5 Ways to Save Money If You Suffer From a Food Allergy

by David Bakke, Contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance

If someone in your household suffers from a food allergy, you're more than familiar with how pricey things like doctor bills and medications can get. And, chances are, you also have to contend with the high price tags of gluten-free and dairy-free groceries, as well as other allergy-conscious products. These expenses are unavoidable, especially if the allergy is serious, but it doesn't mean you have to pay full-freight for them. With just a little research, you can keep your grocery costs down and keep the health and nutrition of your family front and center.

1. Purchase a Juicer

If the allergy your family is contending with is fruit- or vegetable-related, you can save a good deal of money - and hassle - by purchasing your own juicer. Control exactly what juices your family drinks without having to worry about any "secret" ingredients. For a good deal, search for a juicer on an online grocery store like eBay or Amazon, where you're likely to get a better price than you would from a national retailer. You can use your juicer to whip up fruit smoothies or vegetable juices – and you can even keep your vegetable pulps to use in soups for extra fiber and texture.

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2. Naturalize your Diet

If your food allergy is not produce-based, consider switching your diet to one focused more on fresh fruits and vegetables. You can save significant money and serious time by not having to research every ingredient label you encounter, and you can feed your family a healthier diet in the process. Check your area for a farmers market or a local farm, which can provide you with tons of fresh options at rock bottom prices.

3. Research the Internet for Coupons

Many allergy-conscious manufacturers offer printable coupons right on their own websites that you can use to save cash. Check out SoSoDelicious for dairy-free coupons, Amy's for organic food discounts, and EnjoyLife for deals on a variety of friendly foods. Just make sure your local grocer accepts Internet coupons, as some don't – Publix is a great place to start, if the chain is in your area.

4. Double-Check Ingredient Labels

I've had to deal with food allergies in my family for many years, and I still find myself coming home from the grocery store with an item that I find to be unusable upon second inspection. Until identifying what foods are acceptable and what aren't becomes second nature to you, take the time to read those ingredient labels thoroughly when you're in the store – purchasing food items your household can't use is the biggest money waste of all.

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5. Create Your Own Recipes

Nothing beats home cooking when it comes to combating a food allergy. Buy all your raw items from the grocery store or farmers market, research the Internet for creative ideas, or even invent your own recipes. For example, if your child is allergic to gluten, try blending raw bananas and eggs in a food processor (one egg for every two bananas), cook them in a lasagna dish at 300 degrees for an hour, top with whipped cream, and you've got a four-star dessert. Draw on your creativity and you can come up with a wealth of allergy-conscious recipes.

Final Thoughts

Always remember to get yourself or your family member tested regularly to see if the allergy in question is still present. Very often we outgrow our allergies, and you can save the most money of all by discovering that you no longer have to restrict your diet. Dealing with a food allergy is important to the health and safety of your family, but if you approach it intelligently, you don't have to spend a ton of money to do it right.

What other ways do you save on allergy-conscious foods?

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David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance where he shares tips for saving money on everyday expenses.

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