13 Gluten-Free Meals You Can Make for Less Than $3
It’s completely possible to buy affordable, filling, healthy, (even gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or paleo) groceries to prepare delicious, and creative recipes for your family.
The average American family spends 12% of their total income on food, and the average meal “out” costs $12.75. Since food and groceries takes up such a large portion of your budget, we have some tips to get you started! Taking the time to plan meals out and save money can be a great step towards faithful stewardship and financial freedom.
Having a spending plan to know where your money is going each month is a crucial step towards biblical management of your finances (and the first step on Crown’s Money Map).
If you’re working to get out of debt, reach a savings goal, or just get your spending under control, it’s likely that you need to cut out some of the expenses in your budget.
And talk to your children about why you’re making these choices, and have them help you in the kitchen. Use something as routine as dinner to pass on the valuable lessons of planning, budgeting, and cooking.
Here are our favorite healthy meal plans you can make for LESS than $3 a person (and they happen to be gluten free!):
- Rice and Beans. The majority of the world eats only rice and beans for all of their meals. It’s one of the cheapest options, but still filling. Get creative with it and make a different variety each night – Italian, Cajun, Asian, Southern, Mexican, American. Pray for people in each of the countries/regions you’re making a recipe from.
- Sweet Potato Hash. This is my favorite recipe, but you can easily switch ingredients in or out. It’s simple, inexpensive, filling, and can be eaten for any meal.
- Arepas. This dish is traditionally Venezuelan or Colombian. Made from ground maize (corn) flour, they’re cooked on the stove to create a sort of English muffin meets pita pocket holder. Stuff with whatever you like (shredded rotisserie chicken, salsa, cheese, avocado, beans, lettuce, etc.) and enjoy!
Chicken Fried Rice. This is an easy and basic recipe, and should be a staple for your cheap, dinner recipes.
Salsa Chicken. This one is cheap AND requires almost no work, because it is cooked in the Crockpot. Just put chicken breasts (frozen or thawed) in the crockpot, season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder, and cover with a can of salsa. Let it cook and serve with rice, corn tortillas, or by itself!
BBQ. This is another cheap and easy Crockpot recipe. Put your meat of choice (chicken, pulled pork, brisket) in the Crockpot with a jar of BBQ sauce, let it cook all day, done! Skip the buns to keep it gluten-free, and make extra for leftovers!
Kebabs. This is a handy trick to make chicken (or other meat) last longer. Marinate in your favorite flavor, add your go-to veggies, and grill (or throw in the oven)!
Roasted Cauliflower Salad. This balanced salad comes in at under $2 per serving. Hard to beat!
Thai Quinoa Salad. Add or substitute any veggies you prefer. Since quinoa is high in protein, this is a great option for a meatless night.
Pasta. Pasta is a great go-to dinner to have on hand at all times. To make gluten-free and add some veggies, use spaghetti squash, or make noodles from spiralized zucchini, carrots, or squash.
Lemon Chicken and Green Beans. It’s as delicious as it sounds, and requires minimal ingredients.
Breakfast. Make one night a week breakfast night to mix it up and save money. Breakfast ingredients are usually fairly inexpensive, and you can make a lot of food for a little money.
Leftovers. A HUGE part of saving your grocery budget is embracing leftovers! If you have a big family, maybe this isn’t your reality. But try to buy in bulk to save, and cook extras for lunch or dinner the next day. Or throw your prepped meal in the freezer for another day. Two meals for the price of one is a great budget saver.
Other Grocery Tips:
- Try challenging yourself by committing one night a month to not buy any groceries, and use only what you already have to create a dinner. You may come up with some of your favorite recipes, and save money in the process.
- Have “Meatless Mondays”
- Buy in bulk and choose generic brands.
- Decide on one meal to have on hand for the days when “life happens”, and your veggies aren’t prepped, your meat isn’t thawed, and your day just hasn’t gone the way you planned. This will keep you from going out or ordering pizza in.
- Never go shopping without a list.
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
Denying yourself the indulgence of not planning, or spending extra on groceries is a big step towards financial freedom. Grocery planning or cooking may seem like a trivial part of our financial journey, but God cares about every detail of our lives, and is honored when we surrender the big and little things to Him.
“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
If you want to take the next step towards becoming a steward, enroll in Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study. You’ll learn what the Bible says about every area of your finances, and how to live as a steward every day.