We’ve been 24 hours without gluten or casein now. My oldest son is showing a little bit of response this morning. Youngest Son is not enjoying the dietary changes but is still being a relatively good sport. Oldest Son seems to like the new food, especially Oriental Rice Noodles. They are the new favorite. So at least there is food he can eat. He won’t starve. Phew! That was one of my fears.
I learned a few lessons at the supermarket yesterday. First is that my nearest Kroger has the largest GF selection in the Valley. That’s good to know, and convenient for me too. I met the manager of the Special Diet Section yesterday and he showed off his area. Nice young man, who obviously takes pride in his work. I think his mom has Celiac, or at least some family member, so he has the inside scoop on all the GF products.
He also has sales and a bargain basket of reduced products. The bargain basket had saving of 70% to 80% so I chose a lot of things from it, to try out. Specifically some baking mixes. Cornbread, chocolate cake, yellow cake, pancake and waffle mix etc. I did the calculating and the mixes were much cheaper than some of the ingredients that go into them. I praised the Lord the whole time, for providing such abundance.
The biggest money-saving lesson I learned is that anything labeled Gluten-Freein large letters costs at least twice as much as a similar gluten-free product that doesn’t proclaim it on the box in giant-sized print. For instance, GF chocolate chips that shout their status from the label cost $4.59 for 10-ounces–or about 46¢/oz. After reading the label to make sure they were dairy-free too, I decided they were way outside of my budget, and resolved to find cheaper alternatives. In the regular baking section of the market I looked over the chocolate chips and was happy to see a wide variety. I picked up the most expensive ones and read the label. They contained milk, so were out of the question. Next I picked up the cheapest ones and read their label. Their list of ingredients was the exact same a the expensive GF variety. A quick check of their price told me they cost $1.29 for 12-ounces–or about 11¢/oz. Obviously this is a wiser use of limited funds. (BTW, the brand is Kroger’s discount VALUE brand, for anyone who might be interested.)
Then a funny thing happened in my brain. For a moment I considered paying$4.59 just for the peace of mind that those big letters GLUTEN-FREE gave me. For a split second, I waswilling to pay extra for that reassuring package label. Then I came back to myself and re-read the cheap chocolate chips label to be sure it truly was GFCF. I’m happy to report that it still was, and that they taste just like regular chocolate chips, which in fact, they are.
So my first lesson is that if I’m willing to read lables myself, and trust my own ability to interpret them, then I can save a bundle. How cool is that?! I admit that at first I didn’t really want to trust myself in this regard. As a fully mortal woman, I will make mistakes now and then, missing some of the sneaky words like malt, which comes from barley, and whey, which is dairy. The large quantities of money I save though, will make up for these occasional mistakes, and still provide big savings. After some prayer I decided that I may not always read labels perfectly, but I’m willing to take that chance in exchange for lower prices. At home I can always read the labels again before I prepare anything, as a stop-gap before any offending foods make it into the kid’s diet.
One of the greatest bargains I found was rice noodles in the Oriental Section of the market. They’re less than half the price of special GF rice spaghetti and have an excellent texture. They’ll work for spaghetti, Lo Mein, and noodle stir-fries. Plus the kids love them! I’ll bet their even cheaper at my local Oriental market.
The next big lesson I learned is that most of the grains and starches I will be using are over-priced in my local area. I bought small quantities of some things, like Amaranth and Quinoa, Potato Starch and Tapioca Starch, Brown Rice Flour & White Rice flour, just to use them for the next 2 weeks. If we decide to stay with this way of eating, then I will definitely look for cheaper alternatives on-line. Whole grains are often cheaper than flours, so I’ll buy the grains and grind them myself in the future. I have a magnificent Oriental Food Store nearby that has giant sacks of brown rice for very little per pound. And parboiled rice (my favorite white variety) for very little too. So that is where I’ll get my rice for grinding into flour. It will cost as little as 15¢/lb instead of $1.50/lb, which was the price of the most expensive rice flour I saw yesterday. Eeep! That is expensive flour!
As for menu planning and meals, the cooking is much the same as we do already. Prepare foods from scratch using the most basic and inexpensive ingredients. I’m looking forward to learning some more about baking with GF grains. I’ve always enjoyed baking and it will be fun to expand my horizons.
To help the boys feel a little more secure about meals, I’ve written menus up on the white board, so they know what they’re eating next. It alleviates anxiety that is a normal part of changing one’s diet. My oldest, Tom, is happy with the changes. My youngest is tolerating them with a cooperative spirit. So far, so good.