This is a bit of a different post for me. But I promise it does have a little to do with travel! In order to save even a little money for travel on an entry-level salary, I’ve had to take a lot of care to live well within my means. Eating Gluten Free is notoriously expensive. Even just getting different bread at a restaurant can be an up-charge of $3. Over the past year I’ve become a huge advocate for taking a little time to plan in order to save time (and money!) in the long run. I applied this thinking to my grocery store and eating habits and suddenly things got a lot cheaper, healthier, and less time consuming.
Plan Meals out for a week or 2 in advance
This can take time at the front end, but saves time in the long run and definitely saves money. This way you’ll know how much you need to buy so things don’t go bad, you don’t forget things you want, and you don’t buy a bunch of things you don’t need.
Make a list before you leave for the store
This may seem like the most basic idea in the book, but I cannot tell you the number of times I went to the store without a list and ended up spending way more money on unhealthy things I didn’t need.
I love using printables like this one from Elephant Shoe that combine these 2 steps so I don't miss anything!
Buy Fresh and Basic Ingredients
This might seem counter intuitive, but fresh food is often cheaper in the long run than buying frozen or pre-packaged options, especially with the up-charge on gluten free items. Since I changed to only buying basic ingredients (shredding my own cheese, boiling or grilling my own chicken, or cutting my own fruit), I’ve been able to save money and eat less additives (have you read those labels?!)
Explore Store Brands
A lot of stores are coming out with gluten free items in their store brands. Target’s Simply Balanced line is one of my favorites. Their pasta and crackers are both great and quite a bit cheaper than name brands. Some Simply Balanced items are also available on Amazon!
Go to the cheaper stores first
I always have to make a stop at Whole Foods or another natural food store, but with so many mainstream stores carrying gluten free and organic options now, it would be silly to not take advantage of it. I buy as much as I can at Target and then get what I can’t find there at specialty stores.
Here’s a breakdown of my last 2 weeks of groceries and meals, and how much they cost. You can click here to download a PDF shopping list! (Obviously these prices are just at the stores in my area, so your costs may be different).