GFCFSF Diet on a Budget


Feeding your family a GFCFSF diet on a budget involves using the same basic strategies you would typically use to reduce food costs to your family. Here are some tried-and-true tips for implementing a healthy, gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free diet that is budget friendly.

Plan Your Menu

Planning a menu will save you money and time.

  • Dedicate 30 minutes weekly to plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list.
  • Purposefully planning meals saves money and helps you purchase the correct ingredients for the week.
  • Do not forget about leftovers. Plan on using them for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
  • If you have a picky eater, 2-4-week cycle menus will ensure your child gets to eat their preferred foods, but also allows you an opportunity to strategically (and slowly) incorporate new foods into their diet.

Skip Specialty Stores

Specialty health food stores often charge more.  Check Costco, Aldi, Trader Joes, Amazon, and your local grocery store chain to see if they offer organic and allergy-friendly varieties of the items on your list for a better price.

  • Compare prices for items on your list before going to the store through a grocery shopping apps like Basket, Flipp, or Grocery King.

Stick to Your Grocery List

Once you’ve made your list, stick to it!  It’s easy to get distracted or tempted at the grocery store. Tips to avoid impulsive purchases:

  • Eat before you shop – Don’t go to the grocery store hungry!
  • Shop without kids (especially if they have meltdowns when they are told something they want is not on the list).
  • Order groceries online for curbside pickup.

Shop the Perimeter of the Store

Shop the perimeter of the store for foods that are naturally gluten, dairy, and soy free.

  • Potatoes, rice, and beans are very budget-friendly sources of starches.
    • Be mindful of items that are packaged in facilities that also package products which contain gluten, especially if they use shared equipment.
  • Don’t forget the nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Pass on Prepared and Pre-Packaged Foods

Prepared foods are expensive. The more food you cook from scratch, the more money you will save.

  • Pre-packaged foods are usually full of preservatives and “junk” that our bodies don’t need.
  • They offer little nutritional value and are usually more expensive.
  • Save money now, and on future healthcare costs, by skipping the junk food and sticking to whole foods.

Shop Sales and Collect Coupons

Stock up on items when they are on sale and check vendor websites for coupons for your favorite allergy-friendly foods.  Be sure to:

  • Avoid processed, junk foods
  • Only stock up and use coupons for items on your list or that you know your family will consume. Using a coupon to purchase an item that will not be consumed is not saving money.

Buy in Bulk

Bulk buy products are often cheaper.

  • Beans, rice, and many gluten-free grains can often be purchased online or in stores for cheaper prices.
  • Buy meat in bulk, freeze it, and defrost when you’re ready to cook it.
  • It is best to avoid purchasing items from the bulk bins at grocery stores as they are often a source of cross-contact.

Pick the Right Price

Store brand items and items sold in bulk aren’t always the better deal. Understanding which price on an item’s price tag to pay attention to will help you save money.  Shelf price tags display two prices:

  • Retail or Shelf Price: the total price you pay at the register for each item.
  • Unit price:  how much each item costs per pound, ounce, quart, etc.

You can save money when you compare the cost of the same food in different sized containers with different brands.  Do this by dividing the shelf price by its weight or volume. 

Become Friends with Your Freezer

Your freezer is a great tool when it comes to healthy eating on a budget:

  • Stock up on items when they are on sale or in season and freeze items that you don’t immediately need for use later on.
  • Check the frozen section for better deals on frozen fruit, vegetables, and meats.
    • Frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice because they are harvested and frozen at the peak of ripeness, when they are most nutrient dense.  

Know When to Buy Organic vs. Conventional

When purchasing organic items, spend the extra money where it counts.

  • Produce
    • Become familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists:
      • Dirty Dozen: items on this list contain the most pesticides, so you may want to consider spending the extra money on organic varieties of these items.
      • Clean 15: items on this list contain the least amount pesticides, so it’s safer to purchase conventional varieties of these produce items.
  • Meat
    • Purchase organic meat to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and animals that were fed grain that was treated with pesticides.

Co-Ops and Farmer’s Markets

Check farmer’s market, local co-ops, and organic box delivery programs in your area to see if their prices are better than what you find at the supermarket.  Do a little research to be sure that what they’re offering you is truly organic. 

Buy in Season

Produce is cheaper when it’s in season because it’s more abundant and doesn’t have to be shipped as far.  Produce that is in season tastes better and is at its peak nutrient level.

Grow Your Own Food

If you have the space and time, grow your own food.  Not only is it cost effective, but it’s a great way to ensure that it’s grown without any pesticides or chemicals.  Plus, eating food shortly after it has been picked, ensures you consume it’s maximum amount of nutrients.
Bonus:  If you can get your kids involved in growing their own food, they are more likely to eat it.


There are many ways to save money when eating a healthy GFCFSF diet. These include planning your meals and making wise decisions at the grocery store.  Shop the perimeter of the store for delicious, whole, nutrient-dense foods.  Avoiding pre-packed and processed foods not only will you save money now, but later on down the line in future healthcare costs.

Further Reading