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Gluten Free on a Budget – Tips and Cornmeal Pancake Recipe

Looking for tips on how to make gluten free work on a budget? Here are a few tips, and a recipe for inexpensive, tasty, cornmeal pancakes.

So, you’re on a budget, making every dollar stretch and just making it work, when suddenly you’re hit with a diagnosis of Celiac Disease and you need to go gluten free. You cruise the gluten free aisle of your grocery store and contemplate selling your car so you can afford to buy bread. How do you make gluten free work when you’re already on a tight budget? Here are a couple of tips and a recipe that most will be able to afford to make.

gluten free on a budget - tips from

Buy Naturally Gluten Free Foods

Food that don’t contain wheat, rye, barley or spelt or ingredients made with these grains are naturally gluten free.

Need some help reading labels? You can find out the Other Names for Gluten by Clicking HERE

You already buy many of them. Fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, cheddar cheese, rice and grits are all naturally gluten free.

For a larger list of gluten free foods you can eat, click here!

Rethink Sandwiches

Sandwiches seem to be a regular part of the North American diet. They’re usually an easy meal if you’re on a budget. Unfortunately, gluten free bread isn’t as inexpensive as that giant loaf of white gluten-filled bread and so sandwiches disappear from the menu. Instead of bread sandwiches, try using an inexpensive, naturally gluten free corn tortilla to hold your sandwich filling (Always read labels!! Very rarely corn tortillas will contain wheat. They’re usually marketed as “soft” corn tortillas). Try a “naked” sandwich with no bread at all (this works best for burgers or meat), Make egg or tuna salad and use it as a vegetable dip. Or make a “bowl” using rice as a base and putting your sandwich fillings on top.

Trade in that Pasta

That amazing dinner dollar stretcher, gluten-filled pasta, is no longer an option on a gluten free diet. Gluten free pasta isn’t as expensive as it once was, but it’s still pricier than its gluten filled counterpart. Thankfully, there are a few budget friendly gluten free starch options to include in your diet. Rice, potatoes, grits and polenta (boiled cornmeal) are all inexpensive and can be used in casseroles and stir fries to stretch meat and vegetables. If you absolutely need pasta, check out Asian grocers in your area. You can usually buy rice noodles for much less than gluten free pasta in the grocery store.

This easy rice bake is a real budget stretcher! Use chickpeas instead of chicken to make it even more cost effective.

Have Ice Cream for Dessert

Packaged gluten free baked goods can be pricey. If you need something sweet, grab some gluten free ice cream or chocolate. (Read labels!! Ice cream with brownies, cake batter, or cookie dough will probably contain gluten.)

Have a Meatless Monday

I wish someone had told me about legumes a long time ago! They’re a cheap and naturally gluten free protein alternative. I make lentil soup, chickpea curry, or just whip up a batch of spicy pinto beans to throw into rice or pasta dishes. If you buy and cook dried beans, you’ll save the most money, but cans of beans are also really cheap.

This is my curry lentil soup recipe. The veggies are built right in! Serve it over rice for a complete meal.

Find my Spicy Pinto Beans here. I make the up in a pressure cooker and toss them in rice dishes or serve them in tacos.

This is the sauce I use for chickpea or potato curry. It’s super tasty and makes a lot of food!

Learn a Couple of Budget Friendly Gluten Free Recipes

Like this cornmeal pancake recipe. This one goes over well in our house, especially if I add some mini chocolate chips. They taste like a sweet corn muffin and make a great breakfast or snack (or lunch, or dinner, we’re pretty relaxed around here). Cornmeal is cheap. And this recipe includes only things most people already have in the house, no expensive specialty flours.

For another budget friendly cornmeal recipe, click here for garlic herb polenta

Gluten Free on a Budget, cornmeal pancake recipe and money saving tips from
gluten free cornmeal pancakes from

Gluten Free Cornmeal Pancakes

a closeup of gluten free cornmeal pancakes on a plate with a strawberry

These gluten free cornmeal pancakes are a tasty way to stretch your budget

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T Baking powder
  • 2 T butter OR 2 T vegetable oil and 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Whisk all ingredients together until batter is smooth.
  2. Preheat a skillet to 325F or a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Grease skillet and pour batter by ⅓ cupfuls.
  4. Cook pancakes until the edges are firm and the top is bubbly.
  5. Gently flip pancakes and cook the other side until golden.
  6. Remove from the skillet and serve with syrup or honey.

Hey Friend! I'm so glad you dropped by! I'm Jodi, I'm a wife, mom of four, homeschooler and world traveler. I've been gluten free for almost 20 years and I share tips and recipes especially for gluten free beginners on

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