How to Save on Groceries When You Have a Food Intolerance

If you or a loved one has a food allergy or intolerance, you may be frustrated by your escalating grocery bill. 

In my own family, both my daughter and I have a dairy intolerance, and I just recently I found out I also have a soy intolerance.  When we first discovered our dairy intolerance nine months ago, we struggled with trying to keep our grocery bill low.

Now that it has been nearly a year, we have discovered some strategies to rein in our grocery expenditures.

Don’t buy substitutions.

Initially, when I found out we couldn’t have dairy, I tried to find substitutions so we could continue to eat the way we had previously.   Yes, there is dairy free cheese and soy yogurt on the market, but the price is high.

Almost anything that is made as a substitution is more expensive than the real thing.  For a month I tried to buy dairy free ice cream, but it is $6 a container.  Buying dairy free substitutions easily added $20 to $25 to our grocery bill a week, or $80 to $100 a month.

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Now, both my daughter and I have given up on substitutions.

I simply don’t eat cheese of any type.  I don’t eat yogurt or ice cream.

healthy salad

How do you save on groceries when you have a food intolerance?

Instead, we have cooked many more stir fries as they rarely involve dairy.  We have given up on many of our old dairy laden casseroles.  We don’t eat sweets much either, but when we do, we spend a little extra to buy a cupcake at a vegan bakery as a special treat.

My daughter had a vegan cupcake for her birthday, and she was happy as can be.

Write Companies for Coupons.

True, it is harder to find coupons for companies that make products for intolerances and allergies.  When I find a company I really like, I e-mail them and tell them of my intolerance and how much I enjoy their product.  They almost always follow up and send coupons.

Stock Up When There Are Sales.

My daughter and I drink almond milk.  It typically runs $3 to $3.50 per carton.  When there is a sale, I try to stock up.  Recently it was on sale for $2.50 per carton, and I happened to have .55 off coupons, bringing my total cost to $1.95 per carton.  This is 33 to 40% cheaper than it usually is, so I bought 8 cartons.  Yes, my refrigerator is packed with almond milk cartons, but we are stocked with enough milk to last us at least 5 to 6 weeks.

Hopefully, before I use them all up I will find another sale.

Coping with a food allergy or intolerance can affect many aspects of your life, but hopefully if you use some of the strategies mentioned here, it doesn’t have to impact your grocery budget too severely.

How have you saved on groceries when you have food intolerances? 

About Melissa

Melissa blogs at Mom's Plans about learning to live a fulfilling life on less. She has quit her day job and now blogs and writes, in addition to taking care of her three kids.

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  1. Stir fries sound good. Yes, we take a lot of things for granted, but there is more thasn enough variety in the world. It gets tough mostly when you are not the one in control of the food preparation.

  2. I agree with you substitutes can be expensive but I also discovered that some cheeses such as cabot cheddar that are aged for at least 6 months or more do not have lactose and can be tolerated by most lactose intollerant people. Gruyère also doesn’t have lactose in it. The more aged the better.

    You can also buy soy, rice and almond milk by the case. Store brands are cheaper and you can buy the type that doesn’t have to be refigerated until it is opened. It lasts for a year. I recently switched to lactaid milk instead of soy. It has a much longer life than regular milk.

    Instead of stir fries and casseroles you can always do grilled meats and veggies. Also instead of buying the substitutes you can always make your own sour cream with tofu and lemon.

  3. LeslieintheGarden says:

    I don’t eat soy, dairy (because of both lactose and casein), or grains of any kind … and the biggest problem is so many manufactured foods have at least one of these. Which means pretty much everything is homemade, from soup through to dessert. While an adjustment, it’s turned out to be cheaper and healthier. It requires menu planning and a love affair with a crockpot :-) I don’t drink almond milk as a substitute for milk, partly because I never developed the habit of milk as a beverage. For you, something that approximates an ice cream treat, I stir chilled coconut milk into frozen berries for a soft serve texture.

    • I can’t imagine how hard it must be going out these days. Everything seems to have some kind of warning that it makes contact with some other food. But it’s great to hear preparing your own food ends up cheaper. I’ve found that as well, and certainly healthier too.

      Thanks for the ice cream suggestion.