Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gluten Free on the Cheap? I'll Give It A Try

A few weeks ago, I was complaining to one of my girlfriends about how much money I spend every month. And most of that money is spent on groceries, I might add. Next to my mortgage the grocery bill is the biggest one I have. Granted (beware: rationalization ahead), I have five children and we eat nearly every meal at home. It would stand to reason that food should be a big expense. And shopping gluten free isn't necessarily bargain after bargain rolling down those grocery aisles. We celiacs and gluten free eaters just have to belly up to the fact that a bread mix will cost $5.99, and that's about the size of it. However, there is also a tremendous amount of waste in my food bill as well, and I'm not as good as I could be when it comes to leftovers and using up the produce before it spoils. So my girlfriend and I decided to go on a "money diet" to teach ourselves how to live within our means just a little bit better. We allotted each other a certain amount for groceries, gas, and "accidental" expenses (like the new church pants boys need when they "lose" the only pair they have, gifts for friends, school stuff, face cream, etc.) Then we take out that amount of cash each week and only use the cash to pay for stuff. Then we see who has more money left over every week. It is a genius plan, I tell you. So far she has beat the pants off me because she just had twins so she can't go anywhere *unfair advantage* and she only grocery shops every two weeks. She's great at being thrifty and planning cheap, easy meals ahead of time. But even though I haven't ever won I still have only gone over budget one time, and that's because I really had to indulge in a guilty pleasure of buying Prince of Persia on Blu-Ray so I could have a Jake Gyllenhall fix at any moment of my choosing.

I told her how much I spent on groceries a week and she said I ought to be able to do it for around $200 a week. $200? For seven people? You've got to be kidding me. But after almost one month of this little experiment, I'm here to tell you it can be done. I really pay attention to every dollar in my budget, and the trips through the drive through and Wal Mart have been reduced to almost zero. I allow fun in small doses now, not indulgent afternoons of buying food to try that I know will give me gas or in buying toys that, quite frankly, are my version of avoiding conflict with short people.

So, after that lengthy introduction, here's what happened the other day. I was reading a book, don't laugh because it's about money and frugality, two issues I run from when I see them coming, and I really needed some chocolate. I looked into my pantry and found some amaranth flour that was about to expire (reduce, reuse, recycle, right?) and made up some brownies with them. I didn't have any frosting and didn't feel like making any, so I just topped the baked brownies with mini marshmallows and popped them back in the oven for about 5 minutes and what do you know? Ooey gooey chocolate fix with no extra trip to the store. Along with a good feeling of using something before it spoiled and was wasted. I wish I could say that the blog would completely be turned over to frugal gluten free living, but I'm not good enough at it yet to pass on anything completely revolutionary. But I will be chronicling the exciting parts, like buying gluten free things when they're on sale instead of when I have to have some RIGHT NOW. It's a start.Happy eating!

5 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see some of your tips on gluten free frugality. The cost of our groceries is a huge struggle for us and I would love some advice on how to reduce the cost of groceries! There are 6 in our family and two are gluten free but we all pretty much eat gluten free except for bread and cereal.

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  2. We have six in our family and we are about $170 a week on groceries with one celiac in the family. I would love some of your tips. I am like your friend. I only go to the store once every two weeks to avoid the extra money pouring out of your pocket when you go to the store for a gallon of milk and come out spending at least $30 dollars on nothing you planned for.

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  3. so what i want to know is, how was the book?

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  4. Hopefully I'll get some good tips now that I'm paying attention to costs for you all! Nothing like publicly announcing your goals so you can be held accountable, right?

    Mel--the book was great except for the last chapter on retirement. I just wasn't invested in that one. :) But I liked all the rest of it a lot and I learned a lot from it. My tip? Get it at the library! It's free!

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  5. I would totally be grateful for any tips that you have. I'm a young college student and I live on campus (I'm also paying for school too) so it's understandable that I have to be on a food budget because of my lack of money. ;) BUT, I always end up spending so much money on groceries, money that I don't always have!

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