Frugal Food Allergy Living is coming to a close, although I have decided to extend it a little longer with one additional topic. If there is a topic that you would like to see featured, please let me know in the comment section. You can find more on living a frugally with food allergies at The Willing Cook.
From the original post on Food Allergies and Budgets:
Prepare Food from Scratch
Avoid pre-packaged or processed foods, even allergy-friendly foods. They are pricey and generally not the healthiest for you, especially when avoiding multiple allergens. Stick with fresh meat and produce, dry beans, bulk rice, and oats, for example.
Eating “whole foods” seems to be all the rave these days in healthy circles. There are many websites dedicated to “whole food,” as well as grocery stores and restaurants. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines whole food as “a natural food and especially an unprocessed one (as a vegetable or fruit).” It is simply preparing food from scratch or homemade, although there are many variations of this (avoiding buying processed foods versus milling own flour, making homemade yogurt, raising chickens, etc.).
Preparing food from scratch becomes a necessity when living with food allergies, rather than a simple exception.
- Most prepackaged food has one allergen or another in it. Just read the labels and you will see all the “contains.”
- The most common allergens found in prepackaged food is dairy, wheat, soy and corn. Not to mention the preservatives and artificial colors and flavors added to prepackaged foods.
- Even so-called “allergy-friendly” pre-packaged foods that are becoming more common on the grocery shelves are not necessarily good for you. Furthermore, they are really expensive. You can make a homemade version for a lot less.
- Try making a similar version as the pre-packaged allergy-friendly foods at home. For example, instead of buying allergy-friendly pre-packaged cookies or cake mixes, I make them homemade. I make a couple dozen cupcakes at a time and individually freeze them. When my son goes to a birthday party, I take a cupcake out of the freezer, spread on some icing that I keep in the refrigerator and he’s off to a birthday party. You can do the same thing with cookie dough. Make a batch or two ahead of time, freeze them, and bake as needed.
- There are exceptions to this rule. If you want some prepackaged foods for convenience sake, just make sure you read the labels carefully.
Frugal Living and Preparing Food from Scratch
- It is true that there often better deals in the grocery ads or more coupons available for processed foods. But is their a potential cost to your health?
- If your family is stuck on convenient, pre-packaged foods, I encourage you to sit down with a calculator, pen and paper and do a line-item price comparison for each meal for a week. Here is a spreadsheet example below.
- If you stick to buying the fresh foods that are on sale, manager-specials and in-season produce, you may be surprised at the cost savings. You will get much better quality as well as more healthy choices.
- Remember to buy extra fruit and vegetables when it is in-season and freeze it for those winter months.
- We are looking into having fresh, quality meat by buying a cow or pig straight from a farmer. Find family or friends who would like to split up the cost and quantity of buying a whole animal. Keep in mind that you will need extra freezer space for this option.
Now, I am by no means a purist. I don’t make everything homemade all the time, but I try to as often as possible. It is cheaper, healthier and safer for food allergies. On Friday, I will give a short run-down on “safe” prepackaged foods that I usually have in our home. Be sure to check in.
Are there any foods that you only buy pre-made? Are there foods that you choose to make from scratch? I’d love to hear your comments on this topic.
Next week: How Frugal Food Allergy Living is easier with a well-stocked pantry.