Treatment Guide

How Expensive Is a Gluten-free Diet? Eating GF on Food Stamps

Gluten-free diets are often a cornerstone treatment in Autism and developmental therapy. 


Eating gluten-free is both cost effective and healthy. Photo: Global Crisis News

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, or G.A.P.S as it’s called, relies on the idea that in healing the gut (that is, dysbiosis — the state of microbial imbalance) through whole foods and natural lifestyle choices, many neurological conditions can be eased or cured.

  G.A.P.S. diets purportedly have the potential to heal everything from depression to mental fog, dyslexia, to, of course, Autism.  It is the idea that we truly are what we eat and our brain and stomach are inextricably linked. 

One of the hallmarks of the diet is the elimination of common allergens like casein, soy, and gluten.  For many parents of children with developmental delays, however, following a gluten-free/casein-free/soy-free diet can seem overwhelming and expensive.  That’s whyTACA, the Talk About Curing Autism foundation, conducted their own informal study to determine just how expensive a GF/CF/SF diet really is for the typical family of four.

By following a budget based upon what the average family of four would receive in food stamps, monthly, TACA designated $396.00 to grocery shop.  Only foods that were casein, gluten, and soy-free were purchased and the monthly menu can be found here.  Not only were they able to feed a family of four on the money allotted, but were actually able to come in $77 under budget.  And they probably could have saved even more money by omitting the specialty gluten-free baking mixes (pancakes, bread crumbs, cornbread, bread) stuck to naturally gluten-free grains and legumes (rice, lentils, beans and peas, etc.), and avoided animal meat in favor of other protein sources.  All in all, TACA’s informal study is just one indication that eating gluten-free does not have to be expensive, and indeed, if done correctly is very cost-effective.

Author Information: Liz Schau, Tampa, FL
Liz Schau, Health Writer

About Liz Schau

Liz Schau is a health writer whose focus is in nutrition, as well as natural and green living. She is both the resident GreenGirl for -- a site aimed at raising self-esteem in females of all ages, as well as a columnist for on which she writes "How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass" -- an irreverent guide to better thyroid health. She can be reached at


  1. Great article Liz! Its always best to eat food in its most natural state. Its more healthy and less expensive. Just like a simple apple, lentils or beans. However, there is always a time for a treat, especially when always having to follow a careful eating plan.
    One can still prepare a gluten-free brownie mix, have a few brownies one night for dessert, and freeze the brownies that are left for another day.
    Yes, and by planning out the weeks meals in advance, one can save time and money. Oh, and its good your reminded everyone about the “other” protein sources out there!
    Thanks Liz!

  2. I think that’s a great resource with some good ideas for food choices. Making things from plainer, more basic ingredients definitely saves money. I have no idea how we’d afford feeding our family of four on the gluten free diet otherwise.
    But I’ll admit to being disappointed once I looked at the recipes. Following their menu, I would still be spending quite a bit more money than they claimed, primarily because while a person on a generic GF diet might be able to simply buy ‘naturally’ gluten free products, quite a few of us can’t. With modern processing and shipping methods, ‘naturally gluten free’ foods often contain far more gluten than the 20ppm or less that many Celiacs need in order to stay well (as the recent study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association demonstrated).
    And this means that eating truly gluten free is still going to be a price increase for most of us. Rice, beans, and lentils are cheaper than buying premade. Gluten free rice, beans, and lentils? Much harder to find on the cheap.

  3. Well, I am not sure about this . I like to have organic vegetables and fruits. Organic chicken is not cheap. Lots of bland recipes here. No thanks.

  4. My food bill has doubled since finding out I have Celiac and that’s just buying basics. This is very hard to believe. I agree with Pamela.

    My grocery store sells a box of GF crackers for almost $8. A box of Triscuits is less than $4. That’s just one example…

  5. The price of Gluten Free breads is outrageous and you get what you pay for. Some of the older brands of mostly rice breads are not that tasty and have to be toasted or they fall apart when you try to make a sandwich. The loaves are small – less than half of a loaf of wheat bread – with prices from $4 and up. The newer, good tasting breads are upwards to $8 a loaf. A new brand has hit the market that costs about $5 a loaf and doesn’t have to be toasted, weighs less than half what the $8 loaf weighs – so ultimately, it is the highest priced bread at $5. Elizabeth Barbone’s cookbook has fantastic bread recipes, but I don’t always feel up to baking. Other than that – bread is probably my only complaint. There are lots of basic foods that certainly have no gluten in them and I’ve done just fine eating GF with food stamps and I do buy organic produce.

  6. I agree that this menu is illogical even more so when you are talking kids………..I cant even think of any kid who eat black bean, corn, and ham soup!!!!! Even then they say rice and veggie stuffed peppers………Do they have bionic kids???

    My kids were older when they found out they needed to avoid dairy and gluten so they were already “smart” to the world of dairy and gluten loaded foods.

    I do almost all my own cooking at home and I will tell you first hand that buying chemical loaded crap is MUCH cheaper then organic and GF foods. Sad but true!!!

  7. Please ! I need idea’s I am a single mom the works ft. I have 5 kids at home and all have been or currently on behavior meds. My 15 y/o son has asbergers and a very poor diet a daughter w/ mood disorder and 2 boys who are adhd I want them off the meds yes we go to counsling and behavior modification , but I want them off the meds and my 15 to be healthy We rec. $700 a month in fs is gluten free the way to go??

  8. The monthly menu isn’t showing up. Very interested. Please fix. Thank you.

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