Gluten-Free on a Dime

How to reduce the cost of a gluten-free diet

After being diagnosed with celiac disease, you’ve learned about the gluten-free diet and lifestyle. But perhaps you’ve noticed that being gluten-free costs more than you anticipated. You are not alone in feeling this way—
the gluten-free diet can cost twice as much as a gluten-containing diet.1

It’s important for our celiac team to fully support you and make sure the diet is as sustainable as possible. To this end, we’ve created our Gluten-Free Diet on a Dime checklist. If you are ever concerned about your ability to afford gluten-free foods, let your celiac care team know. We are happy to connect you with resources such as food banks, California Children’s Services (CCS), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), CalFresh, or other support, such as emergency gift cards or rental support to help offset costs.

1A.R. Lee et al., “Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet,” Nutrients 11, no. 2 (2019): 399,

Gluten-free on a dime checklist:

Food programs—check to see if you qualify for the following:

  • WIC—The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
    • Note: If you qualify for WIC, make sure to only use WIC dollars on WIC foods and to avoid spending CalFresh dollars on foods that can be bought through WIC. WIC is very specific about which foods can be purchased with WIC benefits.
  • CalFresh—Also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and formerly known as food stamps.
    • Note: CalFresh benefits can be used for online shopping on certain websites as well.
    • If you qualify for CalFresh, check out the Double Up Bucks Program, where your benefits can be doubled up to a certain dollar amount, when you shop at the farmers’ market.
  • The school breakfast or lunch program.
    • Ask about getting gluten-free school meals—ask your celiac care team for a letter of support!

Shopping tips:

  • Save your receipts! Did you know that patients with celiac disease can deduct a portion of the cost of certain gluten-free foods? You will find more information about this on the last page in the section on Diet & Taxes.
  • Shop for foods that are naturally gluten-free, like fruits, vegetables, rice, corn, beans, popcorn, potatoes, and lentils.
  • Check to see if your grocery store has gluten-free store-brand foods. These usually cost less than brand-name foods.
  • Check out your local international food store: Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African markets often have naturally gluten-free foods like gluten-free grains and rice noodles at great prices.
  • Pick and choose your favorites: Try to prioritize the gluten-free packaged foods that are important to your child.
  • Look online for coupons for your favorite gluten-free brands.
  • Look for discounts and sales, and stock up and freeze favorite foods when you can.
  • Buy in bulk, and don’t forget about Costco and other larger grocery store chains.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for deals! You’d be surprised at what hidden discounts might be available.
  • Shop seasonally, and when going to the farmers’ market, arrive at the last hour. That’s when prices are typically being reduced.

Check out other tips online from

Other food support:

Visit the links for counties below to find community resources (food, COVID-19 relief, rent, housing, work, legal, and immigration):