Eating a healthy diet can sometimes burn a hole in your wallet. Throw in dietary restrictions, like avoiding FODMAPs, and that hole has a tendency to get bigger. Following a low FODMAP diet and managing IBS can get pretty stressful in itself. So the last thing we want to do it is add on budget stress – life is hard enough right?!
Eating low FODMAP on a budget can be tricky, but it can be done! Now let’s talk how to be low FODMAP and budget savvy.
1. Breads, cereals and grains
Often low FODMAP also means gluten-free, since most gluten-containing bread/cereal products also contain wheat. One of the downsides to gluten-free products is they are usually more expensive. There are various low FODMAP foods which will serve as a budget-friendly source of carbohydrate and fibre.
- Buy grains which are naturally low FODMAP such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
- Cook a batch of rice, quinoa, or gluten-free pasta at the start of the week to include in lunches and dinners. This is much cheaper than buying the ready-to-eat packets.
- Try Helga’s lower-carb bread as a low FODMAP bread option. It is about $4 a loaf ($0.20 per slice) and comes with the added flavour/texture bonus of normal bread.
- Stock up on gluten-free cereals when they go on sale. You often find certain brands will be up to 50% off at the supermarket every now and then.
- Opt for plain rice cakes as a bread alternative. Add your favourite toppings just before eating, such as cottage cheese with smoked salmon.
- Choose starchy veg such as potato, sweet potato (up to ½ cup), or pumpkin to mix things up.
Most meat and fish are low FODMAP, providing no high FODMAP marinades etc have been added. Meat can be a bit costly, and as Aussies, we tend to have a much higher intake than we need. Try substituting meat every now and again for one of these great low FODMAP, budget-friendly protein alternatives:
- Eggs! Boil a few at the start of the week and include them in salads, on sandwiches, or as a convenient snack.
- Plain tempeh or tofu is cheap, versatile, and a great source of protein and healthy fats. You can pan-fry it and toss through salads, or add it to stir-fries and curries. 100g of plain (firm) tofu will provide over 16g protein + nearly 9g healthy fat from as little as $0.80.
- Including some low-fat cottage cheese is a great, cheap way to boost your protein intake. A low FODMAP serve of 4 tablespoons will provide about 8g protein.
- Canned lentils are low FODMAP per serve and a super cheap alternative. Drain and rinse well then add to salads, curries or mix through some cooked veg.
- Tinned tuna in spring water is a great quick and easy option, and as cheap as $0.80 a can.
3. Fruits and vegetables
Fruit and veg can be cheap as chips or quite expensive, depending on what’s in season.
- Shop to the season. An easy way to tell what’s in season is by the price. Generally, the produce on special is in season, meaning it is cheaper and tastes better. Aim for the low FODMAP options for that season.
- Frozen varieties are still great! Snap-frozen fruit and veg are often just as nutritious as fresh varieties. If the product isn’t in season, such as berries, chances are the frozen product will be cheaper.
- Lactose-free milk and almond milk are both good alternatives to regular milk. Lactose-free milk has a better nutrient profile as it is higher in protein, however, both serve as a source of calcium.
- Most cheese is lactose-free! See the article on lactose and cheese. Toss feta or halloumi through salads, add sliced cheddar to sandwiches/wraps or crackers.
- Buy a large tub of lactose-free yoghurt, and portion into small containers. This usually ends up cheaper than buying the individual multi-packs. You can purchase an 850g tub Black Swan lactose-free yoghurt for $6. This equates to approx $0.85 per 120g serve, as opposed to $1.30-$2.00 per serving in the multi-pack lactose-free yoghurts.
- As well as being a good protein source, 4 tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese will provide approx 1/3 of a serve of calcium. You can purchase 500g tubs for as little as $2.90.
- Peanut butter is a great low FODMAP way to get some healthy fats in your diet. Spread on toast/rice cakes with banana, add to smoothies, add to oats, or enjoy a sneaky spoonful from the jar. Opt for the natural varieties or those which only include a bit of salt as an added ingredient, such as Pics Peanut Butter. One tablespoon of Pics PB will provide 7g healthy fat + 3.5g protein, all for $0.30 (or $0.15 if you score it when it’s on sale for 50% off).
- Extra virgin olive oil has a lot of health benefits and is a tasty way to up your fat intake. Drizzle over roast veggies, salads, poached eggs, stirfries etc. Infused varieties, such as those by Cobram Estate, are also great for some added flavour. A bottle tends to last a while as well, and 1 tablespoon ends up being about $0.25.
Planning ahead is a great way to save money!
- Meal prep – try preparing 3-4 days’ worth of meals at the start of the week. Even if you just make your lunches, you can grab it and go each morning and avoid having to buy your lunch each day. Portioning out some snacks in containers/snap lock bags, such as air-popped popcorn or low FODMAP nuts, will prevent giving into convenience snacks.
- Meal planner – great for budgeting your meals over the week. Get one you can pop on the fridge/wall and get the rest of the household involved as a fun activity each week.
- Grocery list – always, always a good way to prevent overspending at the shops. I always find when I shop without a list, I buy just about everything I didn’t need and forget the few things I did need.
- Don’t shop on an empty tummy – something I always regret! Chances are, if you shop on an empty stomach you may end up as the proud owner of aisle 4 (I know I’m guilty of this!). Do the shopping after a meal like breaky or dinner, or keep a nourishing snack on hand in case you get a bit peckish.