Free from food can be cheap and cheerful

A recent blog post by Michelle Berridale-Johnson of Foodsmatter blog wrote today about the expense of shopping for food when you have allergies in “Not cheap – having allergies”, where she discusses the rising costs not only for food but also drugs and treatment for those with allergies.

The price of some staple free from foods have been going down as demand increases, which is good. However, some things have seemed to more than doubled in price, such as Pure dairy free spreads. They have gone up in price from about £1.00 if you were lucky to over £2.00 and sometimes even £2.50. That’s quite a dramatic increase in price and unavoidable if you want to put spread on your sandwiches or toast.

Own brand dairy free spreads can be cheaper but the best price I’ve found was from a very unexpected source.

Special thanks to Gaenor Hall who told me about this product on the What Allergy facebook page, Aldi Solesta sunflower spread is dairy free and costs just 75p! Yes you heard me.

Aldi Solesta sunflower spread is dairy free and only 75p!

Aldi Solesta dairy free vegan sunflower spreadIt tastes just a good as any other free from spread, not as good as butter but then we can’t work miracles.

Sometimes I wish I’d never eaten butter and cheese at all and then I wouldn’t miss it so badly.

If you’re interested in trying this very affordable dairy free spread, this is what’s in it:

Ingredients: Vegetable oil (55%), [including sunflower oil (19%)] water, salt (1.4%), Emulsifier: Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids; Preservative; Potassium sorbate; Colours; Annatto, Curcumin; Acidity Regulator: citric acid; Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin V12, Folic Acid, Flavouring.

I couldn’t find an email address for Aldi so plan to ring them to clarify their manufacturing process but a question I put on their Facebook page resulted in a reply saying that this spread is indeed suitable for vegans so it’s looking good. No adverse reactions for me so far anyway.

Asda free from, affordable and growing range

Check out Asda too as they now have a very respectable range of free from own brand and independent products in store at quite affordable prices. Not as cheap as their normal range but much cheaper than the other big supermarkets. Click here for more on Asda free from.

Asda Free From logoThe packaging is black and yellow and they use their own special Free From logo. All of the range is gluten free, some is dairy free and they seem to try to avoid all the major food allergens where they can, though gluten free is definitely their focus.

I do have a few tips for eating cheaply on a restricted allergen free diet.

Five tips for shopping free from on a budget

  1. Cook in bulk – always try to cook extra and put left overs into tubs to freeze for instant allergen free ready meals.
  2. Look out for bargains – buy cheap bread when it’s on offer due to being close to its sell by date and freeze it. Even if you don’t think you can use it quick enough, or already have a half used loaf at home, if you have room to freeze it avoids running out when shops are low or have run out of stocks, which happens quite a lot. Always a bit disappointing if you have allergies because you can’t buy another brand or type of cheese, spread, bread if the free from has run out.
  3. Shop around – look out for bargains like Aldi Solesta spread, it’s well worth it when it’s actually three times the price to buy competitors brands.
  4. Ethnic shops – can often be cheaper sources of things like rice flour as they sell a lot of it and buy in bulk.
  5. Free delivery – Many shops offer free delivery if you spend over a certain amount. If you shop at Goodness Direct make use of their discounts when on offer and always try to spend more than £35 so you get free delivery.

Where do you buy most of your free from shopping? If I’m honest, I prefer Sainsbury’s range as I can get more of what I want under one roof. I love Waitrose and M&S but tend to shop there for a treat. Asda is OK and getting better but not always guaranteed dairy and nut free. Budgens do stock soya and rice milk, gluten free bread and Mrs Crimbles. I keep asking if my local Budgens could stock just a few other things so time will tell. They tend to be franchises so can try stocking different foods without too much red tape. The co-op sometimes has some freefrom stuff but often only rice milk, though I have heard they do some biscuits, Keep a look out and if I ever find anything I’ll let you know.

My best tip though is to do without special free cakes and biscuits. You can make cake-in-a-mug or home made flapjacks or biscuits. Just because you have allergies isn’t an excuse to gorge on free from goodies – something I am guilty of so don’t think I’m having a go. Have some fruit, dates, apricots etc. and try to cut down on what you buy. But for special treats it’s OK to sneak to the freezer and dig out the hidden Fria Kladdkaka chocolate brownie cake. I prefer buying cake from independent companies like The Cake Crusader or Steph’s free from. They tend to be much healthier and contain only normal cake ingredients, not things you don’t know what they are, or wouldn’t find in the normal larder.

Happy shopping my allergy friends and do share any special bargains you find.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

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