The single most challenging thing I’ve had to do with a fixed EBT grocery budget is to provide my oldest daughter, Ace, with a gluten and dairy free diet. But it’s even more challenging than that. She is also corn and oat free, as well as restricted from a menagerie of fruits and veggies in accordance with the Feingold diet. Someday when I can finally start shopping for food online or in bulk stores I know that it will be so much easier to save money, but I can’t do either on EBT.
Part of what makes this even tougher on the grocery budget is that the majority of lower priced gluten free products have either corn or oats in them, so everything I buy must be carefully read to search for hidden ingredients.
Breakfast and lunch items are fairly straightforward. We eat a ton of eggs for breakfast, cooked with coconut oil or bacon grease. I can also use WIC to purchase Rice Chex or Rice Crispies for her. She gets her very own loaf of bread. It’s terribly expensive, but since she’s the only one using it, it lasts much longer. She eats ingredient safe lunch meat and dairy free cheese sandwiches, and as well as peanut butter and safe jelly sandwiches.
Dinner is a bit more complicated. The only time I make her a separate dish is when I use pasta in the meal, or am craving cheese. Otherwise, our dinner’s have been adapted to be GF and DF for the whole family. It’s just way less work for me that way, and she doesn’t have to feel different or left out.
So how do I make it work? First off, here are my GF and DF staples.
Canned coconut milk
GF baking mix
DF butter spread
Jovial rice pasta
GF and DF cookies (only brought out when attending a party as her safe sub)
Pinterest has yielded many recipes for gluten and dairy free cooking, so that was my main go-to for new recipes in the beginning. Now I just sub coconut milk for regular milk, the gluten free flour mix for regular flour. For special occasion recipes, like cakes, I use Pamela’s Products gluten free mixes with great results.
I like using olive oil instead of coconut oil for my baked goods since it remains liquid when mixed with cold ingredients. I know some people think it gives a funny flavor, but I’ve never noticed it myself.
Arrowroot powder takes a bit of a learning curve, but was the easiest to learn how to replace corn starch and flour to thicken sauces and gravies. Here’s a good crash course on how to use arrowroot powder.
Jovial brand GF pastas continue to win out against all others for quality and flavor. They are a bit more expensive than the others, but I only cook a pasta dish every couple of weeks or so.
There are quite a few crackers available that fit into her diet restrictions, but Natural Truth brand from City Market has won out for price.
DF butter spread is our newest addition to the mix. It really helps Ace to not feel so different from the rest of the family when we use butter. But it might have to go if our EBT budgets gets dropped much more.
Do you have any diet restrictions? What has worked best to keep the budget down?