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 learning curve…

Gluten free products can be pricier than their gluten-containing counterparts in the supermarkets, so that’s why it’s especially important as a student to prioritise, budget and make full use of your prescription!

Free From is great, but be aware…

You may already be familiar with the ‘Free From‘ aisles in virtually all major supermarkets (such as Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda etc.) – even the smaller ‘Express’ type stores often stock these items too, in a smaller Free From section.

It’s important to remember that just because items are labelled ‘Free From,’ this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be gluten free. In most circumstances these products will indeed be safe, but you must never assume so – as free from can refer to many things – such as dairy free, wheat free or lactose free.

To make sure a food item is definitely gluten free, read the labels thoroughly. There is UK legislation that means any allergens in a product must be clearly labelled – usually they will be in bold, as in the example below:

ingredients image3

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

Anything that says ‘may contain’ is referring to a possible risk that the manufacturer has noticed either during the production line/handling process or ingredient source. Examples may say something like this somewhere on the packaging:

May contain traces of gluten
Made in a factory handling wheat products

If you are ever unclear about whether or not an item is gluten free, the wisest thing to do is either contact the product manufacturer or Coeliac UK’s Food and Drink Directory.

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 may 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.

You should also ensure you make full use of your gluten free prescription, which is designed to support 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 very useful gluten free checklist, available to download as a PDF through this link, which lists all of the major food groups and should help you determine which ones are naturally gluten free, which might be gluten free and which ones that won’t be – a very useful tool indeed!