I’ve been eating gluten free for about 4 years. I’m not celiac or allergic, but for me eating gluten free causes extreme fatigue and chronic joint pain. I’m talking sleeping all night, waking up exhausted and in so much pain I’m nauseous, barely staying awake until 1 in the afternoon, sleeping until 5 or 6, spending the evening groggy, and crashing out again by 9. I could barely function and had no life.
After doing some research, I learned that gluten could be causing or at least contributing to my symptoms. I also knew that buying specialty “gluten free” products would be expensive. Gluten free bread costs $5 a loaf or more, and gluten free cookies can cost $4 or more per package. As we try to keep our expenses low, I wanted to find a way to eat healthy for me but not spend an arm and a leg doing it. So today I’m sharing some of the gluten free items I keep on hand that won’t explode your grocery budget.Eating gluten free doesn't have to be expensive.Click To Tweet
Gluten Free Pantry Essentials
- Rice. You can use rice in place of noodles in many dishes. It also makes a great side for many meals. Rice is also cheap to buy. I usually spend about $15 for a 50 pound bag.
- Spaghetti squash or gluten free noodles. Spaghetti squash is the best! It’s easy to make and can be used anywhere you would use noodles. I don’t buy a lot of “gluten free” items, but noodles generally cost about $2 a box. Plus my husband prefers noodles to squash or rice, so it keeps him happy.
- Quinoa. This grain is super good for you. I like to use it in place of noodles for pasta salad. I also mix it with chickpeas, cranberries, and mayonnaise for a yummy lunch salad.
- Lettuce leaves. One of the aspects of gluten free eating that was hard for me was lunches. I love salad, but not every day for lunch. The larger leaves of romaine or iceberg lettuce make excellent wrap sandwiches. Fill with ham and cheese, tuna salad, chicken salad, or whatever sandwich fixings make you happy. Then simply roll up. You can keep them closed with a toothpick so they don’t come unrolled in your lunch box.
- Gluten free flour blend. Okay, this is one item I will spend a little extra on. I like this one. I prefer to get the kind that’s ready for baking. Not all gluten free flours are a straight up substitute for regular flour. Though it does cost a little, it’s still less than buying gluten free baked goods. Plus I can control exactly what goes into my baked goods.
- Healthy snacks. Snacks are a little tough when you can’t eat gluten. Pretzels, crackers, and many other foods are out. Chips can be okay as long as you check the ingredients, and so can some candies, but they’re not the healthiest choice. I like to keep items like apples, fresh berries, organic baby carrots, bell pepper slices, celery sticks, string cheese or cheese slices, and hummus on hand, just to name a few. They’re much healthier choices anyway, and if you look for fresh items that are in season, you’ll spend less.
- Rice cakes. This is another great snack idea. I’ve also put peanut butter and jelly on rice cakes. It’s close to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the expensive bread!
- Corn tortillas. I use them for tacos, fajitas, in enchiladas, or anywhere you would normally use a flour tortilla. (Speaking of which, check out these amazing sour cream enchiladas!)
- Instant oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great way to add a little extra protein to your morning smoothie. I also use instant oats in my loaded breakfast bars. And of course, oatmeal is a classic for breakfast.
- Cheerios. Honey nut cheerios are my favorite breakfast cereal. They also go into my breakfast bars. Plus I don’t like to cook when my husband’s working, so sometimes I’ll sneak a bowl for dinner. I know, it sounds lazy. But hey, I’m a busy person and I hate to cook for just myself.
What gluten free items do you keep on hand? Let us know in the comments below! Then read more: