Savvy gluten-free food swaps to save money - including the cereal that’s almost £2 cheaper!
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If you're a coeliac, eating well, and cheaply is very possible says newly diagnosed Anna Norman.
One in 100 people are affected by coeliac disease, with a staggering 500,000 people in the UK undiagnosed. I never expected that I'd be one of those affected. The experience, from the diagnosis to the endoscopy, felt surreal. I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact there was something not quite right with me, despite feeling perfectly fine all these years. With all the information I received from the consultant I felt some strange emotions, from guilt, to panic because for however long I was damaging my insides, I was increasing my chances of some awful consequences.
It can be a real hassle eating out gluten-free, because not only do I have to stress how important it is to keep the food completely gluten-free, there is always the thought in my mind, that there is the possibility of some gluten making its way into the meal.
And, despite the health benefits, I found the gluten-free diet significantly more expensive than eating regularly. But I've found it doesn't have to be that way anymore!
I found myself spending all my time in the gluten-free aisle once I was diagnosed, scanning the expensive items, thinking that there was nothing I could eat beyond the shelves of ridiculously priced food. But instead of feeling obliged to buy the branded products, adopt my mix and match approach.
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1) The Pizza Express Gluten Free Margherita pizza is £5.00 at Tesco, but at Morrisons you can save £2.75 by swapping to Isabel's Gluten Free Pizza Base Mix (300g) which is only £2.25 and have all sorts of fun making your own pizza at home.
2) For breakfast, there is no need to be spending £2.18 on Nestle Gluten Free Corn Flakes (500g) which you can find at the majority of leading supermarkets but being 39p richer opting for the cheaper product – Nestle's Gluten free Honey Flakes at Aldi £1.79. Simply swapping shops can save you money.
3) When it comes to snacking, swap your usual Kallo Organic Lightly Salted Wholegrain Low-Fat Rice Cakes to Tesco's own brand Lightly Salted Rice Cakes for 90p, perfect for sweet and savoury toppings.
4) Change your spaghetti to 'Just Free Spaghetti' (99p) from Lidl the next time you plan to make an Italian dish, saving £1.01 if you were to have chosen Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti from Tesco.
5) The all-important bacon sandwich needn't be a pricey affair next time you are having a craving. Tesco's Free From Sliced White Bread at £2.10 is the cheaper alternative to Genius' Sliced White Bread which rakes in at £2.50.
6) Don't fall for the gluten free chocolate advertising, at Tesco you would be spending £2.00 for the free from giant chocolate buttons (119g) when you can simply buy Aldi's giant chocolate buttons for 0.59p.
Tasty gluten-free baking
Despite gluten-free food becoming 'more edible', I still feel a wave of frustration every time I walk into a café and see the beautiful cakes and pastries mocking me, especially as there's usually only a limited range. However, with the help from the gluten-free baking books, I found I could bake some beautiful treats that tasted just like the 'real' thing.
It took me quite a while to master the perfect gluten-free cake. After many trials, and many errors, I found that the best way to avoid a dry bake was to add fruit to the cake, giving it the extra moisture it needed. Here are a few other tips I have picked up on the way:
n Use Xanthan gum or Guar gum which are thickening agents to your bake as it gives the mixture an overall improved texture and rise.
n Gluten-free foods need more leavening, so increase use of baking powder and xanthan gum/guar gum.
n The benefit of gluten-free baking is that you can't over beat the batter. Instead, try beating it for longer to whip as much air into it as possible for a lighter bake.
n Lastly, don't be afraid to experiment! You might be the next Mary Berry of gluten-free baking.