7 Easy Steps to Gluten-Free Supermarket Savings

While it might be getting easier to fill your shopping cart with the growing assortment of gluten-free products, it’s simultaneously getting harder to hold onto the money in your wallet.

I’ve found gluten-free foods that were as much as five times more expensive than their gluten-containing equivalents. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was experienced at saving money on groceries. Still I worried about how to afford eating gluten free. But I quickly figured out how to save big, and much to my surprise I do most of my shopping at the same place I shopped prior to my diagnosis — the grocery store.

There are lots of great ways to save at the grocery and supermarket while eating gluten free if you follow some simple tips and strategies.

Compare coupon policies

Contact your local stores to compare coupon policies. Some double coupons or offer gas rewards. Once you know the policy, you can use the information to get the most savings from your coupons. Sign up for shopper’s club or loyalty cards that offer savings only to card holders. These are great ways to help reduce your food bill each week.

Collect coupons

Get gluten-free coupons by contacting gluten-free companies by phone, on their websites and through Facebook and Twitter. High-value coupons usually come directly from the manufacturer. You have to print some yourself and can save on ink if you print in black and white or grayscale. For example, both Rudi’s and Udi’s gluten-free companies offer $1 off coupons online. Sign up for e-clubs or e-newsletters offered by many gluten-free brands. They often email coupons to their members.

Don’t overlook the traditional Sunday newspaper coupon insert. You can find coupons for both specialty and naturally gluten-free foods.  For example, Post’s Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereals are gluten free, and the insert often contains coupons for them.

And always look for coupons available in the store aisles as hang tags, tear pads or in automatic dispensers. Go through the coupons dispensed at the register when you check out, called CATALINAS. If you buy a brand-name product, you’ll often get a coupon offer for the same item in a different brand. Just be sure the new brand is gluten free if it’s not labeled as such.

Gas up

If you buy both specialty and naturally gluten-free items at the supermarket, you can earn gas rewards on your gluten-free purchases. Savings on gas can go up to $2 per gallon if you use your shopper card at participating stores. It’s the one time when the higher cost of gluten-free foods can work in your favor by saving you more on gas down the line.


Watch sales cycles and stock up when prices are low. Each week at the supermarket, some products cycle on sale. Write down the price each week for a period of time and you will see a pattern of how products cycle and when they cost the least – 50 to 70 percent off. That’s when it’s best to buy, particularly if you “stockpile“ the product. Use coupons on the product to save even more. Some products, like cereal, cycle to the lowest price every six weeks. But some only get to their lowest price once a year, so be sure to stock up on these items when they are on sale. If you shop this way whenever possible you will see a drastic savings in your grocery budget.

Store brands

More and more stores are selling their own cheaper brand of gluten-free products. However, if you have a coupon for a name-brand food, and you are watching the sales cycle, it can be cheaper to buy the brand name. For example, if you have a coupon for gluten-free Chex cereal and purchase it during the sales cycle it will be less expensive than the store brand. It really pays off to clip coupons and match them to the sales cycle.

Go natural

Buy lots of naturally gluten-free foods. Vegetables, fruits, rice, beans, potatoes, eggs, lean meats and poultry and more are all gluten free and don’t have the premium price that comes with specialty gluten-free products. Buy what’s on sale or in season.

Freeze foods

Extend the life of products that you find on sale by freezing them. You can buy larger quantities of perishable foods that are a great deal. Look for manager’s specials. Every day most departments, including produce, dairy and meat, mark down some items significantly. When you find a product that is near expiration, it’s usually a great time to save big. If the product can be frozen, you can safely buy it and use it past the expiration date as long as you follow recommended freezer storage limits.


Take these steps to save at the grocery store. Then occasionally splurge guilt free on special gluten-free items that you need or just enjoy.  GF


Melissa Jennings is the author of Savvy Saving, Couponing Secrets from the Stockpiling Moms and co-founder of stockpilingmoms.com. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2011 and offers gluten-free money savings tips and more on the website.

This article was originally published in our Fall 2012 issue; all information was correct at time of publication. 

Plan Gluten-Free Meals to Save Time and Money

Illustration by Daniel Vasconcellos, vasky.com.

If summer really is lazy and hazy, then fall is frenetic and full of constraints on our time and budgets.

The reason is obvious if you have children and, like me, the thing uppermost in your mind is how busy life will soon be. Soccer is starting, homework is on the horizon, and there will be many school-related meetings and obligations. Even if you don’t have children or yours are grown and gone, fall usually marks a return to all the scheduled parts of life that break for the summer. Now that you’ve used your vacation time and budget, it’s back to the routine.

My No. 1 suggestion for saving both time and money right now is to create and use a menu plan. This is a huge money saver because you are less likely to stop for fast food or to dine out if you already have your meals planned. Better yet, if you take advantage of freezer cooking you will also already have your meals prepared. That will make you even less likely to dine out on those nights when you feel too tired for the all the preparation and cooking needed to get dinner on the table.

Menu planning and freezer cooking have another benefit. They will help you stay healthy. If you know what you are preparing for dinner in advance each night, you are more likely to stick to a sensible approach to eating that does not involve fast food French fries, even the gluten-free ones.

Involve your family in menu planning, something I started doing in 2006. I keep flexible by flipping what’s on the menu from one day to another if necessary. We rarely go out to eat because we know what’s for dinner, and we have all the needed ingredients ready and waiting. Nothing will prompt surrender and a trip to a local restaurant quicker than having to run to the supermarket before you can even start dinner. A menu plan also helps with savings because you know what you need over a period of time and can stock up when things on your list are on sale.

Variety will help make menu planning successful, too. I like to include one food from every food group, with meals centered on the protein (this can also be dried beans). Include foods with different textures, shapes, colors and temperatures in your plan. You can also sneak in veggies, as I do with an easy homemade marinara that my family loves but has no idea how many veggies it contains.

Begin the menu by writing down all the meals that you know how to prepare and your family likes to eat. Then fill up the calendar with these meals that you know best. Next look for low-cost recipes to add to your menu. Check blogs and Pinterest for easy recipes.

Ask your family what they would like to see on the menu plan and be sure to include a family favorite each week. This gives everyone something to look forward to. I always include a leftovers night, too. This gives me a break from cooking and allows us to clean out our fridge, saving money instead of throwing away food left so long it’s spoiled.

Especially in the fall, my Crock-Pot™ is my saving grace. We are so busy that putting ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning is sometimes the only way we get a decent dinner. If you plan ahead with a weekly gluten-free menu and shop for your groceries over the weekend, you will be stocked up and able to keep yourself on track.

Freezing meals can help a lot, too. The best way to get started with freezer cooking is to spend one day each weekend cooking meals that you will freeze and reheat at least a few nights each week. After you master this process you can extend your prep to create enough meals for two weeks and eventually a month. When you prepare 20 meals in one day of cooking, you are set for a full month of menu planning. That one day of work will really pay off in terms of saving time and money even if it seems a little intimidating at first.

Part of the secret is doubling or tripling recipes. It does not take any longer to prepare enough ground meat for three recipes than for one, not to mention the time you save by having to clean up only once. You can prepare a large quantity of many meats and vegetables and use them in a variety of dishes. Keep in mind that some ingredients don’t freeze well, including mayonnaise and sour cream, cabbage, celery and cucumbers.

A vacuum sealer or freezer bag makes it much easier to store your meals in the freezer. Make sure you label and date your food. And remember that freezing will work best if you are organized, shop one day, and prep and cook on another.

If you’ve been thinking that this all sounds like too much work, reconsider. You’ll be surprised by how much time and money you can really save.



Melissa Jennings, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2011, is the author of Savvy Saving, Couponing Secrets from the Stockpiling Moms and co-founder of stockpilingmoms.com.

Unexpected Bargains

Illustration by Daniel Vasconcellos, vasky.com.

HomeGoods, Marshalls & more carry gluten-free items at great prices

I love bargain shopping, an art I learned from my Granny when I was a little girl. Gluten-free products can cost five times as much as traditional products, so I get a rush when I get a deal.

The key to finding gluten-free bargains is patience. Always be on the lookout for sales. And when you find a rock-bottom deal, it’s time to stockpile. Use coupons or store incentives when possible, and keep your eyes peeled for clearance and manager’s specials.

Managers of each department in a store mark down products that are near expiration, seasonal or are being discontinued. They can be made daily or weekly. Ask your store when markdowns are made so you can grab bargains.

Some stores have a manager’s specials cart or shelf, and others make markdowns in the aisle. Always check the expiration date on perishable products and match with a coupon when possible.

Grocery stores often have gluten-free bargains. I’ve picked up Udi’s bread for less than half price and hummus for 75 percent off. You can extend the shelf life of many products by freezing them. Aldi and Trader Joe’s are two grocery chains you might not think of for gluten-free bargains.

But Aldi offers customers quality using its purchasing power and relationships with suppliers to negotiate low prices — which means big savings for you. Almost 95 percent of the store’s products are sold under the Aldi brand name, but the store does carry some other gluten-free brands and often has Trader Joe’s gluten-free products at a discount.

Trader Joe’s, an unconventional store where the cashiers wear Hawaiian shirts, doesn’t have sales, store coupons or any discounts on private-label products. Instead, you’ll find everyday low prices, and you can use manufacturer’s coupons on brand names. Trader Joe’s offers a wide selection of gluten-free options, but you won’t get deep discounts or bargain-priced items.

Grocery stores aren’t the only places with deals on gluten-free food. Finding a gluten-free bargain at a specialty store can feel like discovering treasure. Some favorites include:

HomeGoods, T.J.Maxx & Marshalls

These fashion and home discount stores, all owned by the same company, sell a wide variety of clothing and decorator items, so you might be surprised to know they can be great places for gluten-free shopping. The stores offer discounted products and overstocks up to 60 percent off department store prices every day. HomeGoods sells brands that can be hard to find in food stores, many of which are in the gourmet category. You can also get reward cards from each all three stores that enable you to earn points for further discounts.

Big Lots

This bargain chain offers discounted products and overstocks. It carries a wide variety of gluten-free products, including Bob’s Red Mill brand. You can sign up to become a Buzz Club Rewards Member and get coupons for 20 percent off your entire purchase.


This nationwide discount store carries a number of gluten-free brands. Walmart has a clearance section, too, but it’s not organized, and it’s sometimes difficult to find a gluten-free bargain. You can price match at Walmart, so if you find a gluten-free sale in a competitor’s advertisement the store will match it.


With a reputation for being a bit trendier than other discount department stores, it’s no wonder Target is carrying more gluten-free products. The chain just started carrying Canyon Bakehouse breads in 800 locations. You can use manufacturer’s coupons and a Target store coupon at the same time for additional savings. Target makes clearance markdowns every week, so be sure to ask your store what day. If you use a Target credit or debit card, you’ll get 5 percent off your total bill and another 5 percent is offered once you fill five prescriptions at the store pharmacy.

Drug stores

I have picked up great deals at Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS. Each chain has its own incentive program. You can sign up for free to take advantage of savings and then use rewards on gluten-free items. You’ll also find manager’s specials and clearance markdowns fairly often in drug stores. For example, I picked up GoPicnic meals on clearance for $1.60 at Walgreens.

Don’t assume you always have to pay full price for gluten-free products. There are a lot of bargains sitting on the shelves waiting for you to snag them.


Melissa Jennings is the author of Savvy Saving, Couponing Secrets from the Stockpiling Moms and co-founder of stockpilingmoms.com. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2011 and offers gluten-free money savings tips and more on the website.


How To Save on Gluten-Free Products

Illustration by Daniel Vasconcellos, vasky.com.

Websites with the best GF savings

These online retailers will save you the most money on gluten-free products. Some offer gluten-free items among other products and others are exclusively gluten free.

  1. GlutenFreeSaver.com is a daily deal site for gluten-free products. You can save 50 percent or more on the featured item and deals often include free shipping. It is a great way to try a brand at a stock-up price. Deals vary from foods to vitamins and more.
  2. Amazon.com often deeply discounts gluten-free items. If you are an Amazon Prime member you receive free shipping on most items, too. Amazon also offers a subscribe-and-save program with a discount on everyday prices and the option of changing the flavor or size of an item, skipping delivery or getting an extra delivery. The program has no commitment or fees and you can cancel anytime. If you join and decide you don’t want to continue after the first item, you will still get the membership saving on that item. You can cancel future automatic shipments with no penalty.
  3. Ebates.com enables you to earn cash back for shopping online. Always go to Ebates.com when you are going to make an online purchase to see if the site from which you are buying also has cash back or another discount through Ebates. This is a great way to save as much as possible.
  4. SwagBucks.com is the largest free online rewards program. You sign up for free and “earn” Swag Bucks for online activity such as downloading the Swag Bucks tool bar and using it as your search engine (Swag Bucks is powered by Google). Reward points can be used for thousands of great prizes like gift cards, electronics and more. You can redeem Swag Bucks for Amazon.com gift certificates. Match the free gift certificates to deals and free shipping from Amazon.com, and it is the trifecta of savings.
  5. Vitacost.com has a huge variety of gluten-free and organic products. Most products are 30 to 70 percent off retail prices. When you purchase $49 or more you qualify for free shipping. You can subscribe to a free email newsletter to get special offers and sale information. When you refer a friend you both earn a $10 coupon once your friend spends at least $30 on the site.
  6. Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com are daily deal sites that occasionally offer savings on gluten-free products. The savings can be big, with 50 to 75 percent off.  With a free subscription you will get savings offers sent to your email.
  7. AbesMarket.com is an online marketplace for natural products including gluten-free selections and offers free shipping on orders of more than $49.  Sign up for the newsletter for exclusive offers, deals and new arrivals. Abe’s sometimes offers sales up to 35 percent, which is the best time to stock up. LivingSocial.com sometimes offers deals on Abe’s vouchers.
  8. iHerb.com sells healthy products, including gluten-free items. The site offers a flat shipping rate of $4, plus free shipping for any order of more than $4 anywhere in the contiguous United States. iHerb rewards can be used for extra discounts, free products and cash back.
  9. Celiac.com/glutenfreemall specializes in gluten-free foods and special dietary products, including frozen foods. They offer daily specials and an enewsletter with coupons and discounts.  You’ll find the best deals under the “Specials” tab on the menu bar.
  10. RedAppleLipstick.com has a free VIP club that includes 20 percent off every month on gluten-free lipstick, plus exclusive deals throughout the year.