Balancing Life and Food Allergies: The Economic Crunch

Everyone is feeling the pain of a down economy right now.  We’re seeing it everywhere we turn whether it’s from job loss or rising costs of gas, groceries, and so on.  How does one afford to put food on the table when money is tight and grocery prices are rising? What if you throw in the added cost of food allergies? Allergy-specific foods are priced higher and there is no getting around it, or is there?

It absolutely can be done.  How do I know this? I’m doing it!  No, we’re not dealing with joblessness.  We are blessed that my husband brings home an ample salary so that we’re able to meet all of our financial needs.  However, let me tell you something about our home: we live well below our means and always have!  We have to!  Because while we are able to meet all of our obligations, it isn’t always easy.  We have expenses and we make sacrifices, but we believe it is for the good of our family, our school, our church, and the future.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel in today’s post and rewrite most of the things I have discussed in previous posts.  I’ll just direct you to those posts.  As a snippet, here are some basic ways you can balance the financial needs of your life and your food allergies.  I encourage to click on the links to read more about each point.  If you’ve been reading The Willing Cook for any amount of time, you know that my suggestions here are the methods that I use personally to save money at the store.

  • Buy naturally allergy-free foods and skip the prepackaged foods – produce, meat, beans (preferably dried because it is cheaper and healthier), rice
  • Don’t try to buy the allergy-friendly counterpart of traditional foods.  It will most likely be much pricier.  You have to rethink the way you eat.  Either do without or make something similar from scratch.
  • When purchasing produce, stick with in-season varieties.  If you’re able, buy extra and freeze/can it.
  • Meal Plan – I wrote up a case for meal planning last year and the case I made then still holds true today.  I cannot encourage you enough to read that post and to start meal planning.  I share my meal plan every Monday.  Most of the dishes I cook are naturally allergy-friendly.  When possible, I include the link to the recipe.  If you don’t see the link and want the recipe, just ask me and I’ll do my best to share that with you.
  • Shop Manager Specials – Read up on the previous post of how this is a great way to save money on produce, meat, and sometimes on shelf products.
  • Shop Grocery Ads – I rarely buy anything that is not on sale.  I check out all the store ads for our available grocery stores on Sunday and make out my meal plan and grocery list based on the sales.
  • Use Coupons – This original post may not completely represent the state of coupons these days.  The general premise still holds true, though.  A dollar here and a dollar there (without much work) can add up to some savings.
  • Shop Around – Do not limit yourself to a single store, if possible.  Also consider the prices and convenience of shopping online.
  • Prepare your food from scratch – This will cut your costs, help you build confidence and skill in the kitchen, and remain safe with your food allergies.
  • Make your own gluten-free flour with a grain mill or coffee bean grinder.  This has been a very popular post and while some of my homemade flour has changed a little, I still highly encourage you to make your own flour as opposed to buying a high priced prepackaged gluten free flour blend.  These days, my gluten free flours consist of the following: Amazon-brown rice flour; Asian store-white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot flour; coffee bean grinder-millet (buy whole from Whole Foods), oat flour, chia meal flour.
  • Keep a well-stocked pantry and do freezer cooking when possible.  When I see a great deal on a product or only visit a particular store infrequently, I stock up on that product.  When possible, I do freezer cooking-from an entire meal to key ingredients, like onions and peppers.  I also buy large quantities (large can) of tomato sauce, tomato paste, and pumpkin, divide into smaller amounts and freeze.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your shopping routine if it doesn’t seem like your current plan is working out.  Read this post why we’ve adjusted how we shop in recent months.
  • Stretch the food you have out further.  There are so many tips for doing this, including adding beans to dishes, having meat-free meals weekly, making 1 chicken into three meals, and so on.
  • Try Empty Cupboard Cooking like we did recently.  And, learn to like leftovers, especially for lunch.

I think that gives you a lot to chew on when you consider how your food allergies are going to respond to the economic crunch.  You do not have to forgo healthy food, tasty dishes, or allergy-safe meals, nor do you have to dig yourself into debt.  As I always say, be simple and think outside the box.

Are there any tips that you can add when you’re trying to balance life’s economic crunch and food allergies?

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