Name: Rachel
Location: Overland Park, Kansas
Age: 42
Number of people in your household: Four (my husband, myself, and our two school-age children, including one person with celiac disease, so we are strictly gluten-free in our home)
Occupation: I’m a cooking instructor and my husband is a software engineer
Where you shopped: Sprouts Farmers Market and Costco
Weekly food budget: $250
Amount spent: $227.63

I only went to Sprouts and Costco this week, although I usually go to Aldi and Trader Joe’s too. It’s hard to get everything for a gluten-free household at the same store. I look for sales and try to know what is available at each grocer so I don’t have to visit ALL of them.

What’s your grocery strategy? 

I try to complement what I already have at home, and always look for sales. 

I have an idea of the meals I want to make for the week, but modify them based on what’s on sale and what looks delicious at the grocery store as I’m shopping (when I go in looking for kale, but end up leaving with Swiss chard because it looks better, for example). I also try to use what I have on hand in my freezer and pantry. 

There aren’t that many restaurants nearby that can handle feeding someone with celiac safely because cross-contamination is a huge issue, so we cook mostly at home and are professional picnickers and snack haulers. Because we are so careful with where it is safe for us to eat out it’s super special when we get the chance. Gluten-free prepared foods and frozen foods in grocery stores are usually pretty expensive as well, so they are also a treat.

Total: $88.84 (includes $7.41 tax)

Total: $138.79 (includes $11.36 tax)

Wednesday: Gluten-Free Sheet Pan Pancakes and Chicken Sausage, Leftover Tacos and Pesto Pasta, and Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I’m beginning this adventure very jet-lagged from a recent trip, so I start my morning with several cups of coffee. I make a lunch of warmed leftover tacos in a thermal food container for my son who is gluten-free. My other son eats school lunch, so I don’t pack one for him.

I notice a bowl of sort of wrinkly apples on the counter, so I grate them up and add them to gluten-free pancake batter with some cinnamon. I bake the pancakes in the oven on a sheet pan so I can shower instead of standing over a griddle. We all eat apple cinnamon sheet pan pancakes and chicken sausages and I get the boys to school JUST in time.  

I have a lot of recipes to write and paperwork to catch up on, so I get to work on that at home, then around 1 p.m. my husband and I eat leftover pasta with pesto for lunch. We watch a rerun of Scrubs while we eat it, and I notice my jet-lag is seriously catching up with me. 

After lunch I head to Sprouts Market. We need a lot of produce and they usually have good deals — especially on Wednesdays when the sales for the week before and the week ahead are both valid. I find great deals on fruits and vegetables, pick up some soup ingredients —my husband makes incredible soup — and low-priced pork chops and chicken legs. I buy extra; we won’t eat it all this week but I’ll freeze half for next week. I get some pasta, corn tortillas, and canned beans. I get everything out to my car and realize that I’ve forgotten to get gluten-free flour, so I run back in and buy a bag. I think I need another cup of coffee today! 

Speaking of coffee, I head to Costco next and that’s one of the first things I buy. Costco’s large bags of coffee will last me quite a while and the per-pound price is great. I’m lured in by some gluten-free cookies and buy those for the kids along with other staples we’ll use all month, like tomato sauce, peanut butter, chicken sausage, and a big package of bacon marked gluten-free. (Side note: Why is bacon so expensive lately?)

I drop everything off at home and go pick up the kids from school. We stick around and have a conference with one of the teachers. 

When I get home, the kids have a banana with peanut butter for a snack, I have a quick meeting, then chop up the sweet potatoes and roast them. I put some vegetables and some of the chicken in a pot of water to simmer and make stock so my husband can make soup for tomorrow. I sauté one package of pork chops and we eat them with the sweet potatoes for dinner. The other package of pork chops goes into the freezer.

Later that evening I cool off the stock and my husband shreds the chicken. I fall asleep ridiculously early.

Thursday: Leftover Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs and Toast, Homemade Lunchables, and Gluten-Free Bread with My Husband’s Soup

This morning I have a doctor’s appointment and I’m not allowed to eat breakfast or even drink coffee, so the going is a little rough. I feed the kids the other half of the apple cinnamon pancakes and sausage from the day before. I pack homemade Lunchables for school lunch with pretzel crackers, cheese, grapes, carrot sticks, and a gluten-free cookie. I take the kids to school, get a little bit of work done on a newsletter I write, and take a frozen ball of gluten-free bread dough out to thaw on the counter, imagining soup and bread for dinner.  

After my doctor’s appointment, which took quite a while, I have a late lunch of scrambled eggs and toast. It’s so late that it’s almost time to pick up the kids by the time I’m finished.  When I pick them up they remember that I brought them a gluten-free Kinder Egg from my trip (the Kinder Eggs in the U.S. are not gluten-free), so they are super excited. They have that and some fruit for a snack.  

The frozen gluten-free bread dough has risen, so I put it in a hot oven while my husband puts the soup together. It’s a super-cold day and this dinner really hits the spot. My kids LOVE my husband’s soup and it makes for a cozy evening. 

Friday: Scrambled Eggs and Toast Again, Leftover Soup and Sweet Potatoes, and Gluten-Free Pizza

I make scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. The kids have theirs plain, my husband and I add spinach and feta to ours. And of course there is coffee. The boys are home because it’s a day off from school. They help me make gluten-free pizza dough and we leave it to rise.  We also mix up a chocolate cake to take to a friend’s house for dinner tomorrow. It’s a recipe I need to test for work as well, so it’s a win all around. 

I take my older son thrift-store shopping, as he needs some new clothes and he talks me into buying him a donut. I get a coffee from the same shop. We race over to the elementary school for the other teacher conference and get there just in time.

We all eat leftover soup for lunch when we get home. I think the soup is even better the next day. I also have a few of the leftover roasted sweet potatoes.

I take both kids to a park; they play and I get caught up on some work. Then they run off to a friend’s house for a couple of hours. That evening we make gluten-free personal pizzas from the dough we mixed up earlier. Both boys shape theirs like hearts and they argue about who thought of the idea first. We watch a movie together while we eat dinner. 

Saturday: Oatmeal with PB and Apples, Sandwiches and Snacks, Grilled Sausages and Shrimp at a Friend’s House, and Chocolate Cake

This Saturday we are up bright and early. I feed everyone oatmeal with peanut butter and apples in it. My youngest son has a Tae Kwon Do tournament, so I pack up sandwiches, fruit, those gluten-free cookies and pretzels, and big bottles of water for lunch. It’s held in a middle school and they are selling lots of concessions, but I doubt there will be food that’s safe for my son unless it’s packaged chips or something of the sort. I ice the cake we made yesterday so we’ll be ready to go when we get back from the tournament.  

The tournament takes up most of the day, and my son does really well for his first time! My older son is a peach too and doesn’t complain about hanging out there all day. He does talk me into buying him a candy bar when my husband and I buy coffee, and we all eat the packed lunch. 

After the tournament, we swing by the house and pick up the cake and change clothes, then head to a friend’s house. She grills sausages and shrimp and has sweet potatoes and salad for dinner. We all eat cake and hang out by the fire pit and drink wine. The kids all run around in her big backyard. It’s a really lovely evening.

Sunday: Blueberry Muffins with Bacon and Apples, Leftovers for Lunch, Chicken Tacos, and Whipped Feta for Book Club

I mix up a double batch of blueberry muffins with the frozen blueberries I bought this week.  I freeze some of them for later in the week and we eat some with bacon and apples for breakfast. The kids leave their apples on the table.  

For lunch, we have a jumble of leftovers. My husband and I have soup; the kids have pizza. I take one of the kids to a go-kart/arcade place and the other goes rollerskating with a friend. 

In the evening I pull out some of the chicken, shred it, and add some spices. I serve it with beans for chicken tacos. I also pull out the feta and make whipped feta with pretzel crackers for a book club gathering I have that night.  

Monday: More Blueberry Muffins, Yogurt, and Bacon, Leftover Chicken Tacos, Eggs and SautéedSpinach, and Pumpkin Risotto

For breakfast, we have blueberry muffins, yogurt, and bacon. I pack up leftover chicken tacos, fruit, and a cookie for my son’s lunch. I work on a class I have coming up and take an online class, then meet up with a friend to catch up and go for a walk.  

My husband thinks the baby spinach will go bad if we don’t eat the rest, so he sautés it and serves it with over-easy eggs for lunch for the two of us.  

When the kids come home they go ravaging through the pantry and come up with some random chips I forgot were there, then run over to a neighbor kids’ house to play. I cut a small pumpkin in half and let that roast while I’m doing other things. When it’s soft, I scoop out the seeds and make a really lovely pumpkin risotto with the arborio rice I bought. We all enjoy it except for my youngest son, who makes gagging noises throughout dinner followed by a “sorry mom” each time. Sigh. 

Tuesday: Peanut Butter Toast, Chicken Sausage, and Yogurt, Sandwich and Leftover Risotto, and Spaghetti Carbonara for a Rainy Day

We have peanut butter toast, chicken sausage, yogurt, and coffee for breakfast. I pack up a sandwich, a banana, and a cookie for my son for lunch. I get together with another friend for a walk in the neighborhood and to talk about our recent travels. It rains a little on our walk and pours absolute buckets when I get home.  

For lunch, I heat up leftover risotto for my husband and me. I still find it delicious, despite the kid’s review. 

The rain clears up by the time I pick up the kids from school, but it’s chilly out. I had planned on using the canned chickpeas, tomato sauce, and coconut milk to make a chickpea curry, but after I’ve gotten all the ingredients out on the counter my husband says his stomach isn’t feeling so great and he doesn’t think that will sit well. I pivot and use the gluten-free spaghetti to make a quick spaghetti carbonara and save the chickpeas for the next day.  I bake some gluten-free almond biscotti for a cooking class I’m teaching and I let my husband and kids eat the broken ones for dessert.  

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Mara Weinraub

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