Grocery Budget Makeover – Celiac and Diabetic Diets

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 16, 2010

Jennifer writes…

I have Celiac disesase and also can’t have milk products or soy and my husband has Diabetes.

We shop mostly at WalMart, with trips to Food Lion, Lowes, Harris Teeter and Kroger for sales.  We live in Clayton, NC which is close to Raleigh, NC.  We are simple eaters: we like meat, except liver, we eat potatoes, rice and most vegtables, we don’t eat brussel sprouts, broccoli,or squash.  But we are open to trying anything.  The hardest thing is finding things I don’t have to make two meals because my gluten free isn’t always the best tasting and because of my husbands diabetes, I don’t want him feeling punished by food because of my celiac.

Our weekly grocery bill is between $150 and $250 per week.  I would love to only spend $100 per week on groceries. What can we do?

A few suggestions from me…

1. Make a “static meal plan” using meals that you both like.  For example, some form of Meat and Potatoes in the slow cooker on Mondays, some form of Chicken and Rice on Tuesdays, Anything Goes Salads with Chicken on Wednesday using up leftover chicken from Tuesday, a Beans/Lentils meal on Thursdays, some form of Chili with vegetables on Fridays, etc..

(Here are my gluten free recipes, my dairy free recipes, and my GFCFSF recipes, if you need some inspiration.)

2. Batch cook a few of each of your favorites so you don’t have to stress about cooking 2 different meals all the time.  You’ll already have them made.

3. And it may just be that 2 or 3 nights a week, you eat different things.  While it might be frustrating, it might be necessary for both of your health needs. And that’s OK!

Special diets are difficult to manage…especially when there is more than one involved!  What advice or encouragement do you have for Jennifer? Have any meal suggestions that would accommodate both her and her husband’s dietary needs?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelly @ Coupon Teacher June 16, 2010 at 7:34 am

While I don’t have all the dietary needs you all do, my husband and I occasionally eat separate meals. I can’t have fruit and he loves it, so I have to make an extra effort to buy and serve fruit for him. I also shop at Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Lowes Foods. I know that Harris Teeter has a great selection of items (including gluten free), and often has buy one, get one free sales. The only other help I can be, is that I do coupon matchups for these stores each week, if you need them. I hope you can get some relief from such a high grocery budget!

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mel June 16, 2010 at 9:15 am

We have food allergies in our house and I understand your challenges with special diets. One way we save on meat is buying it in bulk from a butcher. We buy 1/4 cow and 1/2 hog each fall. There are three of us my family (plus we use the meat when we entertain family). The cost for us in Wisconsin is less than $500 and that meat will last us one whole year. We get about 70 lbs of ground beef, beef roasts, steaks, stew meat, pork steaks, pork roast, bacon, pork sausage, ham, ribs, pork chops. It’s a whole freezer full. When you start adding it up it’s a great savings. It’s a lot up front, but worth it for us. The cost is about $1.29 to $1.79 per pound. You can’t ever get steaks or ribs for that cost. You could buy less or go in with a friend, too.

I will brown several pounds of meat ahead of time and make hamburger patties or meatloaf and freeze before cooking. Then I can just pop them out of the freezer into the oven. Saves a lot of stress in cooking and planning.

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Gina June 16, 2010 at 10:46 am

I have celiac disease and the rest of my family eats normally. We live in Boston where groceries are very expensive! My advice is to stick to the naturally gluten free things like fruits, veggies, rice, meats, etc. The farther you stay away from processed and convenience foods the better, and cheaper. We eat very little packaged foods with the exception of tortilla chips and granola bars and a few snacks here and there. It is healthier and less expensive. Buying gluten free mixes can be expensive, too. I invested in a g-free cookbook and have made my own flour mixes so I can make some stuff from scratch. It takes a lot of trial and error but, does save money. What I prepare for dinner, we all can eat. Usually, the family will eat whatever they want for breakfast and lunch and dinners are always gluten-free but good. An example of what we eat on a typical night would be…grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and a green veggie, or a vegetarian taco salad with rice, beans, corn, salsa, etc…Once I got into a groove it was much easier. Sorry to write such a long comment. :)

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Tawra@Living On A Dime June 16, 2010 at 11:12 am

I just started eating gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. At first I thought “what can I eat?” but then quickly realized that out of the 900 recipes in my book at least half were gluten free. All I needed to do was stop eating the baked goods.

Now, I just have 4 meals planned and it’s very simple. I just eat those foods. I tried doing the gluten free baking thing but it was huge mess. You can see my latest mess here http://www.livingonadime.com/blog/?p=4445. I have given up on the gluten free baking and am just buying baked goods now if I need them. The only thing I buy is bread at the moment.

Once you get into it, it’s not hard. Tawra

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Shannon June 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm

weather on a special diet or saving money guidelines stay the same, match your menu to what is on sale, coupon match when ever possible and stock up at the lowest price for 12 week sales cycles. So what differs is what you buy and what buy. You both eat meat, fruits and vege’s these items do go on sale and you can stock up on low prices. You can serve the same main dish with different side dishes. you can use corn meal and ground rice in place of flour for some things. add beans and lentils to your diet.
The real biggie is that saving money is not something that just happens, it takes some time and preparation, if you take the time to plan you and the time to implement that plan you will see a savings. Also just because you are allergic to cows milk doesn’t mean no dairy at all, I bought goats milk products for me when I was breasfeeding my daughter who was reacting badly to dairy in my diet. It was more expensive so I only used a little, but it meant I could eat the same meal as my family.

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Jaime June 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m not the best at telling you how to save money…we spend about $150 – 200 for a family of 4 and I’m trying to get that lower. Hubby and I are both Celiac but the kids are not. They usually eat whatever they want (meaning non-gluten free) for breakfast and lunch but dinner feeds all of us. I really just wanted to comment though because I found it sad that you said your food isn’t always the best tasting or that he’d be “punished” by eating it. I have to say that we’ve been gluten free for 2 years and I’ve never eaten better. I’ve discovered a love for cooking (and while I’m not as great at it, baking) that I never had. Our meals are rich in flavor and typically good for us. Make fruit salads to go with breakfast, salads for lunch can be made ahead of time and served for a few days, grilled meat and veggies, even hamburgers and hot dogs can be delicious gluten free. I think being just the two of you that if you found more meals both of you would eat your food bill would drop dramatically.

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Robyn Plantz June 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Jen,

I am gluten intolerant and diabetic. I find that eating GF is really good for my blood sugar. Not eating all that bread and such is really good for my sugar levels. As a matter of fact, I went to my brother’s for vacation and he and his wife were eating more gluten free than they ever have and by the time I left he was saying he couldn’t believe how low his blood sugar was. I hope you and your husband find a good balance so that you can lower your bills and cut the work in the kitchen.

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Deborah June 18, 2010 at 6:24 am

I found that Fix It and Forget It cookbook has a diabetic version.
http://www.amazon.com/Fix-Forget-Diabetic-Cookbook-Slow-Cooker/dp/1561484598
Definitely meal preparation has saved me money in making meals.

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audrey June 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I live outside Boston and I feed 4 adults and 3 under 5’s including diapers for two kids all for under $200 a week.
I only buy whats on sale unless we absolutely need it (this week it was toilet paper)
and then I make my menu around what I have.
Tomorrow we will have a fathers day banquet of fresh corn, green beans, hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken* and caprese salad. Cheesecake for dessert.
I will forgo the bun and have my burger on a lettuce leaf, don’t need the calories.
I never eat hotdogs I picked up 2 GF choc chip cookies for my dessert. But everything else is naturally GF. I looks like it is going to be hot so I also picked up some frozen treats. Yum!!

*marinade
zest of two limes
juice of same limes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar or less
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt

1/4 some onions
cut up colored peppers
cut chicken into medallions
mix all together in ziploc bag and refridgerate for 1 hour or overnight
soak skewers
you can grill them or cook at 450 on a heavy baking sheet

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lola June 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I, too, noticed that you said your food is lacking flavor and I’d like to share my issues with food as briefly as possible.

I’ve been vegetarian for a long time and then found out that I’m allergic to basically anything that isn’t rice and beans – including corn and soy which are in a lot of gluten free products. So for flavor I use herbs and vegetables and olive oil for flavor. My personal favorites are basil, oregano, garlic, onions and mustard seeds. Buy small quantities of dried herbs to find out what you and your husband like the best and then plant a little bit on a windowsill. Adding a little bit of herbs and spices to the foods you’re already making might help you out flavor-wise. Go to the library for some gluten free cookbooks to get more ideas. If you’re adventurous, try mixing and matching flavors that don’t aren’t traditionally paired together like curry powder with sweet potatoes instead of sugar. Hope that helps.

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