Frugal Gluten Free Cooking

This is a response from Annie, a HBHW reader, to a reader who posted a request asking for help with gluten free recipes. You can read the request and other comments here: “Desperate For Frugal Gluten Free Recipes.

I want to thank Annie for sharing all this valuable information. Because there was so much detail, I wanted to be sure anyone struggling trying to find truly frugal gluten free recipes would find the help they need. You may also want to check out our other gluten free cooking articles here: Gluten Free Living Articles on HBHW

You’ll see several articles written by my friend Mary Blackburn. If you click on the following link, you’ll also find her blog with a lot more information: Easy Gluten Free Living by Mary Blackburn

Again, thank you Annie for sharing these tips for finding frugal gluten free foods. I hope Annie’s gluten free ideas are helpful. Here they are:


For starters, search online “gluten free flour recipe”. These are combinations of various flours and binders to make a gluten free substitute of wheat flour. Try to find one that will suit what you can get, as sometimes ingredients are little obscure.

The best place to get the ingredients are bulk stores and Asian markets.

GF flour will be your answer to pies, pastries, cakes, cookies and biscuits.

Secondly, you need to make sure all your condiments etc are gluGFten free. Check labels – many spice mixes or seasonings contain a thickener/binder/etc that isn’t gluten free. You can just make your own with bulk spices, omitting the gluten-containing ingredient.

Many sauces have gluten-free options available. E.g. Soy sauce can be replaced with Tamari (a type of light [in flavour, not calories] soy popular in Japanese food.

Health food stores will be the best to find condiments and sauces, but these are often pricey. Read labels in the supermarket and look up recipes for the less time consuming stuff.

Thirdly, you need to plan meals. In some instances, you’ll want to make a GF replica (such as gravy with GF biscuits). But often, you can just replace the starch of the meal with something that’s GF. These can include: Rice, rice noodles, polenta (Italian corn mush, like hominy or fine grits – very cheap), potatoes, sweet potato, etc etc. So, you can serve your favourite meals with a GF starch.

For example:

Bolognese and wide cut rice noodles (find these in Asian markets – much cheaper than the supermarket and generally cheaper than store-bought gluten free pasta), Crockpot chicken (almost any dish) and rice etc.

Then there are ways to achieve the same taste in different ways. For example, if you love macaroni and cheese but gluten free pasta is expensive in your area, try making a cauliflower cheese bake served with hamburgers and salad. You still get a baked, cheesy dish, without paying for expensive GF pasta.

Or if you love lasagne, here’s a way to satisfy your craving without paying for lasagne sheets. Cook a batch of polenta. While still hot, spread out a baking tray so that it’s a level 1/2 inch sheet. Put in the fridge and allow to set. You now have a reasonably firm sheet pf polenta. Slice the polenta into smaller sheets to fit your baking dish, and use them in place of the lasagne sheets.

Further resources to use:

The internet – there are tons of people with GF diets, and many of them share tips, recipes and success and failures.

Books – these can sometimes be a pot luck, often they contain recipes that just say to use a pre-purchased GF substitute – not helpful! I suggest borrowing some from the library, to see if they’re good, and purchase them if you like them.

Low Carb diet resources – a lot of low carb diet resources have tips and recipes that don’t include gluten, as they have low carbs.

Remember, some things aren’t going to be exactly the same. Sometimes a recipe won’t translate to GF perfectly. But trial and error will get you there.

You can read even more on the topic of Frugal Gluten Free Living in our friend Mary Blackburn’s two part series right here:
Gluten-Free Frugally, Is It Possible Part 1
Gluten-Free Frugally, Is It Possible Part 2

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