Are you worried about blowing your groceries budget because you need to follow a Low FODMAP diet?
You may have recently been told to follow a low FODMAP diet to control your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and soon after you may have started to visit those supermarkets aisles with “Healthy Food” written all over and realised that your groceries budget is going to blow, if you are trying to replace your usual packaged food, with its low FODMAP version.
I get it and I thought exactly the same when I started to switch things like pasta, bread, crackers, cereals to their low FODMAP (= more expensive) equivalents.
It is possible to save on a low FODMAP diet
Eventually I learnt that switching normal junk food, to low FODMAP junk food wasn’t budget friendly nor healthy. Since then I have made some changes, which I would like to share with you, so that you can also keep your groceries shopping within budget and adopt a healthier low FODMAP Diet.
Here are my 7 tips to keep your low FODMAP diet on a budget:
1. Plan two weeks meals ahead of time and cook from scratch
I write my meal plans thinking about my low FODMAP needs and the food preference of the rest of the family, as they don’t have a food intolerance .
Even though I am now on a modified low FODMAP diet, as I can tolerate some high FODMAP food here and there, breakfasts, lunches and snacks for myself are still mostly low in FODMAPs, at least during the week. Dinner is a meal I prepare for everyone and therefore I’ll adapt some of our favourite recipes into low FODMAP ones, same for the week-end meals. These recipes are liked by everyone, but are also safe for me. Every so often I change some of the meals to give more variety. When I plan our meals, I also try to think how I can reuse some of the ingredients for the following meals, so that it is worth to buy a larger quantity of a certain fresh ingredient. For instance, buying 1 kg of minced meat, it’s usually cheaper than buying 1/2 kg twice, I’ll use half to make bolognaise sauce and within a couple of days, I use the other half for let’s say… tacos night.
If you are struggling with preparing tasty and healthy low FODMAP meals, you should check out Suzanne Perazzini’s Personalized Low FODMAP Meal Plan Service.
2. Do a stock-take of what’s already in the food storage and fridge
I used to properly clean my food cupboard once or twice a year, only to find out at the back of the shelves, that quite a few of the vegetable cans, flours, grains, nuts etc. had expired. Now I try to stay on top of it, by checking the shopping list against the pantry first and moving food which has the closest expiry date at the front of the shelf. Also I have learnt to keep my flour in the freezer in an airtight container, so that it will last for a very longtime, plus no risk of weevils, which is a bonus. 😀
I also check the fridge for items that need to be consumed soon like vegetables, eggs, cheese etc. and I try to improvise something that I can prepare as a snack or side dish, like a mixed salad or a vegetable ratatouille, a surprise omelette with cheese, chopped veggies and so on.
3. Go shopping with a list (and stick to it!)
I used to wander around the supermarket without a list, checking every shelf for inspiration, buying way too many food I didn’t need. In addition to that, if I was shopping on an empty stomach and hungry, I would be tempted to buy unhealthy and expensive treats. Now I stick to the list and I save hundreds of dollars every month and I can assure you that we are still well fed.
4. Buy smart
For food that has a long shelf-life, I can save a bit by buying in bulk or get a few extra items when they are on special, as long as it’s food that I was going to buy anyway, and not just because it is on sale (this means that if you were NOT planning to get those biscuits that are on sale, resist from the impulse of buying them). I always check the expiry date on everything and make sure I get the longest shelf-life as possible. Sometimes you may need to look at the very back of the shelves to find the items that have the longest expiry date.
5. Don’t be tempted by the healthy food isle
I’ve always known that packaged food is not healthy, but since being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I soon realised that most of the packaged food is also unsuitable for my condition. Unless you understand each ingredient on the package or the food is certified low FODMAP, (be careful with gluten free products, those may or may not be suitable), you have the risk of consuming high FODMAP food with the possibility of triggering your IBS symptoms. Even if in that special ‘healthy food’ section, you can find some suitable products, consider the high price and the health factor, are they really worth it? Couldn’t you try to make healthier/cheaper treats at home? Personally, the main thing I purchase from that aisle is low FODMAP pasta, which I buy regularly, but mainly when on special. I do well with rice and quinoa and I tend to have a lot more of those, these days, which is also cheaper.
6. Shop around
By switching to a cheaper supermarket chain for most of my family food, I have been able to save around 20-30% of my weekly shopping budget. Yes, I gave up some of the brand names, for supermarket brands. In most cases the quality is just as good, but I don’t pay for those labels marketing costs and fancy packaging.
7. Buy fresh produce and in season
I believe that generally most of us consume way too much processed food, while we should eat mainly healthier food like suitable fresh vegetables and fruits. Obviously there are a lot of vegetables and fruits that are high FODMAP, but there are still so many options of low FODMAP ones. If you still don’t have it, get the Monash University smartphone app for iPhone and for Androids smartphones and use it to find out what fresh food you can consume, also check the portion size, so that you don’t get over your FODMAP threshold.
Visit local markets, where fruits and veggies are fresher and usually cheaper than at the supermarkets’.
If you buy larger quantity than you are going to eat in the next few day, you can cook the produce, divide it in portion and freeze it for later. Also chopped fruits and vegetables make easy and healthy snacks for the whole family.
Well, these are some of the things I have changed in my diet and lifestyle, which are helping me to follow a healthy low FODMAP diet and stay on budget, I hope these tips were useful for you too.
On my private Facebook group and Low FODMAP Diet Facebook page (feel free to join/like them) I often read comments from people complaining on how expensive the low FODMAP diet is and how they cannot afford it, but by changing a few things, this diet should not be more expensive than a normal healthy diet.
To conclude I would like you to think about what changes you can make today to save on a low FODMAP diet.
Until next time, I hope you will stay healthy and on budget.
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