Gluten-free eating can get expensive. A loaf of gluten-free bread (Rudi’s or Udi’s) generally costs around $4 or $5, and frozen or pre-made meals can reach the double digits. The trick to eating gluten-free on a budget is leaning toward foods that are naturally gluten-free, as opposed to gluten-free substitutes, like starches made with rice or corn flour.
Rice, for instance, is a gluten-free food that is reasonably priced relative to other options. Most veggies and meats are naturally gluten-free, and you can buy them at normal prices without the “gluten-free premium.” Here are a few gluten-free recipes you can make for around $4 per person with regular household ingredients. Pricing data for these meals comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ U.S. average retail food prices table.
1. Breakfast Baked Potatoes
If you’re gluten sensitive, or if you have Celiac’s, baked potatoes may just end up being your best friend. They’re cheap, delicious, and naturally gluten-free, as long as you don’t cross-contaminate. A breakfast baked potato is excellent topped with scrambled eggs and cheese (make sure to read the cheese package because although most cheeses are gluten-free, some contain trace amounts).
As of July, the BLS reports the average price of white potatoes at less than 70 cents per pound. You can purchase a half-dozen eggs and a half of a pound of American cheese for prices of 97 cents and $2.21, respectively. You can easily make breakfast baked potatoes for around $4.
Try this gluten-free breakfast casserole recipe from Carla’s Gluten-Free Recipe Box.
- ½ pound ground gluten-free sausage, casings removed (or couple handfuls of crumbled gluten-free bacon) — to save on cost, remove this ingredient
- 2 pounds (about 4 large) peeled and shredded potatoes (or 1 package gluten-free frozen hash browns)
- 6 large eggs, beaten
- ⅓ -1 cup shredded cheese (your favorite)
- ½ cup yellow onion, chopped finely
- Optional: sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown sausage in an a large pan or skillet (non-oiled); drain fat; allow to drain more on paper towels; set aside. In the same pan or a preheated pan with oil, brown potatoes along with onion, about 10 minutes. Spray oil on a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish. Fold in hashbrowns, onion, sausage, salt, and pepper; sprinkle with additional sausage on the top; pour in raw eggs. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until egg is cooked through.
2. Cheesy Rice Bowl
At an average price of around 75 cents per pound, rice is a go-to base ingredient for those on a gluten-free diet and those on a budget. If you mix in some cheddar cheese (at a cost of $2.78 per half-pound) and a few of your favorite seasoned veggies, you can make a great-tasting rice bowl. If you want something a bit heavier, add some chicken (at an average price of $1.55 per pound for bone-in chicken legs).
Try making your rice a bit more exciting with this Minute Rice recipe that received 4 out of 5 stars from 8 members.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups Minute White Rice, uncooked
- 8 slices of American cheese (check the package for trace amount of gluten)
Directions: Bring water to boil. Stir in rice and cheese slices. Cook and stir until cheese is melted; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir. To jazz it up with a vegetable side dish, add cooked carrot slices, broccoli florets, or chopped red and green peppers. (You can also add chicken.)
3. Chicken and Your Favorite Veggie Plate
Eliminating the starch every once in a while is also an ideal option for those on a gluten-free diet. Baked, pan-fried, or oven-fried chicken legs with a side of steamed broccoli is a truly low-cost meal. You can easily make this meal for $3 or $4 per person. Even if you opt for chicken breasts, the average price is less than $3.50 per pound — less than a typical loaf of gluten-free bread.
- ½ cup buttermilk or milk of choice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound total)
- Cooking spray (gluten-free)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 by 13-inch nonstick-rimmed baking sheet (gray, not black). In a small shallow bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder until thoroughly blended. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and paprika until well-combined. Dip each chicken thigh into the buttermilk mixture and then into the flour mixture, shaking gently to remove any excess.
Place the chicken skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Gently mist the chicken pieces with cooking spray to encourage browning. Bake, turning once, until the chicken is browned and juices are no longer pink when the centers of thickest pieces are cut, 45 to 60 minutes. Serve immediately.
4. Vegetable Medley
You can create a vegetable medley out of whatever veggies you have in your fridge (or freezer). If you want to stay under the $4 price point while still creating a great-tasting meal, seasoned broccoli and sweet corn go well together. Broccoli only costs around $1.80 per pound and you can easily find a bag of frozen corn for around $1.
This recipe comes from the Gluten-Free Herbyvore, and you can even perform a few swaps to keep costs down.
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 4 red bell peppers, ends cut and sliced into rings
- 6 carrots, sliced (hold carrots to reduce cost)
- 3 zucchini, sliced
- 3 squash, sliced
- ¼ cup herbes de provence
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put all your sliced vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Add in your olive oil, herbes de provence, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix around with your hands. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are nice and tender. Use it as a side of vegetables, put it on a sandwich, or complement with a salad or starch!