For gluten-free, casein-free and grain-free diets, prepared foods and even ingredients can be expensive. Nutrient dense foods like grass-fed meat and eggs raised on pasture are also more costly. How do you eat these important foods while remaining on a budget? It’s not as hard as you think! This is one of the top questions I get, but you do not need to let budget prevent you from getting your family the healthy and nutrition foods they need. In fact, by following the suggestions below you may save even more money than before you started a special diet! Here are some of my favorite ways to save money without spending hours in the kitchen: 1. Make your own flour blends and bake from scratch. Flour blends and mixes can be expensive. Baking from scratch saves time and money. Buy flours in bulk and keep them in the freezer, then mix them into small batches of flour blends. You will save time and money. 2. Buy eggs straight from the farmer. You can save 25% or more buying straight from the farmer, even over farmers’ market prices. 3. Invest in a chest freezer and buy in bulk. A chest freezer is one of the best investments you can make. You can pick up a freezer new or used to save money. Families on special diets often have an increased need for freezer space to store things like gluten-free flours, nuts, meat, and more. Buy in bulk to save money and store it in your freezer. 4. Buy half a cow or go into a wholesale/coop order with other families. Buying larger quantities on meat and animal foods straight from the farmer can save you 25% over smaller orders, and up to 50% compared with natural food stores. 5. Go to a farm and pick your own. Not only is this a load of fun and encourages eating fruits and vegetables, but you can save money when you pick and purchase in season. 6. Make your own fermented foods. One pint of sauerkraut can cost up to $8 a pint, and one bottle of kombucha over $3. You can make both of these fermented foods at home for about 1/10 the price. Neither are time consuming to make. In about one hour, you can make these and clean up—give them a couple weeks on the counter and nature does the rest. Once in the refrigerator they last for months, particularly sauerkraut can last for 6 months. 7. Look for your local “unsexy” farmers markets. The fancy ones often have larger fees and attract more exclusive farms and products. More local, “down and dirty” (pun intended) markets have great buys—often ½ or even 1/3 the price of others. I have one of top 10 farmers’ markets in the country and while I love it for it’s quality meat, raw food concoctions, and bakery quality fruit—there is another down the street that is missing the fanfare and fancy dishes, but has super great deals. 8. Try transitional if you can’t get organic. I was able to find transitional almonds (not sprayed with pesticides while converting to an organic farm) for $4 pound. They are truly raw, unlike 100% of those found in the store, and are ½ to 1/3 the price. 9. Barter with your farmer. Many farmers need help on the farm or would love to trade food or other goods. One of my friends trades homemade sprouted granola with her farmer for raw milk. 10. Go in with friends or join buying coop. Many companies will give wholesale pricing for coops that place “wholesale-sized” orders. You can either join an established coop or start your own. I belong to a coop that buys freeze-dried snacks, non-toxic body care products, and more. 11. Dehydrate. Invest in a dehydrator or score one at a yard sale. You can make beef jerky, dried fruit, and other foods—particularly when you have bulk or in season buys. It is a good cost savings and easy way to store food. 12. Make your own ghee. Ghee can be pricey and it’s easy to make your own. You can save 50% by making it yourself. 13. Whole pasture-raised chickens can be expensive. For bone broth, save and store bones from the roasted carcass and your vegetable scraps such as the ends of carrots or the leafy part of celery in the freezer and use for stock when you have accumulated enough. 14. Plant a tree or a garden. Fruit trees are a great way to have delicious, organic fruit for free! A garden is also a great way to save money. If you’re new to gardening or do not have a big plot of land plant herbs like basil in pots indoors or tomatoes and garlic on a patio. 15. Can your own – if you or a family member ends up with a tree full of plums or a bushel of tomatoes, can extras for off-season. Share how you save money on a special diet.