Gluten Free on a Budget: Healthy Breakfast Swaps for the Gluten Free Diet

Shopping gluten free on a budget

I hear it from clients all the time, “the gluten free diet is expensive.”  And, while, there is certainly some truth to that for a minority of products, there are a multitude of ways to stay on budget, while still eating safely and I am excited to share them with you!

So, the first one we are going to cover today is gluten free cereal.  Gluten free cereal is expensive, a processed food and does not need to be an ‘everyday’ food.  Certainly, eating it once in a while, is no big deal.  However, it shouldn’t be a staple food in the house as there are many other more nutritious GF options.  Let’s explore the alternative options.

When I costed the ingredients below, I used a common breakfast cereal that I see frequently in client food journals. I purposefully left out the brand name.

As a general reference, when I am looking at the nutrition facts of a cereal, I commonly look at two things -fiber and added sources of sugar.  So, if fiber is low, the rest of the nutrition facts of the product are typically not great.  If sugar is high, the rest of the nutrition facts of the product are also, typically, not great.

Daily Goals for Fiber and Limits for Added Sugars: 

  • Fiber Goals/Day: Minimum of 25g/day for a Women, 30-38g/day for Men
  • Added Sugar Limits/Day: No more than 20-35g in a day

GF Cereal Fiber Goals and Limit for Added Sugar:

  • Fiber Goals/serving of GF cereal:  at least 4g of fiber/ONE serving
  • Added Sugar Limit/serving of GF cereal: no more than 6g sugar/ONE serving

All product costing below came from the Real Canadian Superstore, Amazon.ca, Well.ca, Prana.Bio and/or Walmart and made use of sales/coupons, if available.

Common GF breakfast:

1.5 cups common GF cereal (brand name purposefully not mentioned) with 1 cup lactose free milk

Nutrition breakdown:

  • Fiber: 2g (not good)
  • Added sugar: 16g (really not good!)

Costing:

  • Total Cost/person = $1.20
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $24
  • Cost/year: $1248

Swap it for:

1.Overnight Oats:

Ingredients: 1/3 cup raw, Only Oats large flake gluten free oats + 2 TBP Bob’s Red Mill gluten free ground flax seeds + 100g (~1/2 cup) Yoplait whole milk plain yogurt + ~1/3 cup water, ~1/2 cup chopped apple + cinnamon (pantry staple, not included in pricing)

Prepare: The night before, mix the oats, flax, yogurt, water, apple, and cinnamon together in a jar or bowl.  In the morning, warm up or eat cold.  If you prefer, you can add the apple, fresh, in the morning.

Nutrition breakdown:

  • Fiber: 11g
  • Added sugar: 0g

Costing:

  • Total cost/person = $0.96
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $19.20
  • Cost/year: $998.40
  • Cost savings/year: $321.60

2. Chia Pudding:

Ingredients: PranaBio 2 TBP gluten free chia seeds + 1/2 cup Natura unsweetened soymilk + 2 TBP water + 1 small banana + 1-2 TBP Hershey’s mini dark chocolate chipits

Prepare:  Mix it all together 1-2 hours before you plan to eat it, or the night before.  The chia seeds will absorb all of the liquid changing it a ”pudding” like consistency.  If you don’t like the texture of soft banana, add it, fresh, in the morning.

Nutrition Breakdown:

  • Fiber: 10g
  • Added Sugar: 4-7g

Costing:

  • Total cost/person = $0.93
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $18.60
  • Cost/year: $967.20
  • Cost savings/year: $352.80

3.  Grab and Go Breakfast Bowl: 

This is quick option for busy morning.  All you would need to do is boil eggs ahead of time.

Ingredients: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 fuji apple, 2 TBP Kraft natural peanut butter

Prepare:  In a container, put salt and pepper on the eggs, cut apple into slices and dip into peanut butter.

Nutrition Breakdown:

  • Fiber: 6g
  • Added Sugar: 0g

Costing:

  • Total cost/person = $0.77
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $15.40
  • Cost/year: $800.80
  • Cost savings/year: $447.20

4.  Berry Rise and Shine Smoothie:

Another great busy morning option.  Make your morning even faster by blending the night before, storing it in the fridge overnight in a drinkable container (like a jar) and giving it a shake as you walk out the door.

Ingredients: 1 small banana, 1/2 cup President’s Choice four berry frozen berry blend,  1/2 cup President’s Choice plain yogurt, 1 TBP Bob’s Red Mill gluten free ground flax seeds, water to thin smoothie to desired texture.

Prepare:  Put all ingredients in the blender.  Blend until smooth.

Nutrition Breakdown:

  • Fiber: 8g
  • Added Sugar: 0g

Costing:

  • Total cost/person = $1.05
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $21
  • Cost/year: $1092
  • Cost savings/year: $156

5.  Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients: 3/4 cup President’s Choice plain yogurt, 1/2 fuji apple, chopped, 2 TBP Kraft natural peanut butter, 2 TBP Bob’s Red Mill gluten free ground flax seed

Prepare: Mix the natural peanut butter with the yogurt.  Top with chopped apple and ground flax seed.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and a dollop of honey, if desired.

Nutrition Breakdown:

  • Fiber: 8g
  • Added Sugar: 0g

Costing:

  • Total cost/person = $1.14
  • Feeding a family of 4, 5 days/week = $22.80
  • Cost/year: $1185.60
  • Cost savings/year: $62.40

Bottomline:

Gluten free cereal (even the somewhat healthier,  more expensive kinds) should be a ‘sometimes’ food and not an ‘everyday’ food.  They shouldn’t make the grocery list every week.

For the majority of people, if you learn two simple strategies, you can save yourself money and improve the health of you and your families diet.  The two strategies are:

  1.  Food skills – knowledge of how to prepare meals with single ingredient foods
  2. Meal planning

I hope this motivates you to get into the kitchen!

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