Being gluten free isn't easy.

Trust me, I know. For starters, it is hard to find any gluten free products that do not cost an arm and a leg. Gluten free processed foods, such as bread, rolls, cookies, frozen meals, and muffins, are not only overpriced, but usually are packed with excess sugar and salt. 

Looking for well balanced meal ideas that don't break the bank? Seems like you've hit the jackpot. For these meals, I shopped at Walmart or Food Lion. Trader Joe's or Aldi are also great alternatives that offer cheap, healthy options. 

Tip: When purchasing gluten free packaged products, make sure to look for the certified gluten free symbol or a "gluten free" label on the front. This means there is no cross contact in the manufacturing plant and very little (if any) gluten is in the package!

1. Easy Coconut Curry

Olivia Chadwick

The first time I made curry, I was terrified that the meal would be way over my budget. However, using a recipe from the Minimalist Baker, I was able to craft a satisfying meal that lasted for a few days! Curry is so versatile that you can add pretty much whatever veggies you want. I chose a handful of baby carrots, 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 yellow squash, and fresh broccoli. All you need next is curry powder, coconut milk, and white rice. Voila! If you are feeling like adding protein, feel free to add chopped chicken.

White rice: $1.98

Coconut milk: $1.98

Zucchini: $0.75

Curry Powder: $2.98

Yellow squash: $0.75 

Broccoli head: $1.00

Total: $9.44 

2. Avocado Egg Toast

Olivia Chadwick

If you haven't tried this AMAZING three ingredient combo, you are missing out. A piece of toast, 1/2 an avocado, and 1 egg are all you need for this hearty, well balanced breakfast. Toast a piece of gluten free bread, mash an avocado, and top with an over-easy or sunny side up egg. Unbelievably good.

Eggs: $1.50 or less

Avocado: $1.50 or less

Gluten free bread: $4.44

Total: $7.44

3. Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Olivia Chadwick

With summer in full swing, I had to include a breakfast smoothie! With all of the smoothie bowls you see on Instagram, it can be a little intimidating to make your own. Surprisingly, it is actually one of the simplest meals I've ever made- and it looks stunning! I used this insanely easy recipe from Gimme Some Oven, and can't help but make it every week for breakfast. 

2 cups frozen strawberries: $1.78

Bananas: $1.50 or less

Almond milk: $2.98

Ice: $0.25 or less

Optional: Assorted toppings 

Total: $6.51

4. French Toast with Berries

Olivia Chadwick

One of my favorite meals of all time is a simple, fruity french toast. There is something about fresh eggs, moist bread, and loads of berries that makes for a dream combination. 

Gluten free bread: $4.44

Eggs: $1.50 or less

A dash of cinnamon: $0.20

Dusting of powdered sugar: $0.25

Fresh strawberries: $2.50 

Total: $8.89

5. Yogurt Breakfast Bowl

Olivia Chadwick

Protein? Check. Carbs? Check. Healthy fat? Checkmate. The dream breakfast is in this little white bowl, and let's face it: Greek yogurt plus anything is so tasty. I got a little creative with this bowl, adding fresh fruit, coconut flakes, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and peanut butter. Feel free to customize this yogurt bowl with as many or as little toppings as you wish. 

Greek yogurt: $1.00 or less

Peanut butter: $2.50

Coconut flakes: $1.98

Mini bag of chia seeds: $1.00

Strawberries: $2.50

Total: $8.98

6.  Sauteed Turkey Burger and Veggies

Olivia Chadwick

Lean meats and veggies make for the healthiest of all healthy meals. Don't worry- this simple, hearty dish is sure to fill you up and make you feel uber fit. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper or poultry seasoning for extra flavor! 

Rainbow bell peppers: $3.00

Mini asparagus: $2.00 or less

Turkey burgers: $4.75 or less

Total: $9.75

7. Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

Olivia Chadwick

Quiches are so underrated. When Grandma first made this for me growing up, I knew that I needed the recipe when I was old enough to cook. This broccoli and cheddar quiche recipe only features five ingredients, and I omitted the crust to make it gluten free. However, feel free to add in a gluten free pie crust!

Broccoli florets: $2.00

Eggs: $2.00 or less

Whole milk: $2.25

Shredded cheddar cheese: $2.50

Dash of salt and pepper: $0.10

Total: $8.85

8. Buttered Noodles with Chicken

Olivia Chadwick

Gluten free pasta is my dinner of choice. Why? With creamy sauce or flavorful toppings, it is hard to tell that the pasta is even gluten free! I chose this dish to feature a simple, buttered noodle base, topped with sauteed chicken, 1/2 an avocado, and shredded cheese. Pasta is so versatile that you can create infinite dinner combinations. The pasta-bilities are endless!

Gluten free pasta: $2.00 or less 

Chicken breast: $4.00

Avocado: $1.50 or less

Shredded cheese: $2.00

Dash of salt and pepper: $0.10

Tablespoon of butter: $0.25

Total: $9.85

9. Gluten Free Oatmeal with Fruit

Olivia Chadwick

If you can't tell already, I am a HUGE fan of breakfast. I think breakfast for dinner is the best invention ever created. For this simple oatmeal recipe, I made gluten free oatmeal and added a sprinkle of granola, sliced strawberries, cut bananas, and a drizzle of honey. De-lish.

You're probably wondering "Aren't oats naturally gluten free?" The answer is yes and no. While oats themselves are free of gluten, they are usually grown near wheat (or used in crop rotation in the same field) and thus become contaminated with gluten. Another reason why they are not marked as gluten free is because of cross contact in the manufacturing facilities, that usually process oats, wheat, rye, and barley in the same building. 

Gluten free oats: $2.88

Strawberries: $2.50 or less

Banana: $0.50

Honey: $2.98

Sprinkle of granola: $.50

Total: $9.36

10. Tuna Stuffed Avocado

Olivia Chadwick

Tuna stuffed avocados are not only pleasing to the eye (go on- snap a photo for Insta), but they are also packed with healthy fats and tons of protein. With the recent spike in avocado popularity, you can essentially find avocados everywhere. 

Canned tuna: $0.75

Avocado: $1.50

Small jalapeno pepper: $0.25

Fresh cilantro: $1.00

Red bell pepper: $1.50

1 Lime: $0.50

Microgreens for garnish: $2.00 or less

Dash of salt and pepper: $0.10

Total: $7.60

Going gluten free can be a challenge, especially if you are new to navigating grocery stores and reading ingredient lists. However, making meals that are naturally gluten free (versus buying a gluten free alternative to your favorite cookie or bread) is usually the cheapest and most nutritious route.

This article has a few of my favorite recipes that I make all the time, and each recipe can be customized to your liking.

Good luck and happy cooking!