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Gluten-free diet has elevated costs and adhering to it can be costly.
A study analyzed 63 gluten-free products and 126 of their gluten-containing counterparts in 12 different Austrian supermarkets. The products included a broad range of items: bread, cereals, baking mixes, pasta, cookies, cakes, and snacks. Results showed that on average, gluten-free foods were 205% (cereals) to 267% (bread and bakery goods) more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.
Whether this large price gap is because of overpricing due to high demand or processing costs is unclear.
This price gap creates a tremendous burden on strict followers.
Other studies have confirmed this significant price difference as well.
Another study, found that gluten-free products were more expensive (wheat-based products were 76–518% more expensive).
One solution to circumvent this problem is to build the diet around naturally-occurring gluten-free foods and avoid the processed gluten-free alternatives altogether.
This strategy can mitigate the price difference between the two counterparts and increase the number of stores one can buy from.
So, can get the benefits of GFD (declining symptoms and a significantly improved quality of life in patients with CD on a GFD) without the cost burden
Aljada B, Zohni A, El-Matary W. The Gluten-Free Diet for Celiac Disease and Beyond. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 9;13(11):3993. doi: 10.3390/nu13113993. PMID: 34836247; PMCID: PMC8625243.
Pseudo-cereals (e.g. amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat, along with other minor cereals). => find them
Purpose: The treatment of celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life. This diet is assumed to be more expensive, although no studies confirm this assumption. In the current study, the prices of gluten-free foods and regular (gluten-containing) foods were compared to determine if and to what extent gluten-free products are more expensive.
Methods: Prices were compared for all food products labelled "gluten-free" and comparable gluten-containing food items in the same group available at two large-chain general grocery stores. The unit cost of each food, calculated as the price in dollars per 100 grams of each product, was calculated for purposes of comparison.
Results: All 56 gluten-free products were more expensive than regular products. The mean (+/- standard deviation) unit price for gluten-free products was $1.71 (+/- 0.93) compared with $0.61 (+/- 0.38) for regular products (p<0.0001). On average, gluten-free products were 242% more expensive than regular products (+/- 212; range, 5% to 1,000%).
Conclusions: All the commercially available products labelled gluten-free were significantly more expensive than comparable products. This information will be useful to dietitians who counsel individuals and families with celiac disease, and to celiac advocacy groups for lobbying the government about financial compensation.
Then, there’s the fact that many of the raw ingredients in gluten-free products—like sorghum, brown rice, tapioca, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat—are more costly and not subsidized in the same way wheat is, points out Rose.
Make a meal plan before you shop.
“Try meal planning so you know exactly what you are going to make throughout the week,” suggests Forrest. “Make a grocery shopping list so you only buy what you need.” This will help ensure you don’t waste food—or money.
Stick to a diet of mostly whole foods.
Fruits, veggies, beans, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy are all naturally gluten-free.
“These are typically much less expensive than packaged items because they haven’t had to go through processing and all the costs it entails,” says Rose. “Whole foods are also more nutritious, which is especially important for celiacs who often struggle with nutrient deficiencies and a damaged gut lining.” / 1. Focus on whole foods. The most expensive part of a gluten-free diet is buying specialty processed foods like breads, crackers, and cereals. Focus on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free like fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, beans, rice, and eggs. Why? Because they are less expensive and offer more nutrition benefits as well. An added bonus is that whole foods have no tricky labels to check for gluten-containing ingredients.
Bake your own gluten-free breads and desserts.
Since my celiac diagnosis, I’ve been enjoying gluten-free baking—and it turns out this is a major money-saver. “Some of the most expensive gluten-free products to buy are baked goods, including bread, cookies, and crackers,” says Rose. “Save money by making these at home instead.”
Cook in batches and freeze leftovers.
Yes, frozen meals are super-convenient —but gluten-free ones are expensive. “Frozen gluten-free entrees are pricier than conventional ones—but if you make large batches of meals, you can freeze leftovers to make your own ready-to-heat meals,” says Rose.
2. Get back to cooking. Cooking your own food saves a lot of money and reduces the chance of accidental gluten cross-contact. Consider takeout and restaurant eating as special outings rather than a regular habit. Cook big batches of soups and stews and freeze extra portions to help cut down on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. Focus on simple recipes using few ingredients and requiring little prep to make it easier and less time consuming.
Keep everything in perspective.
Living on a gluten-free diet often comes with a high price tag—but it’s a good idea to look at the bigger picture. “Sometimes we have to spend more now to buy foods that help us heal and contribute to our wellbeing so this way we don’t have to pay in the future in the way of hospital visits, prescription drugs and illness-care,” says Levine Finke.
Other tips for keeping the cost down:
- Keep gluten-free breads in the freezer and take slices out to use on an “as needs” basis.
- Base dishes around naturally gluten-free foods vs processed gluten-free alternatives.
- Batch cook and bulk out! Use beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables to make dishes nutritious and delicious, bulking them out last longer.
- Plan ahead and stick to your shopping list!
- Take advantage of offers and supermarket deals.
GF products were more expensive in 2019 (overall 183%), and in all regions and venues (p < 0.001). GF products from mass-market producers were 139% more expensive than the wheat-based version of the same product. Availability of GF products was greatest (66%) in the health food and upscale venues. In contrast to the results of the 2006 study, the cost of GF products has declined from 240% to 183% (adjusted for inflation).
.3. Differences by Venue
The price of GF foods differed by venue. Interestingly, the least expensive venue for GF foods was the traditional grocery store and the most expensive was online.
Interestingly, in the study conducted in 2006 , the differences in cost by venue varied from the current study. In the study conducted in 2006, the upscale market was the least expensive venue for GF products, in contrast to the 2016 data where it was the most expensive.
In the current study, the traditional grocery store was the least expensive compared to being the second most expensive in the study conducted in 2006. In both studies, the online venue remains the most expensive for GF products.
in USA however
6. Conclusions The cost GF products, while declining over the past 10 years, remains significantly higher than their wheat-based counterparts. The introduction of mass-market production of GF products has impacted both the cost and availability by venue. While the shift in availability by venue, with increased availability of GF products in the traditional grocery store, is a positive development in the marketplace, it is insufficient to offset the overall economic burden of the GFD. The entrance of mass-market brands into the production of GF products fosters a perception that the GFD has increased availability and ease. However, our findings indicate that cost and availability continue to be a burden for individuals requiring GF products
Tips for Affording Gluten-Free Foods
- Stick to naturally gluten-free foods, which tend to be more affordable than gluten-free alternatives
- Beans, rice, fruits, vegetables (including potatoes), and eggs are all naturally gluten-free. Canned beans are affordable, fast and easy to add to soups, stews and salads
- When seasonal produce is in large supply, it will be less expensive than other times of the year
- Extra tip: buy frozen veggies, which don’t spoil as quickly
- Watch out for sales and buy in bulk
- If you’re able, get a Costco or other wholesale club membership (often $60 a year cost but offers savings, especially if you have a large family)
- Shop at discount stores like Aldi, TJ Maxx, Walmart, and Big Lots. They often have a variety of more affordable gluten-free options.
- Amazon has a number of gluten-free products available at lower prices than many traditional grocery stores (shop Amazon through our gluten-free store, purchases made benefit Beyond Celiac and our mission to accelerate celiac disease research)
- Use coupons (see below!)
- Consider joining a clinical trial for celiac disease, many will offer payment along with travel expenses that can help supplement income
- Let your doctor know you’re having trouble affording the diet, they may be able to connect you with resources
- Casseroles (like chicken, rice, onion, and peas), soups and stews are great ways to stretch your food items! (Try this chicken stew.)
- Join your local Buy Nothing Facebook group, many are willing to help with food, especially for families!
- You may be eligible for end-of-year tax deductions
Gluten-free cereal is a great example of this: Multiple gluten-free cold cereals and gluten-free kids' cereals actually are products of mainstream brands and carry mainstream price tags. Your gluten-free options include several General Mills' Chex cereals, such as Post Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles.
Check out your potato chip and corn chip selections, too—plenty of brands, including some really mainstream ones like Frito-Lay, are offering gluten-free potato chips and gluten-free tortilla chips. I've also seen gluten-free crackers (usually rice crackers) in the "mainstream" section of the supermarket, for a reasonable price.
If you crave a sweet snack, there's plenty of mainstream gluten-free candy available, too.
Some yogurt brands have begun to sport gluten-free labels (make sure to check ingredients carefully, since not all yogurts are safe), and other foods, such as some prepared rice mixes, also are marked "gluten-free." Most of these will be less-expensive alternatives to specialty gluten-free food products, such as breads, cookies, and frozen foods.
By buying only "mainstream" brands and avoiding gluten-free specialty products as much as possible, you potentially can save as much as 30 percent to 50 percent every time you buy those types of products.
Buy your meat in bulk if possible. You'll often find good deals on beef when you purchase in large quantities and cut it into smaller pieces. If you prefer grass-fed beef (or free-range chicken and pork), invest in a freezer and talk to farmers directly about buying in bulk—1/4 or 1/2 of a cow at a time.
Beans and rice should be naturally gluten-free—just watch out for "shared equipment," "may contain," and "shared facilities" warnings on the package, since gluten cross-contamination in packaging still can be an issue. Dairy section products, such as eggs, milk, and cheese, are almost always okay.
Shop Farmers' Markets and Farm Stands Your wallet may cringe at the price of produce at the supermarket, especially in the middle of winter. But this is where some time spent planning ahead really pays off. You can shop farmers' markets and farm stands in season to buy naturally gluten-free produce in bulk. With careful planning, it will last through the winter until the next growing season.
If you're particularly sensitive to gluten cross-contamination, the chance of problems with farm stand products is far lower than the chance of problems with supermarket produce. And the quality you'll find at your local farm stand is far superior to what you'll find at the supermarket.
Be careful of your storage methods when you buy farm stand produce. For example, regular potatoes will begin to sprout quickly, but you can keep boxes of them for several months if you keep them in a cool climate.
Also, farm stand squash isn't usually coated with wax to keep it fresh longer. So you may need to use it sooner. Pumpkins are a bargain if you buy them right after Halloween—you can dry the seeds for trail mix and use the flesh for all kinds of recipes.
Greens are incredibly cheap at the farmers' market, too—kale, mustard greens and collards are 75 cents a (generous) pound in season. Wash the greens and freeze them in large zip-lock baggies (no need to blanch them or otherwise process them), and pull them out when you need them.
It's certainly possible to find overpriced produce at farmers' markets—some of the particularly trendy organic farms place a pretty high premium on their goods. But you should be able to find vendors with very reasonably-priced fruits and vegetables if you look around.
Buy Gluten-Free Grains In Bulk Have you checked out the price of gluten-free flours? You're looking at between $3 and $5 a pound—ouch! Mixes are even worse. There's no way to keep to a budget with those kinds of prices. So what can you do?
It's a lot of work, but you can consider purchasing gluten-free grains in bulk packages and making your own gluten-free flour blends. By doing this, you can reduce the price of your gluten-free flour to about $1 a pound—a 75 percent discount.
You can find large bags of rice at warehouse clubs or at Asian markets for less than 50 cents a pound (sometimes a lot less). Twin Valley Mills sells a 30-pound bucket of whole grain sorghum for $15 plus shipping. And you can purchase a 25-pound bag of Ancient Harvest quinoa for about $3 a pound, including shipping.
Safety TipNever purchase grains (or anything else) from the bulk bins at the supermarket or health food store. The bulk bins are a leading source of cross-contamination.
At bulk bins, people switch the scoops from bin to bin, and the stores don't always clean them thoroughly—you could wind up buying rice from a bin that previously held wheat.
Once you've got your bulk grains, you'll obviously need some way to grind them. If you're not grinding much grain at a time, you can use a coffee grinder—just be aware that these will burn out after a couple of months (or sometimes less) of regular grain-grinding.
You also can use a grain-grinding attachment on a high-end blender or mixer, or a stand-alone grain grinder. If you choose any of those options, your up-front investment will be at least $100 for the grinding attachment, or $300 and up for the appliance itself.
Combine your grains using a gluten-free flour blend recipe. You'll spend some money on the necessary gums for the flour blend (gluten-free guar gum is about $16 a pound), but those ingredients last a long time, and you only need a tiny bit for each pound of gluten-free flour.
Make Your Own Gluten-Free Ingredients When you're doing a lot of cooking and baking, the cost of specialty ingredients—things like vanilla sugar or herb-infused oil—adds up quickly. In addition, it can be difficult to find gluten-free versions of every type of specialty ingredient you might need... especially if your grocery store options are limited.
It's nice to know how to make some of these ingredients for yourself—and you can save significant money doing so. Making mayonnaise, for example, is not as hard as it seems.
While it may seem daunting to try some of these, many of them are pretty easy to make, and they really do taste better than the store-bought versions.
Also, if you can't have some ingredients in store-bought products (if, for example, distilled vinegar is a problem for you), you can use these recipes with safe ingredients you source yourself to make versions of those store-bought products that you can enjoy without getting sick.
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These days, clients generally are hard pressed not to find a gluten-free food section in their local supermarket. With 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity, it’s no surprise that food companies are cashing in on the skyrocketing demand for gluten-free foods. In 2010, gluten-free product sales reached more than $2.6 billion and are projected to exceed $5 billion by 2015, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
Food and nutrition strategic consultant Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, CDN, says there are some notable factors contributing to the rising gluten-free trend. “No. 1 is that there’s definitely an increased awareness of celiac disease [and] gluten sensitivity,” says the founder of The Gluten Free RD blog. “And for better or worse, [there are many] celebrities who are endorsing it as a weight-loss diet and athletes endorsing it as a peak-performance diet” despite the fact there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Gluten Free for a Steep Price
For the average person with celiac disease, buying specialty gluten-free products can come at a steep price since many cost much more than their gluten-containing counterparts. Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, LD, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy), has experienced this problem, as she has celiac disease. “If you think about it, in the past, wheat has been subsidized by the federal government,” and since gluten-free products aren’t made with wheat, they’re more expensive, she says.
The other component is supply and demand. “Clearly, the gluten-free market is growing, but it’s not as large as the regular market,” says Sandquist, who opened a specialty gluten-free store in 2005.
Genevieve Sherrow, MS, RD, LDN, author of the Gluten Free Warrior cookbook, attributes the high cost of gluten-free products to their specialty ingredients. “[Gluten-free products] often are made with ingredients that are more costly, [such as] brown rice flour, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat,” she says. “They [also] may be using special sweeteners, such as agave, coconut sugar, or honey.”
Price gouging also may be a factor, says Nicole Hunn, author of the Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog and several gluten-free cookbooks. “To a certain extent, [gluten-free products] probably have to be a bit more expensive, [but] I think there’s a lot of price gouging and taking advantage,” she says. On the other hand, “Most of the companies are just small players, [and] they don’t have economies of scale, [which is] reflected in the price.”
Avoiding Breaking the Bank
The good news for clients following a gluten-free diet is that it’s possible to do so without breaking the bank. With a little planning, anyone can attain a healthful budget-conscious diet. Below are nine tips dietitians can share with clients to help them save money when eating gluten free:
1. Stick to cheaper gluten-free carbohydrates. According to Begun, when it comes to purchasing gluten-free foods, it’s the type of grains they contain that are the main cause for concern. These days, ancient grains are all the rage, but there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the more basic options such as corn, rice, and gluten-free oats, which are cheaper.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Begun says, “quinoa, millet, and buckwheat are excellent, and it’s certainly great when products contain them, but those products might be more expensive.”
2. Choose naturally gluten-free foods. The truth is the healthiest foods clients can eat contain no gluten. “The best way to save money on a gluten-free diet is to avoid buying as many packaged gluten-free products as possible and buy naturally gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, tofu, nuts, beans and other legumes, eggs, low-fat dairy, and lean meats,” says Marie Keogh, MPH, RD, CDN, a clinical nutrition manager at Sodexo who follows a gluten-free diet.
3. Don an apron. When it comes to cookies and breads, clients will save money if they make their own. “Once you get a sense of how much you can do at home, it gives you the chance to resist the impulse buys,” Hunn says.
While most people are intimidated by baking, Hunn recommends encouraging clients to start with a regular drop-cookie recipe, which is foolproof.
And contrary to what many believe, gluten-free products aren’t harder to make. “It’s just that there’s a steep learning curve in the beginning,” Sandquist says. “It gets easier.”
4. Become friends with your freezer. Recommend clients make extra batches of gluten-free meals and snacks, and freeze them for a later time. Frozen gluten-free products, such as cookies, can last up to a couple of months as long as they’re stored in an airtight container. For gluten-free bread, suggest clients slice the loaf before freezing. That way, they won’t have to defrost the entire loaf if they just want to eat one or two slices at a time. If clients have bread with a high moisture content, they can place sheets of wax paper between each slice, Sandquist says.
5. Buy in bulk. Suggest patients buy gluten-free specialty foods in bulk. “[And] take advantage of sales and coupons,” Sandquist says. Many of the gluten-free product manufacturers have coupons, so recommend clients search online and peruse supermarket circulars for weekly specials, she adds.
Begun also agrees with buying in bulk but cautions against shopping in bulk bins because they may be contaminated with gluten-containing product residue.
6. Make gluten free a family affair. If there’s one person in a household who must eat gluten-free foods, recommend clients buy and prepare gluten-free meals the entire family will like. “This way you can avoid the additional cost of buying gluten-free purchases and regular products,” Begun says.
Having the entire family convert to gluten-free eating also will improve morale. “In my experience, [individuals who can’t eat gluten] just want to be and feel normal,” says Hunn, who has a son with celiac disease. “They want to be able to sit down at the table with their family and not feel like they have drawn a short straw at dinner.”
7. Shop around for the best prices. While the majority of gluten-free products can be pricey, there are some brands that offer cheaper alternatives. For example, pasta lovers can buy Trader Joe’s store brand. “Trader Joe’s has by far the cheapest organic brown rice gluten-free pasta at $1.99 for 16 oz,” Keogh says. “And it tastes delicious.”
It’s important that shoppers look at the price per ounce when making purchases to determine which products offer the best value. Other supermarket chains, such as Meijer and ALDI, offer store-brand gluten-free items for lower prices, says Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, RD, LDN, CDE, of the American Diabetes Association, who recently coauthored Gluten-Free Recipes for People With Diabetes. Clients can even find gluten-free snack foods at discounted prices at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
8. Create easy one-pot meals. Instead of clients making complicated gluten-free meals every night, recommend they keep it simple. Clients with a busy schedule and who are on a budget can benefit from spending a day or two making simple, gluten-free dishes they can eat throughout the entire week. “Doing things like preparing large amounts of food in advance and eating one meal over a series of days [is a way to save money],” Sherrow says. One-pot meals such as a soup, chili, or stew are all good suggestions.
9. Find deals on the Internet. “There are a few places that you can purchase gluten-free products online and experience savings,” Begun says. For example, Amazon.com sells everything from gluten-free crackers to pancake mixes to toaster pastries. Another good option is GlutenFreeMall.com, which has a specials section that offers reduced-priced gluten-free products. Online food retailer Vitacost.com also has a special gluten-free products section that includes many sale items, and GlutenFreeDeals.com regularly offers discounts.
— Jessica Jones, MS, RD, is a nutrition communications specialist and the cohost of Food Heaven Made Easy, a weekly Web series that demonstrates how to prepare nutrient-dense, delicious, and budget-friendly plant-based recipes while providing scientifically sound nutrition information.
1. Use cash Determine how much you have for your grocery budget and take that amount from your account in cash. This is the most important step in learning to keep your grocery budget under control because you are guaranteed to not exceed a set amount. You will also be forced to pay attention to prices. Your budget will be key in the next step, making a monthly meal plan. When you shop, bring a calculator to prevent overspending. If your running total starts to exceed the budgeted amount, decide what you can do without that week.
2. Plan meals monthlyPlanning a month in advance will help you use your groceries efficiently by reducing both waste and expensive dashes to the supermarket for last-minute items. Create a spreadsheet detailing all meals and snacks, and base them on fresh, whole foods that don’t have the gluten-free mark-up of packaged products. Put a copy of your meal plan for each week where you can see it. This will keep you on track and is especially helpful in reminding you what needs to be defrosted for dinner.
3. Make a listWithout a grocery shopping list you will buy more than you need, so make a list based on your meal plan and stick to it. Aim to go shopping only once a week. The more often you go to the store, the more you will spend. If possible don’t bring the kids because having them along will always bring up the cost of groceries. When I was a single parent, I discovered it was less expensive for me to use an online grocery service for a $9 delivery fee than it was to bring my daughter to the supermarket due to impromptu purchases.
6. Save scraps Keep the cut-off ends of your vegetables and place them in a zipper-top freezer bag. When it is full, fill your stock pot up with water, place the veggies in it, and begin a broth. Broccoli doesn’t work well in stocks, but it can be stored separately and used to make stews and soups such as cream of broccoli. Meat scraps other than chicken can also be used to make broth. And bone broth is popular now. Allow the broth to simmer on the back burner or in your slow cooker, skimming off the fat as it cooks down. Freeze the broth to use as a quick way to add flavor to your meals. If you can’t finish a glass of wine or have only a tablespoon of tomato paste left in the can, freeze it in an ice cube tray. These little cubes of leftovers add flavor to stews, stocks and dinner dishes.
7. Shop your own kitchen Once a month inventory what you have on hand and go to supercook.com. Click on “Restrictions” and highlight the “gluten” button, then enter the items you have in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. You’ll get a list of recipes you can make based on what you already have, plus recipes that need only an additional ingredient. This is an efficient way to reduce food waste and save money. If you save a little each month, you can put that part of your food budget toward groceries for birthdays, holidays and other special events. We’re all trying to save money on groceries. The gluten-free diet can make it a little more challenging, but it’s possible if you follow these simple steps.
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Back to basics Fill your pantry with foods that are naturally free from gluten, and base your meals around them. Rice, legumes and potatoes are all budget-friendly and come in many varieties, so you’ll never get bored. Similarly, fruit, vegetables, meat and sh are gluten-free, and if you shop seasonally and look for mark-downs, you can get them cheaper (choose generic brands when available).
Make your own Buying gluten-free bread every week will drive up the cost of your shopping bill. Instead of forking out for an expensive gluten-free sourdough loaf, why not try making it yourself? The same goes for pizza dough, pasta, muesli bars, biscuits and cakes. Need some inspiration? Try a few of our favourite gluten-free recipes here. => αρτο παρασκευεαστη
Swap and save Gluten-free versions of regular items can sometimes be double the price, so source cheaper alternatives where you can. For example, rather than using gluten-free breadcrumbs for schnitzel, try crushed plain corn tortilla chips or make your own crumb mixture using almond meal, thyme, parmesan and chopped almonds. Vegie noodles are a great replacement for pasta, and top your savoury pies with mashed potato instead of bought gluten-free pastry.
Snack smart Prepackaged gluten-free snacks from supermarkets are both highly processed and highly priced! Avoid getting caught out by preparing your own snacks at home. Trail mixes with nuts, seeds and dried fruit travel well, as does popcorn. Or pack some cheese cubes and hummus, and eat with vegie sticks and rice crackers.