Six months ago, my husband stopped eating gluten. He had recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and read that a gluten-free diet might help ease some of his symptoms.
We switched the way we ate – and shopped – and the effects have been dramatic. In fact, he says that he’s never felt better.
But anyone who has ever eaten a strict gluten-free diet – or any food intolerance, for that matter – will tell you that while it might be better for your health, your bank balance will take a beating.
For instance, a 500g bag of gluten-free penne costs £1.89 at Tesco, compared to 30p for the regular gluten-filled variety. While Hovis 7 Seeds Wholemeal Bread (800G) costs just £1.49 at the supermarket giant, compared to the Multi Seeded Bread (560G) by popular free-from brand, Genius, which sells for £3 a loaf. Ouch.
But having eating a gluten-free diet doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are five ways to cut costs.
- Opt for naturally gluten-free foods
The best way to save money on a gluten-free diet is to avoid buying as many specialist products as possible. There are many popular branded foods that are naturally gluten free, without the hefty price tag – just be careful to carefully read the list of ingredients.
For instance, buying a 460g bottle of Sainsbury’s Basics Tomato Ketchup sells for just 35p, compared to Tiger Tiger Gluten-free Tomato Ketchup (315g), which costs £1 at the supermarket chain.
Other branded goods that do not contain gluten and are significantly cheaper than the “free-from” counterparts include Heinz Beans in Tomato Sauce, Knorr stock cubes and Cart Dor Vanilla ice cream.
- Make your own bread
If you love bread, but hate paying the price for a gluten-free loaf, it makes financial sense to buy a bread maker.
According to consumer group Which?, most bread makers can produce an 800g loaf. If you consider the cost of two loaves of the above-mentioned Genius bread each week, you would pay £312 annually.
We opted for the Panasonic SD-ZB2502BXC Stainless Steel Bread Maker that can be found at retailers such as John Lewis, Amazon.co.uk and Curry’s for £124.
Even with the cost of gluten-free flour the machine should pay for itself in a matter of months.
- Get a diagnosis
If a doctor diagnoses you with coeliac disease, you can receive gluten-free staple foods via prescription from your GP such as bread, breakfast cereals, flour and pasta.
How much food you receive each month is determined by the National Prescribing Guidelines and depends on your age and gender. Units are allocated to the different types of gluten-free staples.
For instance, a man between the ages of 19-59 is entitled to 18 units a month. For one unit, you can get a 400g loaf of gluten-free bread or a 250g bag of pasta.
Bear in mind that in England, prescriptions for gluten-free food are not free of charge unless you qualify for free prescriptions for another reason and will cost £8.20. While those who live in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, these do not pay anything.
However, don’t be put off by the charge for prescription as it is worth paying this fee upfront.
For ease of comparison, consider the cost of the above-mentioned gluten-free bread. This loaf would account for two units, if you used your full monthly entitlement of 18 units on bread alone, you could get as much as £27 worth of bread for just £8.20 – a saving of £45.80 a month, or £225.60 a year.