Shopping gluten free on a budget

Managing money is a very big part of university – for many students, it will be the first time you have to undertake such responsibility, and it can be a bit of a steep learning curve…

Gluten free foods can be pricier than their gluten-containing counterparts in the supermarkets, so that’s why it’s particularly important as a student to prioritise, budget and, if you are fortunate to live in an area where gluten free foods are still offered on prescription, make the most of your prescription!

If you are not entitled to prescriptions, it is still possible to manage your food shopping on a tight budget. And remember, although the ‘Free From’ aisles can be great, you don’t have to buy everything from these aisles. There are so many foods in the regular aisles that will be gluten-free, and allergen labelling now makes this clearer and easier to see at a glance whether something is gluten free. The most common way for an allergen to be highlighted is in bold – as shown in the label example below:

It’s a good idea to always read all of the information on the packaging – there may be an ‘allergy advice‘ description too. Some products will also clearly state that they are gluten free, and may also include a gluten free symbol, which is very useful.

You may also see statements similar to the one above, which indicates that a product is not suitable for a particular diet due to production methods or the risk of cross contamination within the factory environment. 

If you are ever unsure if something is gluten free, the best thing to do is contact the product manufacturer or refer to Coeliac UK’s Food and Drink Directory. And if in doubt, leave it out!

Gluten free budget bargains

Most supermarkets will have a ‘reduced’ or ‘bargain’ section, and will often mark down items that are coming up to their ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date – leaving you with a great opportunity to bag yourself some bargains. Obviously the items will vary widely and not everything may be suitable, but there will be lots of naturally gluten free bits and bobs to swindle if you time it right!

It’s also very helpful when budgeting to make a list before you go shopping (maybe the above-mentioned bargains being the exception) along with a price limit of what you can afford to spend. Buying in bulk can help too – as long as you have enough storage space.

And again, if you are able to obtain basic staples such as gluten-free bread and flour mixes on prescription, this will help to keep your food costs down. A gluten free prescription can play an important role in supporting your healthy management of coeliac disease.

Further advice on gluten free shopping…

Coeliac UK are a fantastic resource for ensuring you’re in the know about gluten free foods. They have a really handy app which you can use to search and scan suitable foods – find out more about it here.