Approximately 8% of children living in the United States are living with food allergies. A recent report published by JAMA Pediatrics, surveyed 1,600 caretakers of a child with a food allergy, the overall cost of childhood food allergies was estimated to be nearly $25 billion each year with medicine, special food, loss of work, and other expenses. This means, annually, food allergy costs are $4,184 per child. Special diets and allergen-free foods were estimated to be the second costliest expense with food allergies at $1.7 billion, with medical being number one. This means raising a child with food allergies can increase your costs by about 30%.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have an extra 30% to spend annually. This increases a need to find ways on how to save money while keeping the child safe from harmful allergens. I went to researching the internet for ideas on how caretakers can attempt to save some pennies while keeping their child safe. Below I have listed a few ideas that you may find helpful. Please share any other helpful hints you may have, we would love to hear from you.
Make your own meals
By preparing ahead of time with menus for the week, you will be less likely to purchase impulse buys at the grocery store. In addition to reducing impulse buys, you will also waste less food by knowing how much you are going to use ahead of time and have fewer trips to the stores. By preparing your own meals, you are able to adjust the recipe as needed and attempt to reduce the need for costly special ingredients. One of the articles I found referenced www.thescramble.com which is a meal-planning website that sorts recipes by all major dietary restrictions, including common allergens such as nuts and dairy.
Clip coupons and stock up
The Sunday newspaper is always a great first start as it is filled with coupon magazines and grocery circulars. The next suggestion would be going to the grocer's website to see which allergy-friendly brands they have and if there are any coupons to print at that time. The last suggestion you may find helpful is going to the product's website directly as they may have coupons for print on their site. Once you have your coupons and see what is on sale at which store you can start stocking up on items with long-shelf-lives.
Obtaining product straight from the source is sometimes the cheapest way to purchase items as a middleman is not required for stocking, shelving, and shipping to add additional fees. The products website may even offer a discount if a certain amount of the item is ordered, or free shipping if a specific amount of money was spent on the site.
Don't forget samples
Some companies will offer a complimentary sample, this way your child can try the product before purchasing a large, and quite often pricey, amount. Do not feel shy about asking the company if samples are available.
References: 1. "The Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States" Ruchi Gupta, et al., JAMA Pediatrics, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2376, published online 16 September 2013. 2. "Kids & Food Allergies: 4 Ways to Keep High Costs in Check" Christine Ryan Jyoti, www.learnvest.com, posted on November 13, 2013.