Magnifying glass on a product label

Whether you’re born with dietary restrictions or develop them over time, it can be challenging to make your grocery budget work. Allergy-friendly foods are typically more expensive and not as widely available. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune on groceries or get stuck in the rut of eating the same things over and over.

With these tips for saving money on groceries, you’ll be able to eat with plenty of variety — even on a special diet — without breaking the bank.

Find your safe brands

Grocery shopping with food restrictions is difficult in the beginning, but once you know a few safe shopping places, brands and food items, it will get easier. Identifying a brand that creates a variety of yummy products that cater to your needs is ideal. For example, if you’re kosher, find a few kosher-verified brands and see if you can locate them for sale nearby.

Even after you know your safe brands, double-check the labels. Sometimes, formulations or recipes change over time. Even if you’ve eaten a product for years, if your allergy or sensitivity is severe, do a once-over for peace of mind every so often. Because of my vigilance, my household, which has several serious allergies, hasn’t had any cross-contamination or accidental exposure.

Buy only what you need

Many products that cater to dietary restrictions or special dietary needs have short shelf lives. That’s because they may have fewer preservatives as part of the way they cater to allergens (corn, soy and wheat are often used in food preservatives), or they may not be built to be shelf-stable for long. It isn’t always the case, but don’t assume you can buy a year’s worth of specialty products that will still be good in the pantry for that long.

For allergy-friendly products we use regularly, I keep enough in our pantry for three to six months. Then, the month or so before it seems like I’m going to run out, I start looking for sales or coupons. If I find any great deals, I’ll stock up for three to six months again.

Take advantage of coupons

Speaking of coupons and deals, don’t assume that foods that cater to dietary restrictions won’t have coupons. Our online printable coupon carousel can include items that are gluten-free or meet other dietary needs.

The best way to stay on top of available coupons is to download our app, where you’ll be able to search for coupons and cash back offers easily and save the ones you like. Just remember to check the app often, because it’s updated frequently and you never know what might pop up!

Get creative with where (and how) you shop

For shelf-stable products, online specialty retailers like Vitacost or Thrive Market might sell snacks, canned goods and other pantry staples at a lower price than you’d find on your grocery store shelf. (Be sure to compare prices, however, because with coupons and sales, sometimes your local grocery store can beat them!)

While it won’t work with every brand, if you find smaller companies that make food products that work for you, it never hurts to email the company directly. You could ask if the company will give you case pricing or if it has any exclusive coupons or discounts.

I’ve done this many times, and even when it doesn’t pan out, I’ve learned about better places to purchase the company’s products. You can also sign up for a company’s emails to be notified when it releases new products or offers discounts or sales.

Don’t give up on deliciousness

While it might feel difficult to budget with dietary restrictions, with a few simple routine changes and a bit of research, you can save money on your groceries and still — safely — enjoy plenty of delicious foods.