Aaah, the first of the month. I spent yesterday in Raleigh, visiting Whole Foods, Costco and Trader Joe’s.
When you first go gluten-free, the first question you ask is “But *what* will I eat? Then you look at some GF pastas, breads, and flours and the second thing you ask is “But how can I afford this?”
Perhaps this new lifestyle suited our family well because my husband I already happily would travel to shop at a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s where local, seasonal or organic foods were available. We were already label-readers. We were already concerned that our food didn’t come out of boxes. We were already concerned with making sure that we maintained our bodies and environment through the choices we made.
But let’s address the first question. “What will I eat??? Everything has gluten (and dairy, if you cut both) in it!!!”
That’s the crux of the issue. Actually, most foods *don’t* have gluten in them. It’s just that wheat is so cheap and is used as a cheap filler in processed foods.
That old rule of nutritionists… shop the outside of a grocery store and avoid the inside, and you’ll have healthier choices holds true here. There is a world of food out there. When I first started, I’d buy something each grocery trip I’d never tried before or at least didn’t know much about. That led to us trying parsnips, bison, swiss chard, lamb, millet. Other things I might have liked, or didn’t like so much, that are now staples. Mostly vegetables, in our case.
It’s true, even with eating around whole foods, there is still alot of wheat around. Bread, sandwiches, tortillas, burritos, crackers. Sure, it’s all wheat. But you’ll find that once you start to rely on other foods, you need those less.
Then the second question… “How do I afford these foods?”
That comes back to the same principle. No one forces you to buy a $7 loaf of gluten-free bread and a $3.50 box of gluten-free pasta. Except those opiate receptors that gluten acts on… but that’s another post.
If you focus on whole foods, you just don’t need all those packaged gluten free products. I’m not preachy here. I’ve bought a lot of gluten free products. The beginning of the month also means my amazon subscribe and save purchases arrive, mostly gluten-free mixes and flours.
But if you go more package free along with gluten free, it’s really not so bad.
Or better yet, don’t just go light on the packages. Go light on the grocery store. Farmer’s Market’s are by far the easiest way to get affordable food. The only caveat is that you have to eat more vegetables and less packaged junk!
I’ve seen friends go to the Farmer’s Market and buy three tomatoes and then go grocery shopping later. We may have used to have done that, but no longer. During the right seasons, I spend as much at the Farmer’s Market as I do at the store, but get more for it.
Last summer, we bought our veggies and eggs from the market, and only meat from the local stores.
Now, I have learned to budget and buy enough meat (so that I can afford organic/local) from Whole Foods, Costco and Trader Joe’s) at the beginning of the month and utilize our deep freezer, so that the rest of the month I buy only fresh stuff– fruits and veggies.
There are many things we afford because of my use of Amazon.com, too. Organic canned beans… I think $2.29 and more locally. $1 and some change with Amazon subscribe and save. What about gluten-free cake mixes and flours? I save atleast $2 or more on several of the brands I buy online.
Cashews, the vegan or dairy free person’s dream come true, are not cheap, especially for raw or organic. Often $12 a pound. The broken pieces of $6.50 at Whole Foods, and whole raw ones are $6.00 a pound at Trader Joe’s. I order ten pounds at a time, getting them at $5 a pound online.
I just made some cashew cream. It’s wonderful stuff.
Also, I’ve found a local grassfed beef place, that I’ve got to make a large order from but need to organize with some friends to do.
Once you start to dissect those two big worries about eating more whole foods in general or gluten-free, you start to learn that you just may want to rethink the way you buy and the way you eat. And it’s really not any more work, it’s just different.
I personally, was easy on myself at first. I bought whatever GF goodies I wanted. But that did add up too much, and any time you are eating loads of packaged stuff it’s less healthy than cooking whole foods. I gave myself several months to treat myself and not worry about costs, and now I have figured out ways to maintain our new, happier lifestyle.
Yesterday at Whole Foods, I bought grassfed beef on sale and some fresh greens and other things. I didn’t need to buy the expensive gluten-free cake mixes because those are coming online.
What do we eat? Everything but gluten.
How do we afford it? We budget and we’re creative and we support local farmers.
I have friends who live in places where they have several farmer’s markets to choose from that run year round. I am jealous of them. I hope Farmer’s Markets will get larger and longer running and easier to access here, so that others who would find the work I do to shop at them easier.