One of the hardest things about having to eat ‘free from’ is the devastating impact it has on your shopping bill. Many of the foods are three times the price of ‘normal’ foods. If you are like me, and decide to try and make as much as you can from scratch, you can still feel an impact as for some reason, even store cupboard staples such as tinned foods seem to be going up in price from week to week.
So what can you do? Hit the ‘world food’ sections – that’s my money saving tip of the day. Yesterday, I went to our local Sainsbury’s. I usually avoid it, as it is even more expensive than our local Waitrose, but it does have the widest range of Free From foods, and is the only store around here that sells Zac’s favourite breakfast cereal, breadsticks and biscuits. So every so often, usually after pay day, I trek over there to get the essentials. I am not that disciplined though and end up putting in a lot more than just the essentials and I always end up spending more than I planned.
But, I haven’t been paid yet, so went round in a much more calculated manner yesterday and carefully studied every price on every shelf. As usual, I made my way to the world food aisle for my coconut milk as it is a store cupboard essential for us and always cheaper on the Afro-Caribbean section than elsewhere in store. Today was no different.
Coconut milk, in various tins, and as various brands pops up all over ‘World Foods’. Today, I spotted one of my favourite brands next to ‘India’. India is also a good hunting ground for the gluten free cook as a lot of the ‘alternative’ flours are staples in India and widely consumed and therefore easy to get here now and very cheap.
I spotted Natco Gram Flour at £1.29 for a 1kg bag. Bargain. Gram flour is made from besan, similar to a chick pea, but with a lower GI – and of course extremely versatile and regularly put forward by GF chefs as an excellent alternative flour.
As well as the gram flour, I spotted corn meal and semolina flour all at the same price as the gram flour for a 1kg bag. These are also excellent alternatives for a gluten free cook.
On the shelf above the flours I found a range of tinned foods by another great brand – KTC. They make great value cooking oils and other ingredients too.
The tinned chopped tomatoes were 39p a can, so were the chick peas, the kidney beans were only 37p. What a result. So I bought several tins of each. Just to make myself feel even better about my bargains of the day, I wandered to the ‘normal’ tinned foods aisle and had a look at the prices there.
Napolina brand tinned chopped tomatoes, same size tin as the KTC, were £1.25!!! The Cirio brand was on an offer, a bargain at just £1.10!!!!!!! The Napolina chick peas were 79p a can, and so were the kidney beans. The Blue Dragon coconut milk was a staggering £1.99 a can. So I left the store with mixed feelings, very happy to have saved so much money by scouring the store for the less well recognised brands – but utterly furious that the stores think it is acceptable to charge so much for certain brands of store cupboard staples.
Over the years I have tried all of these brands and there is absolutely no difference in volume or quality – so please, don’t be afraid to track them down and start buying these instead. These naughty supermarkets get enough of our hard earned cash, it is nice to know that we can still make the odd saving – if we just know where to look. Be sure to pass this on – not just to your GF/DF friends, but to anyone who regularly buys tinned tomatoes too. Sainsbury’s and Napolina – you should be ashamed.