaphylactic type reactions to foods.  If you plan to cook separate foods for an allergy free individual, you will need to be sure that you haven’t contaminated the cooking space at all with the wrong ingredients.  A simple example to illustrate would be with pastas.  Say you have one individual in your family who has a gluten allergy or intolerance and you want to prepare rice pasta for them and regular pasta for the rest of the family. (This is certainly the cheaper way to go in the situation.)

You will need to be sure not to use the same pasta server in both pots as you cook the two types of pastas.  You will want to use 2 different colanders, or drain the rice pasta first, as to not contaminate the colander with the wheat pasta. You will want to use clean pots and pans and not just “rinse and reuse” from wheat pasta to rice pasta.

1. Cook from scratch – Unless you want to buy all the overpriced allergy free products that are out there, you are going to have to get on the “slow food bandwagon” and start cooking from scratch.  It’s just easier doing it yourself and knowing that your food is safe for you or your family member to eat and won’t send them to the hospital or into terrible stomach cramps or pain!

2. Avoid all together – As I mentioned before, it may just be that you have to eliminate nuts, dairy, turkey…whatever it may be…permanently, just for peace of mind.  Figure out the work arounds and start exploring and cooking with those new ingredients.

3. Create “the shelf” – If you find yourself in a situation where just one member of the family is eliminating a food for allergy or intolerance reasons, then create a shelf in the pantry and a shelf/section in the freezer for the allergy free foods that they need.  Talk to your family and tell them that these products are only for such family member and that they are a little more expensive, so please don’t eat them.  For your pocketbooks sake!

5. Going out to Dinner – Dealing with food allergies when out on the town can be extremely difficult, as you have no idea what specific ingredients that are used in preparing the foods.  If you have a soy allergy, you wonder if the restaurant uses soybean or vegetable oil to fry or saute.  If you have a dairy allergy, you wonder if the bagels or muffins are made with bread.

Don’t be afraid to ask to see the ingredient list.  Don’t be afraid to take your own food into the restaurant with you…just politely explain that it’s for your child or yourself, as you have a severe allergy, but still want to be able to enjoy eating out without worrying. Most will understand.

Check out sites like “Food Allergies To Go” and “Gluten Free Restaurants” to help you find restaurants in your area that are allergy free friendly.

6. Kids Parties – What on earth do you bring to a kid’s birthday party?! If you are gluten free or nuts free, try this chocolate mug cake.  Can be made in just a few minutes, as everyone is scurrying about to get out the door to the party.  If you are dairy free, take along some sorbet that your child can eat as the other kids enjoy their ice cream.

What other tips or tricks do you have to share with us when it comes to dealing with food allergies practically in the kitchen?!

If you struggle with finding the best deals and coupons for allergy-free foods, then please sign up for the free email updates that include all the allergy free food coupons and deals!  If you know someone who deals with food allergies and needs to do so on a budget, please share this information with them :)

See more $5 Dinners Cooking Tutorials here


  1. Kara says

    My daughter (Age 6) is highly sensitive to dairy (discovered this about a year ago) and we’ve been able to work around it better than I ever imagined. It helps that she has a TREMENDOUS attitude about it all. Anyway, the thing I’ve found that works great when she has a birthday party to go to is to let her take one of the Good Life candy bars that she LOVES as her special treat. It requires no prep and since they are rather pricey, it’s a great treat to save for these occasions when she might otherwise be sad about not having cake and ice cream.

  2. Cheri says

    My three daughters are dairy allergic. Occasionally we splurge on vegan cheeses (LOVE Daiya), but I also consult The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak, for making my own, less expensive cheesy dishes.

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