Gluten Free on a Budget

Eating gluten free is not always easy but when you or a family member have an allergy, intolerance, or celiac disease it a necessity.  Here’s a few tips for anyone else in the same situation as us to help stay on a budget!

-Focus on using naturally gluten free foods.  Keep in mind that most meat and produce are naturally gluten free with the exception of some marinated and deli meats.  Beans and rice are another great naturally gluten free option and they are cheap, especially when bought in bulk.

-Buy local.  Find a farmer’s market or a farmer who will sell to you directly.  Local produce is always cheaper and you’re helping the local economy.  You can usually find beef at a great discount by buying at least ¼ of a cow directly from the farmer.  It may seem like a big investment but it will save you money in the long run.  Buy a whole chicken and cook it all at once.  One of the easiest ways is to use your slow cooker.  Just place the chicken in the slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours and it’s done!  Serve part of it for dinner, shred the rest, and freeze for meals like fajitas, tacos, soup, and so on.

-Make your own gluten free flour mix.  Buying the mixes at the store can get really expensive! You can find many gluten free flour mix recipes online.  One of my favorites is using 2 parts rice flour and 1 part sweet sorghum flour.  Then add xanthan gum or guar gum depending upon what you’re making.  If you’re making bread and pizza dough recipes add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of flour called for in the recipe.  If you’re making a cake, muffins, or quick bread add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup of flour used in the recipe.  If you’re making cookies you do not need to add any xanthum gum or guar gum.

-Make gluten free foods in bulk.  Did you know that pancakes, muffins, breads, cookies, and pizza crust free really well?  Once a month or as often as you like make up a few batches of your favorites from scratch.  Then all you have to do is warm up what is necessary and you’re good to go.

-Use coupons.  If there’s something you really like then use coupons.  Most companies offer coupons on their website or by joining their mailing list.  If you don’t see the option on your favorite companies website send them an email.  Sometimes it’s hard to find the sign up page or they don’t advertise it.  Who knows you may get a good coupon in the mail from them!   

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Camping and Menu Plan Monday 6/18/2012

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We had a fun weekend.  We went camping on Saturday.  It was supposed to be only a 30% chance of sporadic showers.  We could handle that.  No biggy.  When we went to sleep that night there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so we decided to leave the cover tarp thing off and have open windows.  That may have been a small mistake.  At about 5:00 am on Sunday morning I felt rain come pouring on my head.  I jumped up yelling, “Rain! Rain! Get the cover!”  Which I am sure scared poor Scott and the boys to death because they were all still sleeping right through the rain.  Seriously, if I weren’t there they would probably have not woke up until they were floating.  You’ll be happy to know we got the cover tarp thing on and everyone, except me, fell back asleep.  I ended up waking up getting up and taking a nice warm shower, alone with no children pounding on the door (score!).

However, my excitement soon turned as I realized I had forgotten to pack my own clean under clothes!  Oh, I remembered for everyone else and forgot mine.  I could not put on dirty ones.  Yuck!  What to do?  Well, what any desperate ingenious resourceful woman would obviously do, wash them by hand in the shower and used the hand dryer to dry them.  I just have to say praise the Lord no one came in while I was standing around in my towel washing and drying my undergarments.  It may have been a tad bit embarrassing.  After that little fiasco, we went to Scott’s Grandparents’ house to visit.  Nothing overly exciting happened there, which I was grateful for because I had enough for the day.

Scott and I have decided to embark our family on eating better.  As most of you know we already eat mostly organic, but that does not mean healthy!  First on our list is cutting out soda.  We are also cutting out on bad carbs/lowering carbs and I am taking out gluten for me again.  I just feel horrible since eating it again and don’t feel it’s worth four more weeks of this to get the celiac test.  I know it bothers me so I just need to stay away no matter if it is just a sensitivity or celiac.  Another positive of not being testing is it will not be on my medical record.

And without further ado, the meal plan for this week (we have a lot of chicken in the freezer, as you’ll see):

 

Monday:  Chicken Stir Fry using Brown Rice

Tuesday:  Chicken Tacos

Wednesday:  Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans Thursday: 

Friday:  “Breaded” Chicken Tenders and Veggies

Saturday:  Grilled Chicken and Veggies

Sunday:  Chicken Alfredo for Lot Family

 

I am in need of lower carb lunch ideas.  The obvious choice is salads, but I want more variety.  Do you have any suggestions?

Monday Meal Plan 6/11/2012

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Yes, I know it’s Tuesday.  I’m a day late posting this.  I wish I had some great reason as to why I didn’t post it yesterday, but I don’t.  I forgot.

I have been trying to eat gluten because I have a doctor appointment in early July.  I was hoping he could do the blood test for celiac (I have never been formally diagnosed), but I just don’t think I will make it.  I got a cold a few weeks ago and it took FOREVER to get rid of it.  I am also starting to feel the effects of eating it I had before going GF like constant bloating, emotional instability, and achy joints just to name a few.  I plan to call the doctor today to see if he can do the test sooner so I can go back to eating GF.  If he cannot I will probably just forget being diagnosed formally and listen to my body.

So far this week we have spent $40.70 on our Connie’s organic produce delivery and $27.00 (technically $26.00 and some change) at Trader Joe’s.

Now, onto this week’s meal plan!

Monday:  Out

Tuesday:  Chicken Stir-fry

Wednesday:  Chili (odd summer food, I know, but it was a special request by my hubs.)

Thursday:  Chicken Tacos

Friday:   Mrs. Leepers GF Lasagna (We bought this at Dierburgs to try.  It was on the sale it quick rack for $0.99.)

Saturday:  Ravioli

Sunday:  Sandwiches

I will be using this recipe for the ravioli, which includes tapioca starch.  Can I use corn starch in place of tapioca starch?

Help! We bought a dehydrator.

I need your advise!  We found a food dehydrator at the local thrift store for $8.00 (yes, only $8.00!).  We’ve been wanting one, but couldn’t bring it to myself to pay $60.00+ for a good one.  Well, now that we have one I find that I know nothing about them or what to do with them.  I am in need of some recipes or ideas. What have you dehydrated and had good luck with?  Anything you had horrible luck with you want to warn me about?  Any recipes you’d like to share? 

Monday Meal Plan 6/4/2012

So, I guess maybe you think I’m a little indecisive.  Wasn’t the meal plans just on Tuesdays?  Here’s why it’s changing.  I was looking for a picture or another blog to link to for “Tasty Tuesdays”.  Well, please take my advice and do not Google “Tasty Tuesday”.  It comes up with some pretty perverted stuff even with the SafeSearch on strict!  Because of that I am changing it to Mondays.  I don’t want to be in any way associated (or even someone thinking I maybe!) with that stuff.  So, from now on we’ll be safe and have Meal Plan Monday, which I’ll link to Organized Junkie.

We typically only have $75.00 a week to spend, however, we had some overtime on this last check so we had a little more.  I bought some extra meat and milk from the farm with it.  I spent $107.02 at Trader Joe’s, about $15.00 at Dierbergs (I threw away the receipt, oops!), and $26.09 went to Connie’s Green Grocery for our organic produce delivery.  We spent $14.00 at the farm for 4.5 gallons of fresh milk.  If you live in the St. Charles/Wentzville area and are looking for fresh grass fed milk and/or beef check out Lavy Dairy Farm!  The milk is delish and the family is so hospitable!

Monday: Nachos

Tuesday: Chicken legs and a veggie (depends what comes in our Connie’s box for this week!)

Wednesday: Beef stir-fry

Thursday: Crockpot chicken, mashed potatoes, and a veggie (again, depends what we get in our box)

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Graduation party – unknown what we’re making yet.

Sunday: Breakfast at Lot Family, we’ll be bringing a breakfast casserole.

Do you know of a great breakfast casserole recipe? Please share your ideas!  I need your help because I am stumped on what to make.