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10 Cheap Gluten-Free Meals

Published on: February 21, 2023

Do you live a gluten-free lifestyle but are finding it expensive? Let’s change that.

We’ll provide tips and tricks to make gluten-free eating more affordable and won’t lack flavour!

Keep reading to learn how to make cheap gluten-free meals.

What are Gluten-Free Meals

Before we can discuss what a gluten-free meal is, let’s talk about gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat products. Those with Celiac disease must avoid all gluten-containing products as gluten damages the intestine. In addition, those with a gluten sensitivity may avoid gluten-containing foods to mitigate unwanted symptoms.

You can find gluten in the following foods:

  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Wheat 
  • Kamut
  • Spelt
  • Oats*

Although oats are naturally gluten-free, they are often made in facilities where wheat-based ingredients are used. Thus, the risk of cross-contamination with oats is high. If you want to consume oats, check with your registered dietitian and ensure they are certified gluten-free.

Please note this is not an extensive list, and you should always refer to the ingredient list, the “may contain statement” on the package and review any food products of concern with a registered dietitian.

Gluten-free meals are free of any of the above or a hybrid of the above ingredients. In addition, gluten-free meals will use certified gluten-free products where appropriate instead of gluten-containing foods.

Are Gluten-Free Meals Expensive

Specifically designed gluten-free products (i.e. gluten-free noodles) can be more expensive than their original counterpart (wheat-based noodles). However, with careful planning and substitutions eating a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to break the bank. 

Tips for Making Cheap Gluten-Free Meals

Money-Saving Tips for Gluten-Free Ingredients 

Here are three money-saving tips when you are purchasing gluten-free products:

  1. Buy in bulk

Let’s clarify: do not purchase products in the grocery store’s bulk section. Yes, these may be cheaper, but there is a high risk of cross-contamination, so avoiding these areas is key.

However, when they are on sale, you want to buy your favourite gluten-free products in large quantities. So if it’s a good sale with an extended expiry date, stock up on as many of each product as possible.

  1. Coupons

Seeking coupons takes effort, but it can save you $100s of dollars yearly on gluten-free groceries. Simply email the company’s general email and tell them you’re looking to try their product, and you may be surprised that many will offer free coupons. 

Further, most of your favourite gluten free-foods will offer discount coupons regularly on their website, newsletter, or email.

  1. Gluten-Free Tax Deduction (Canada)

If you have Celiac disease and live in Canada, save your receipts! You can deduct the cost of gluten-free products compared to a similar gluten-containing product on your taxes.

For example, if bread is $2.99 and gluten-free bread is $6.99, you can claim $3.99 on your tax return. You can apply this to all products you purchase that are marketed as gluten-free. 

Inexpensive Gluten-Free Substitutes

Not all gluten-free products are equal when it comes to price. You can find similar products with different price tags, so shopping around and checking out brands is best.

Here is a list of lower-cost gluten-free alternatives using price information from The Real Canadian Superstore. Please note prices are subject to change, and these gluten-free products are generally cheaper than their competitors. 

  • Catelli Gluten Free Fusilli (340 g): $3.00
  • President’s Choice Gluten Free White Bread: $5.29/loaf 
  • President’s Choice Gluten Free Tortillas Original: $5.99/6 tortillas
  • President’s Choice Gluten Free Pancake Mix (400 g): $4.99
  • Breton Gluten Free Herb and Garlic Crackers (139 g): $3.49

Cooking From Scratch 

Cooking your food at home is a guaranteed way to help you spend less on gluten-free products.

Cooking at home can be more time-consuming; however, once you’ve mastered a few simple recipes, it doesn’t have to be!

This simple gluten-free bread recipe from Dish by Dish is a great place to start if you’re looking for a bread recipe that requires little effort.

10 Cheap Gluten-Free Meals 

Here are ten cheap gluten-free meals you can make in a pinch!

Disclaimer: Ensure you read all labelling on a food product to confirm it’s gluten-free before consuming it!

  1. Red Lentil Pasta Salad

Red lentil pasta does cost more on average than regular pasta and even gluten-free pasta. However, red lentil pasta is high in protein and carbohydrates, so a serving can act as both the carbohydrate and protein portion of the meal, bringing the overall cost way down.

  1. Low FODMAP Chicken Soup with Vegetables

The cost-savings in this recipe come from making your own stock! And don’t worry; it’s simple. Use the carcass from a whole chicken and all of the vegetable scraps from this recipe (carrot tops) and other scraps you’ve stocked away in your freezer like onion and garlic skins).

Using frozen or canned veggies, like in this Low FODMAP Chicken Soup recipe, is an easy way to reduce the overall cost. 

Further, did you know frozen vegetables typically retain just as much or even more nutrients than fresh? This is because these vegetables are picked at their ripest before being flash-frozen.

  1. Easy Rice and Beans 

Beans are a great way to save money; they’re also gluten-free! Opt for plain canned beans, as they should be gluten-free. But you can purchase dried beans to reduce your bill further.

Dried beans take some prep work, but you can cook up a batch for the week and freeze what you don’t use for future soups and casseroles.

  1. Vegan Chickpea Salad

Choosing more plant-based meals is another great way to save at the grocery store. Here are some price comparisons from The Read Canadian Superstore:

  • Tofu (Sunrise Extra Firm): $1.00/100 g
  • Canned Lentils (No Name Brand): $0.82/100g
  • Dried Lentils (PC Blue Menu): $0.42/100 g
  • Chicken Breast (Conventional – based on avg. wt of 1.864 kg): $1.32/100 g
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef (Conventional – based on avg. wt of 500 g): $1.60/100g 

Ground beef is typically cheaper than chicken per 100 g, but it is easier to find chicken in larger quantities, thus benefiting from bulk package pricing. 

  1. Taco Lettuce Cups

The cost of lettuce these days is skyrocketing. However, one simple solution is to grow your own lettuce! Even if you live in an apartment, this easy-going plant can flourish anywhere!

  1. Gluten-Free Teriakyi Chicken with Broccoli 

Chicken is typically a cheaper option when it comes to animal-based proteins. However, some cuts are more affordable than others! For example, opting for chicken thighs over breasts will save you save on chicken. 

Also, if you have room in your freezer, it’s worth buying when it’s on sale and freezing for later.

  1. Spicy Noodles with Pork, Scallions and Bok Choy

Who doesn’t love a good (gluten-free) noodle dish?

To bump up the nutrition further, try swapping the pork in this recipe for some smoked tofu! Plain tofu is naturally gluten-free; however, pay close attention to the ingredients list because some flavoured tofu may have added gluten-containing ingredients. 

  1. Easy Ground Turkey and Black Bean Taco Skillet

Ground meats like ground turkey are a great way to make cheap gluten-free meals and are typically more cost-effective than their whole counterparts. 

Also, if you want to stretch your ground meat further, pair it with beans.

  1. Inside Out Egg Rolls

Include lower-cost fresh vegetables in your meals. Typically choosing root vegetables and some greens are more cost-effective for fresh veggies.

Here is a list of our top recommended low-cost vegetables. These prices are from The Real Canadian Superstore and are subject to change:

  • Carrots: $2.99/2 lb bag
  • Celery: $3.99/bunch 
  • Onions: $2.99/3 lb bag
  • Bok Choy: $1.49/1 lb 
  • Cabbage: $3.70/head 
  • Russet potatoes: $2.29/1 lb 
  • Sweet potatoes: 1.99/1 lb
  • Squash: 1.47/lb

This Inside Out Egg Roll recipe is a great way to save on ingredients as it uses multiple low-cost vegetables. And, of course, it’s gluten-free!

  1. Eat the Rainbow Black Beans and Quinoa Salad 

Quinoa is a diverse gluten-free grain that may not be as expensive as you think! For example, Clic Quinoa from The Real Canadian Superstore sells for $5.99 for a 907 g bag or $0.66/100g (note, prices may have changed when this article was published). 

Resources for Finding Cheap Gluten-Free Meals

The Canadian Celiac Association has some great resources on cheap gluten-free meals. They have budget-friendly tips on things like:

  • Brands
  • Online Shopping
  • Coupons 
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Cash Back Apps
  • Buying in Bulk 
  • Stockpiling
  • Reducing Waste
  • Find Supports
  • Budgeting  

Further, if you want more individualized support, contact a registered dietitian.

Did you know under some extended benefits plans in Canada, you may have $500-$1000 yearly coverage for a registered dietitian?

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, creating cheap gluten-free meals doesn’t have to be expensive; you don’t have to sacrifice flavour to save money.

By following the tips outlined in this post, you can make affordable gluten-free meals that are tasty and nutritious. 

Some highlighted tips include purchasing products in bulk, looking for coupons, taking advantage of tax deductions, opting for less expensive brands, and making your meals at home. 

Remember, with some planning and preparation, you can enjoy a gluten-free diet without hurting your wallet.

So, what are you waiting for? Start experimenting with these delicious, budget-friendly, gluten-free recipes and join our newsletter today for more information on budget-friendly shopping for gluten-free eating. 


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Kelsey Moore Registered Dietitian Headshot

Hi I’m Kelsey!

I’m a Registered Dietitian working in the retail grocery industry. I help families find allergen-free foods at the grocery store while saving them time and money.

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