How We Shop and Cook Gluten and Dairy Free on a Budget

Hey there all! I started Zevy Joy with the intentions of sharing our life as we lived on a budget and more. While some has changed since then, we still try our very best to budget our grocery supplies each month. Now having a kiddo with real dietary needs, we are attempting to shop and cook gluten and dairy free on a budget. And today I wanted to share just how we do it!

I wanted to make this post as simple as possible and not too overwhelming as dietary needs can be VERY overwhelming… Do what you can, start small and don’t stress on what you can’t make happen overnight. Of course with any of these types of subjects, nutritionists and professional doctors can be of great importance.

So here we go…!

I recently went to the store this last weekend and was entranced by all the beautiful fall produce. I picked up the necessities and found so much joy in these sweet simple pleasures. I laid them out to share with you here and they are a very important piece to the gluten/dairy free puzzle!


Gluten and diary free is easiest with the basics and most cost effective as well. I am talking about meats, fruits and vegetables. Meals centered and focused around these food groups are perfect for those needing to be gluten/dairy free. Even though it may seem that buying fresh is most expensive I find this to be the opposite. Especially when you can buy great options (including organic) at Costco these days.

I love filling up our baskets and finding new options for the kids to sample and sometimes I am surprised by what they find as a favorite new variety of produce!

And of course I can’t leave out the occasional bunch of fresh greenery or flowers. This can get pricey too, but in truth, I have found that you can’ find more affordable options that what is available at Trader Joes. Next…


I am slowly building up my stash of flours, nuts, oats and more so that I can make my muffins, granolas, etc… I even have our smoothie fixings out in bulk and ready to make fresh breakfasts in the morning. Speaking of have you heard of this PBfit Powdered Peanut Powder?! We use it in our smoothies or yogurt and just love it!

When you can make things from scratch it saves a bundle. I have learned to make macaroni and cheese (sauce included) and it costs a fraction of the small $5.00 boxes I can buy otherwise. I hope to share that recipe soon using corn pasta and a nutty cheese sauce!

I will say though, that this is just starting to be a possibility for our family after nearly 9 months of trying out this new nutritional change. At first we spent more because I was trying everything, finding our favorites and just making it work! I had grace for myself that this was a challenge and we weren’t going to get it all “right” from the start.


Believe it or not, you can find quite a few gluten/dairy free staples in bulk. Like the cereal up above… I find big bags of these Panda Puffs at Whole foods. We mix them in with our Cheerios for a little treat on the weekends and it is worth every penny.


This is a tough one as it takes practice, but it is something we have done for a couple years now (read about it here) and I can’t go back. It saves money, time and lots of energy. I have accumulated a list of what we use each month and I buy ahead (minus the fresh produce). As seen above, this is a glimpse of our once a month “dairy” purchases and some of our favorite products (which I will share below).


With packing school lunches or providing snacks to my growing kiddos, I have found this tip a bit challenging at times. Yet, it is one of the most important. Prepping bags of air popped popcorn, or potato chips, nuts and so much more is one of the most budget friendly things you can do. Buying all of those things individually packaged costs so much more.

And when you can’t make it, don’t feel bad when you have to buy it (at least until you can figure out how to do it yourself ;), haha). Here is a list of some of our very favorite products that we still have yet to make on our own…

  • Trader Joes’ GF pumpkin bread and muffin baking mix, Cinnamon Apple Sticks, Pretzel Twists, Frozen Pizza Crusts, Toaster Waffles.
  • Kinnikinnick’s K-Toos (I love this brand for graham crackers too!) Especially helpful when making recipes that call for these sweet treats.
  • So Delicious Cashew Milk Ice-cream and Coco-Whip
  • Free Sandwich Loaf

I really hope that helps any of you who may be needing to be or choosing to go gluten and dairy free! Like I said, this has taken nearly 9 months to get comfortable with how to shop gluten/dairy free on a budget. It takes practice and it takes time, so don’t give up!

Thanks so much for stopping by all!

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  1. Good, informative post. I try hard to eat gluten free so there was a lot of info in here. Next time at TJ’s I’ll try that pumpkin bread mix. Have you used the G-free flours? Any luck with them? Love your blog my friend!

    1. Susan you are so sweet, thank you! I meant to add that on here about the GF flours, and so far, I am really liking Bob’s Red Mill version as well as the almond flour at Costco (although I find this a little tricker with conversions). I have yet to try the TJ versions of flour but that is next on my list… Thanks again Susan!

  2. Alternative diets are indeed a culinary adventure, aren’t they? I like to think of these shifts in diet as an opportunity to spread my cooking and baking wings. Our household is dairy and soy free, so we have found that coconut and almond milk work for us. For nine years we were vegetarian, but found we needed to incorporate chicken back into the mix.

    When baking with coconut milk (the carton type), my magic to make things like muffins, pancakes and scones taste more traditional is to incorporate or add more vanilla extract. It works like a dream. It is especially helpful to offset the flavor of olive oil I use as the fat in such recipes.

    Since I now have the bandwidth, I cook and bake from scratch all the time. It is fascinating to see how the contents of our pantry, fridge and freezer have changed as a result. As a bonus, our trash and recycling have been reduced significantly.

    My happiest accomplishment is venturing into the world of yeast bread baking. Making Ciabatta from scratch, for example, amazes me to no end. My new goal is to tackle yeast bread that requires kneading, yikes!

    As you so wisely point out, taking small steps is the way to go when venturing into a new food lifestyle. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and spend too much trying to make a quantum leap.

    Thank you so much for your fine post. Cheers, Ardith

    1. Ardith, thank you so much for the kind reply and the information! I will defiantly try out the vanilla trick when baking now too! I appreciate you stopping by and your support ~

  3. I have been gluten free my whole life and dairy free for half my life – I love to cook and make everything from scratch. No packets for me and yes, despite what people say, it is cheaper! Not sure if you can get it where you live but I have recently discovered Macadamia Milk (I am in Australia) and it is so much creamier than almond milk and absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Sarah, that is so true! And I have not heard of Macadamia Milk, but I will certainly look for it! Thank you for the recommendation and for stopping by~

  4. Thanks, Sarah for these great tips. I’m on day 17 of Whole 30 with my family and I’m learning now how to eat! All of your insights have helped me when it comes time to reintroduce the food groups. It’s a work in progress and so am I!

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