As I was typing up my peek
into the many staples we keep around the house for our dairy- and nut-free toddler, I started thinking about cost. Everyone wants to save money. I realized that once we had to buy certain products for our daughter that I would have to work extra hard to save money because so many products that are allergy-free are so costly. The strategies and suggestions that I'm going to share with you are based on costs in Wisconsin. So keep in mind that you may have to find your own price points that may be higher or if you're lucky lower. My strategies mirror those of other money saving articles, however because our daughter's diet is specific I'm going to share with you links and actual costs.
1. Find store brands that are safe. Be sure to read and re-read labels. Especially look for the phrasing "made in a facility or on equipment with peanuts, tree nuts, milk, etc..." I often see pretzels, crackers, dried fruit (ie raisins) all have that warning.
2. Shop around
. We find that one store will carry one product and the next store will carry another. While Whole Foods is great, it's not usually the cheapest. I have certain stores I buy certain items. It sorta becomes a science. For example, I buy Enjoy Life chewy bars, soy milk, soy yogurt, toffuti cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and Purely Decadent ice cream at our locally owned grocer, which has the cheapest food products in our area. I buy some product such as Tofutti Pizzaz pizza, Enjoy Life chips, Enjoy Life chewy bar at Hyvee. I live about two minutes from Target and will buy Soy milk there unless I go to the locally owned grocery store or it's on sale somewhere else. My price point for a half gallon of Silk Soy Milk is under $3. I love when I get coupons or Target has it on sale for $2.50. The last store I shop at has little-to-no dairy-free food on sale regularly and has a small selection to begin with. Sometimes I get lucky, but not too often.
3. Use coupons
. These retailers regularly have coupons for product we like to use. Occasionally, you can find them on coupons.com or on the manufacturer's website. Also, I have written to many manufacturers requesting coupons for their products. These come in especially handy when I use them at our locally owned grocery store that doesn't take Internet coupons.
4. Watch for sales and have a price point. I know that I can get raisins for a less than $3 for a 24 oz container. Sometimes the sale price is higher than that -- that's not a sale to me.
5. Stockpile on snacks when you find them cheap. I like to have a variety of snacks around stashed in the pantry. Why? Because it's easy to pair up with fresh or frozen fruit or yogurt. Our snacks are typically dried fruit, cereal, crackers, graham crackers, fruit snacks, or homemade baked goods.
6. Find food for traveling. This is the one time I will strategize without cost. If it means it's easier and she'll eat than it's worth the little extra cost.
7. Re-read labels. I put this in here because even though a product was safe a couple months ago, it is possible that it no longer is. And if you have to toss it out after purchasing it, you are out some money.
8. Save in other areas. My mindset is that if I save $10 on a double coupon day at the grocery store on regular items, that $10 will buy me some non-dairy items for my little one. If I fill out a survey and earn $3, I equate that to a weeks worth of soy milk for my daughter.
9. Don't feel guilty. I sometimes feel guilty when I spend $4 on a new product to try to find out my daughter won't eat it or I didn't re-read the label and it has an allergen in it. It happens. It's okay to make mistakes or for kids not to eat something new. It actually can take a child 10 times trying something new over the course of six months before they might even like it.
10. Do what works for you. Sometimes when reading blogs and other's suggestion, you can feel like you're not doing enough or doing it right. Well, to that I say use this as a guideline, but if you don't have time to shop around or coupon clip every week then don't. Do what works for your family. I am just happy to share what works for us. Also, it's taken me two years to figure this out. And it has been a challenge.