The Free Guide to Living on a Low Income with Food Allergies
Last updated: October 2023
Food allergies come to people of all walks of life. Unfortunately, in today’s world, finding substitutions or solutions to eating without getting the adverse effects of allergic reactions can come at a costly rate. With the rising cost of food as well as the increase of diet trends, items such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free foods have seen skyrocketing costs.
Here is a simple guide to managing food allergies on a low income to help those struggling to find solutions that I have utilized myself during and before the pandemic. As the head of a struggling family of three, I can attest that these have helped me get to where I am today.
Food stamps cover all types of food
There is a bit of a misconception that food stamps will not cover foods that are specially marked as gluten free or free of another allergen. In reality, food stamps cover FOOD. This means that any and all food is covered. As long as what you are using them on is grocery items, your purchase is valid. In some states, you may apply for food stamps even if you are of certain income brackets if your dietary needs necessitate that you are impacted with an extreme burden. Contact your local social worker or government office to find out if you qualify.
Managing food allergies while living in a hotel or car
Having food allergies often means tons of cooking. This can be difficult if your family has been left to live in a hotel or car. From personal experience, a hot plate and a pan has gotten me far. Hot plates can be fairly inexpensive and can run off electricity or, in some cases, USB, which you can plug into your car charger area. In the past, I was able to get one off of Amazon for around $20, and due to my previous homeless status, I was able to have it sent to an Amazon Locker, which exists for those wanting more security for their packages and are conveniently located near grocery or convenience stores. You do not need an address for these, but your debit or credit card should have a billing address on file (PO boxes are generally ok). I was able to plug this in anywhere and use my saucepan to cook numerous food items, such as rice, beans, gluten-free soups, and much more.
Incorporating raw and natural foods into your diet
Allergen-free convenience foods are often pricey. Items that are easy to store dry or can be eaten fresh can be cheap or in some cases free, such as from a food pantry. Store dry rice, beans, pastas, and keep on deck fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Invest $5 in your basic spices: salt, pepper, onion, garlic, if you are able, and eat basic. This is oftentimes healthier, and from personal experience, my health increased during my most challenging times.
Explore local food pantries
Friends used to ask me how I was even able to acquire anything from local soup kitchens and food pantries, as they often gave me pastas and cereals filled with gluten and dairy. It is okay to make a friend that comes regularly, or even a new friend, and offer to trade items. There are also local Buy Nothing groups, and sometimes people will trade for certain items. This has proven successful during some hard times, and in the process, I have made some lifelong friends.
Managing food allergies on a low income is possible!
Living with food allergies can be challenging, and being low income is even more challenging. Whether you are having a hard time with finding work, or perhaps a family member has lost a job, whatever you might be going through, know that there are solutions for you and that nothing is impossible. For those enduring such a situation, all are welcome to leave a comment for additional support.
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?