February 5, 2024   |   Tips, Gluten-Free Living   |   Little Northern Bakehouse

Simply Budget Savvy: Tips and Tricks for Eating Gluten-Free on a Budget

It’s no secret: specialty gluten-free and allergy-friendly ingredients can be on the expensive side. Thankfully, a few simple tips and tricks can help you eat deliciously gluten-free on a budget. And a lot of them start with whole, plant-based, gluten-free foods that are healthy for you—and your pocketbook!

Read our Simply Budget Savvy guide to learn how to:

Turn Simple Ingredients into Satisfying Budget-Friendly Gluten-free Meals

Sure. Some occasions call for a touch of extravagance, and there’s a time and place for all-day recipes with dozens of ingredients. But some of the best dishes in the world are made from a handful of simple ingredients. And everyday gluten-free gourmet doesn’t have to be any different.

Our first tip for whipping up satisfying budget friendly gluten-free meals?

Use What You’ve Got.

Every meal you make doesn’t have to start with a trip to the store. Got a couple slices of gluten-free bread, a half a tomato, some buttery spread, and one last handful of shredded vegan cheese left in your fridge? You have everything you need to make our Easy Gluten-free Caprese Grilled Cheese. Voila! Lunch or dinner for one, no shopping required.

Chances are your kitchen already has ingredients you like. So, rummage through your refrigerator and poke around in your pantry. Stunning sandwiches, quirky toasts, and one-of-a-kind soups await!

And don’t forget your spice rack and sauce stash—dried herbs, spices, or a drizzle, smear, or splash of gluten-free condiments and spreads can transform basic ingredients into a sophisticated dish in seconds!

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Stretch Your Gluten-free Grocery Budget—Stock up on Staples

It’s a lot easier to use what you’ve got with a well-stocked gluten-free pantry. But staples do more than save you a trip to the store. And beans, gluten-free whole grains, and frozen veggies are more than just a budget-friendly base for meals from breakfast to dinner—they’re also satisfying and stuffed with nutrition.

Shop for your favourite staples on sale. Buy in bulk if you have space. Make friends with your freezer. And be ready to make budget savvy gluten-free meals any day of the week.

Buy a Bounty of Budget Savvy Beans.

Canned beans are the key to countless speedy and satisfying gluten-free recipes. Cheap, cheerful, and packed with protein and filling fibre, there’s a lot to love about nutrient dense legumes and pulses. With a humble can of beans and less than 10 ingredients—including the salt and pepper—you can make a hearty lunch or wonderful weeknight dinner in minutes.

Classic bean-based gluten-free budget recipes like our Garlicky Beans on Toast and our Buffalo Chickpea Salad Sandwich come together quick. Just add inexpensive counter or crisper ingredients like garlic and onions, carrots and celery, herbs and spices, and long-lasting staples like tomato paste, broth, hot sauce, or vinegar to a can of beans!

And you can feed a family of four with two cans of chickpeas, a bag of Little Northern Bakehouse Millet & Chia Buns, a handful of spices and fresh but flexible burger toppings on the cheap—all you need is our sunny plant-based Gluten-free Falafel Burger recipe!

We love cost-conscious canned beans for their speed. But when you can make time in your meal plan for the overnight soak, dried beans are even better for your gluten-free grocery budget.

Convert any hummus recipe that calls for canned chickpeas—and make this scrumptious, protein-packed spread even more budget-friendly—with this simple dried bean swap:

For every 398 ml / 14 oz can of chickpeas, use ½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked.

Never cooked dried chickpeas? It’s easier than you think with this simple stovetop method:

  • Soak dried chickpeas overnight (12 hours), drain, and rinse.
  • In a pot with a lid, cover soaked chickpeas with a few inches of water.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, put the lid on, and cook until chickpeas are tender (1 ½ – 2 hours)).

Try cooked dried chickpeas with our savoury Caramelized Garlic and Onion Hummus recipe for a showstopping spread that won’t break the bank. (You can roast the garlic and caramelize the onions while your chickpeas cook!)

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Fill Your Freezer to Waste Less and Eat Healthier, Fast.

More than just a place to make ice and store smoothie supplies, your freezer might be the best budget-saving appliance in your kitchen.

How? Three ways:

1. Freezing foods that have a short shelf life in the fridge or pantry cuts food waste.

First on our list? BREAD! Unless you know you can use the whole loaf or bag of buns or bagels in a week, store your gluten-free baked goods in your freezer. Then you have 6 months to enjoy as you need it!

Freezing also means you never have to let those lonely last slices, single buns, or less-loved bread heels go to waste. Save them until you have enough to make a batch of our Perfect Gluten-free Breadcrumbs or Gluten-free Croutons, and put every premium plant-based crumb to good use!

2. Frozen veggies and fruits help you eat healthy gluten-free meals all year—often for less than fresh.

Picked at its peak and frozen fast, frozen produce is just as flavourful and nutritious as fresh (sometimes more so). And you don’t pay off-season premium prices for greenhouse grown or under-ripe, sub-par produce shipped from far away.

So, you can invite your besties to brunch and brighten a bleak winter weekend with our Gluten-free Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast recipe. (Without overspending on sad, white-in-the-middle strawberries).

Pound for pound, frozen fruit and veggies almost always cost less than fresh. Plus, frozen offers pre-cut convenience, making it faster and easier to make healthy, budget friendly gluten-free meals any day of the week.

3. Make-and-freeze meal prep saves more than time on busy weeknights.

Even if you don’t have space to store ingredients by the caselot, you can still save by buying in bulk and making bigger batches for your freezer.

Many recipes call for a half a package of an ingredient that’s hard to use up and doesn’t store well. (Looking at you, canned tomato paste and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce!). Multiply it so you can use the whole package and freeze the extra portions for a night when you’re tempted to order takeout but it isn’t in your budget.

How can bulk buying help you save even on a smaller scale? Plan make-and-freeze meals when you find a 2-for-1 or 4-for-$X deal on a key ingredient. Or buy the one-size-bigger package of allergy-friendly seeds or gluten-free flours when the per-portion price offers a savings, then split and stash the extra in your freezer.

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Go Further with Gluten-free Grains

Brown rice, gluten-free oats, and pseudograins like quinoa, wild rice, millet, amaranth, teff, and buckwheat deserve their reputation as nutrient dense heroes in any plant-based pantry. But they have a second superpower—stretching your gluten-free budget further!

Stuffed with satisfying fibre and protein, gluten-free whole grains are a budget-friendly base for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Try adding morning millet porridge or a steaming bowl of gluten-free steel cut oatmeal to your breakfast rotation. Turn a bowl of brown rice into a simple lunch with a sprinkle of our allergy-friendly (but no less flavourful!) No Sesame Homemade Vegan Furikake. Turn a side salad into a dinner with a hearty helping of quinoa.

Or pair quinoa with budget-friendly lentils, gluten-free oats, and the breadcrumbs you made from the bread heels you froze to make a comforting Lentil Quinoa Meatloaf with this plant-based spin on a classic recipe.

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Leverage Leftovers for Gluten-free Lunches You (and Your Wallet) Will Love

Not in love with meal repeats? We have good news! You don’t have to give up variety to eat gluten-free on a budget—even when you’re working with last night’s dinner!

Instead, borrow an idea from thrifty crafters: trade the reheat-and-repeat routine and refashion leftovers into something new!

No matter how you warm it, that last scoop of vegan gluten-free mac and cheese is never as good the next day. Unless you stuff it into a Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich! And when the last slice of lasagna is too good to waste, use our Easy Vegan Lasagna Sandwich on Gluten-free Garlic Bread recipe to give it new life!

Once you fall in love with refashioned leftovers, you don’t need to wait for your family’s appetite to ebb before you can unleash your creativity on lunch. Double a recipe for a new reason—to make leftovers on purpose!

(Our Easy Plant-based Gluten-free Chili Dog recipe is one of countless candidates for intentional leftovers. Whether you start with the chili dogs or the chili dinner first is up to you!)

Did our Tips and Tricks for Eating Gluten-Free on a Budget inspire you to fit more gluten-free joy into your grocery budget? Scroll down to sign up for Little Northern Bakehouse emails to get more gluten-free goodness like this in your inbox. And follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, too!