Sticking to your budget while feeding a family with food allergies or intolerances has gotten easier in recent years as more dietary alternatives land on store shelves, but that doesn’t mean these new products are equally easy on your budget. No, it can be quite pricey to stock the pantry with appropriate foods such as gluten free bread or non-dairy milk – but what else can you do when the differences between traditional staples and specialty foods mean a dramatic difference in physical well-being?
If you’re struggling to keep your family healthy while avoiding supermarket-induced debt, know that it can be done. And though it may take you some time to source coupons and redesign recipes, the outcome will be well worth it.
Focus on the “Yes” Foods
One of the most common reasons that people overspend on allergen-free foods is that, after their diagnosis, they neglect to review what foods remain in their diet. Many parts of your diet may not need to change much at all. Can’t have dairy? Almost everything about your standard breakfast is still fine – switch out the butter on your toast for a non-dairy alternative, or skip the dairy milk in favor of soy or rice milk on your cereal while keeping everything else the same.
Seek Common Foods
If only certain members of your family have food allergies or intolerances, it can be tempting to buy one set of foods for that person, especially since specialty foods can be pricey. In many cases, however, it makes the most sense to make meals everyone can eat – you’ll find that less leftover food gets tossed at the end of the week and that sitting everyone down for a meal is that much less stressful.
If other family members are voicing objections to new, allergy-friendly foods, test out alternatives that might be agreeable for everyone. For example, many people who can’t digest traditional cow dairy do well with products that contain only A2 casein, and for unaffected family members who miss the taste of normal milk, this can be a good compromise. Everyone enjoys the product and no one gets sick.
One of the main hidden costs incurred by those who suffer from food allergies and intolerances is the price of quick snacks or meals grabbed while on the go – if you thought airport snacks were expensive, try buying a gluten-free and dairy-free snack at the terminal. If you make sure to travel with snacks on hand, though, you’ll quickly see the savings add up.
The same goes for the types of snacks we grab to quiet hungry kids when running errands. Make trail mix from ingredients purchased in bulk rather than grabbing a bag at CVS or buy individual snack packs of favorite allergen-free foods and keep them in the car to keep the advanced planning to a minimum.
When you take control of your family’s diet, you’ll quickly find that everyone experiences improved health – even those without allergies. That’s because when we start reading labels and making informed decisions, we make more nutritious decisions. Though it may cost a little bit more, even with coupons or warehouse club discounts, that’s just the cost of better health.