Gluten-free diets can be overwhelming, and sometimes the cost of a favorite item can give quite the sticker shock. My goal is to give you every tip, trick, and cheat that I can possibly think of to make your life a little easier - and affordable.
One of the biggest cost-effective measures that I do is menu planning. I have a giant menu of tons of stuff that I could make. But I pick and choose a selection from that that makes the most sense, makes use of what I already have in my pantry/fridge/freezer, and that honestly fits the budget. Some weeks, you'll see a lot of rice dishes and Italian dishes because they're super cheap, filling, and I can do a million things with the leftovers. Example: if I make teriyaki chicken one evening, I'm guaranteed to have leftover rice. I can use that rice to make chicken divan, fried rice for lunch, or add it to a soup. If I make a pasta dish, I inevitably have leftover spaghetti sauce. That either becomes pizza sauce (if there's no meat in it) or I'll freeze it and use it when I make lasagna, so I don't have to make a double batch of something.
The second most cost-effective measure is going to multiple stores. This can be seriously tedious; especially with children in tow. But seriously, going to at least two (sometimes three) stores saves me about $25 per week. For me, that's several meals.
The third thing, which can be common sense, is buying healthy items in bulk. We don't keep junk food in the house. We keep plenty of snack food: gluten-free pretzel sticks, veggie straws, apples, and tortilla chips. But we usually get those in either small bags at Aldi, or large bags at Sam's Club. Either way, it works. The other thing we get in bulk is frozen vegetables. Sam's Club has several selections of steamable, family-sized packages of frozen broccoli, vegetable mixes, etc. that are organic and non-GMO. While not the same as fresh produce, it's a great cost-effective option that keeps the veggies in dinner, while not breaking the bank.
So, make a list. Make a HUGE list of everything that you'd want to make forever. Then, depending on your schedule, finances, pay periods, etc., you know how many things that you need to have. Something to consider: the night before you go grocery shopping, have a CORN night. CORN means Clean Out Refrigerator Night. If it's not eaten, it's tossed or frozen. Add at least one CORN night to your schedule - or plan on using leftovers for lunches the next day. It keeps the fridge from becoming a Ziploc graveyard of things that are never used.
Here is my list.
DISCLAIMER: Please know, any time it says "pasta" it's meant to say "gluten-free" pasta. Most of the menu items include a basic item list also - so I know what I need to make that dish. I will edit and revise and edit and revise as necessary.
Please leave feedback if you have a question!!
Off the Grill
· Filet Mignon: steak marinated in red wine and herb seasoning, with mashed potatoes, veggies
· Shish kabobs: steak and chicken marinated in teriyaki or jerk seasoning, onions, squash, zucchini, with mashed potatoes or rice
· Grilled Chicken: marinated in herb seasoning, usually served with spinach salad and baked potato
· Hamburgers: ground beef with garlic and seasonings, with sliced cheese, with sweet potato fries and spinach salad.
· Bratwurst: boiled, then grilled to sear. Served with spinach salad and sweet potato fries.
· Barbeque Chicken: Chicken, barbeque sauce.
· Ribs: beef ribs marinated in bbq sauce, slow cooked
· Ginger Teriyaki Chicken: Brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic on chicken breast. Served with jasmine rice and broccoli
· Bourbon Glazed Chicken: Bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Aminos, balsamic vinegar
· Fajitas: chicken marinated in Caribbean jerk seasoning, with flour tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheese, spinach, and guacamole.
· Tacos: ground beef and taco seasoning, with flour tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheese, spinach, and guacamole.
· Quesadillas: shredded chicken and cheese (or spinach, or black beans, or taco meat) in gf tortillas.
· Enchiladas: canned chicken, Velveeta, gluten-free cream of mushroom soup, taco seasoning, gf tortillas
· Spanish Rice: Jasmine rice (or any rice) chicken broth, salsa, cumin.
· Black Bean Dip: Black beans, mild salsa, cumin, salt.
· Spaghetti with Meat Sauce: served with fresh pasta and organic tomato sauce, and spinach salad.
· Chicken Alfredo: Grilled chicken marinated in herb seasoning, with gf pasta, and homemade Alfredo sauce. Served with steamed broccoli, or salad.
· Chicken Di’avolo: Grilled chicken marinated in herb seasoning w/balsamic vinaigrette, served with fresh pasta, a slightly spicier tomato sauce, and fresh green beans
· Chicken Marsala: Grilled chicken marinated in white wine and garlic, sautéed with artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and garlic in olive oil. Served over gluten free pasta
· Homemade Pizza: pizza crusts, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, spinach, bacon, tomatoes, whatever.
· Chicken Parmesan: Chicken breaded and sautéed in olive oil and garlic. Served with tomato sauce and fresh pasta.
· Eggplant Rolitini: roasted eggplant with garlic and rosemary, served with either rice or spaghetti and marinara
· Lasagna: GF lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, ground beef, spaghetti sauce, eggs.
· Italian Sausage Bake: Bratwurst sliced and sautéed with basil and oregano, cooked with spaghetti sauce, poured over (already cooked) penne pasta, and baked with a covering of Italian cheese.
· Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli: Jasmine rice, Liquid Aminos, frozen (or fresh) broccoli, chicken breast.
· Chicken fingers: chicken breaded with gf flour/onion mix, mashed potatoes and usually steamed carrots
· Potato Soup: potatoes, broccoli, cheese, bacon, milk, chives
· Chili: ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili seasoning
· Chicken Soup: canned chicken, corn, carrots, rice, celery
· Beef Stew: stew meat, Worchester sauce, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions
· Homemade Mac and Cheese: Quinoa pasta, shredded cheese, butter, creamed cheese, milk
· Bangers and Mash: Bratwurst boiled in a bit of beef broth and rosemary, then sautéed until browned. Served with mashed potatoes.
· BLT’s: Bacon, spinach, tomatoes. Usually with salad.
· Jambalaya: Beef smoked sausage, chicken breast, and jambalaya seasoning from Aldi.
· Chicken Divan: Canned chicken, frozen broccoli, gf (or homemade) cream of broccoli (or chicken) cheddar cheese, pre-cooked rice. Can also add a touch of mayo.