Wheat FieldsCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jams_123/955698430/


When you think of gluten-free cooking, you probably think of recipes full of strange ingredients that are not only hard to find but also super expensive.  This isn't true at all!  There are plenty of inexpensive and easy-to-find gluten-free ingredients out there just waiting for you try out today! 


Gluten-Free Substitute for Flour: Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Gluten-free flour mixes, such as Bob's Red Mill's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour,  can be found in almost any major grocery chain these days.  Though not as affordable as wheat flour, the GF mixes can be a more affordable and convenient option than trying to create your own.
Gluten-Free Substitute for Breading: Gluten-Free Flour, Cornmeal, Corn Flour
Cornmeal is a gluten-free ingredient that you can find almost everywhere – yes, even your local 7-11.  Corn flour (also called "masa") may not be found so easily – check your local Hispanic store – but is super inexpensive.  Worst comes to worst, you can always grab a bag of GF flour the next time you're at your local grocery or health food store.
One of Many gluten-free flour options out thereCredit: http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Gluten-Free-All-Purpose/dp/B000KEPBCS/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1328557669&sr=1-1

Gluten-Free Substitute for Bread Crumbs: Old Gluten-Free Bread, GF Oatmeal, Corn flakes or other GF Non-sweet Cereal
I'm sure you've seen the little containers of "gluten-free bread crumbs" that some health food stores are selling for a fortune.  You don't need these!  Just buy a loaf of GF bread (or make your own) and create your own crumbs.  You can then freeze them and use whenever you need it.

For applications where you plan to blend the crumbs into something (like meatloaf), you might have success with pulverized gluten-free oatmeal or cereal.  These liquefy and disappear into the recipe, giving you the right consistency while not tasting "oaty" or "corny".  Jut remember, don't go overboard – a little bit will work.
Gluten-Free Substitute for Pie Crusts: Shredded potatoes, GF Cookies or Cereal
Line your well-greased pan with a thin layer of shredded potato and butter and slightly toast it under your broiler to make a nice crust for you next quiche or other savory pie. 

For the sweeter side, crush GF cookies or cereal, combine with some butter, and then press into place along the pie pan to make a nice sweet crust for cheesecake or mousse-based desserts. 
Of course, you could always go without a pie crust…but an apple pie just wouldn't the same without the crust, would it?  There are also gluten-free pie crusts mixes available, but these are not as readily available as the other ingredients.
Gluten-Free Substitute for Thickeners: Gluten-Free Flour, Cornstarch, Arrowroot, Potatoes, Pudding Mix
Many of the same easy-to-find thickeners you used before, such as cornstarch and arrowroot, can still be used in your gluten-free lifestyle. 

When a recipe asks you to use flour to thicken up a sauce, like in a roux or cheese sauce, you can use a bit of the gluten-free flour mix instead.  Since these GF flour mixes are a combination of different flours, you may have to experiment with amounts to get the right consistency. 

If you want to thicken up a sauce or soup, one idea is to toss in a thinly diced potato and let it cook until all the pieces dissolved on their own.  Instant mashed potatoes could do the same thing but use these sparingly –your watery soup could be turned into a thick potato soup in…well, an instant!

If you're making something sweet like a pie or filling, try a bit of dry pudding mix.  It will not only thicken things up but it will add some sweetness to it also.
Gluten-Free Substitute for Binding: Egg, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum
Which GF "binder" you use will depend on the food you are making.  For example, when you're making meatloaf and other proteins, you can add in an egg to help bind it together without affecting its taste.  Xanthan and Guar Gum, both of which can usually be found in the baking or health food aisles of the larger grocery stores, are typically used in baked goods to replace the binding qualities of gluten and yeast. 
Gluten-Free Substitute for Soy Sauce: Wheat-free "Tamari" Sauce
Many people are surprised when they find out that regular soy sauce is derived from wheat.  Thankfully, there are gluten-free options out there, though you may have to visit an Asian store to find them.  Just make sure that you read the label and ingredient list to ensure that there are no hidden gluten sources.

The same goes for teriyaki and hoisin sauce, though these can be even more difficult to find.  Your best bet to finding these will be at large online stores like Amazon.com. 
Gluten Free Soy Sauce - Yum!Credit: http://www.amazon.com/Wan-Ja-Shan-Organic-Gluten-Free/dp/B0043RKUP6/ref=sr_1_2?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1328594096&sr=1-2

Gluten-Free Substitute for Tortillas / Bread – Lettuce Leaves, Corn Tortillas
The fast food chains had it right when they started to "Lettuce wrap" their sandwiches.  This is a great option when you want that sandwich "feel" and taste without the additional cost of GF bread.

If you still want an authentic burrito, look into corn tortillas.  These were once considered "icky" by American taste but are now making a comeback.  The trick is to pre-cook them to help soften them up.  You can do this either by slowly warming them up in a 250 degree oven or lightly toasting them in a frying pan.
Gluten-Free Substitute for Noodles – Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Spaghetti Squash, Rice Noodles
I'm sure the price of gluten-free noodles made your jaw drop.  Well, don't worry – you can still have that yummy noodle "feel" without hurting your wallet.  Rice noodles, usually found in your local grocery store's ethnic aisle or Asian store, can easily stand in for wheat noodles.  These do have a different "taste" from their wheat counterpart but once you get used to that, you'll be in Italian heaven once again.

If you don't want to search your small town for rice noodles, there are more natural options available.  Yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant can be shredded and quickly stir-fried to make pho-noodles for spaghetti dishes or thinly sliced and layered in a pan for lasagna and other "baked noodle" dishes.

Of course, nature gave us its own version of "noodles" – the stringy innards of a spaghetti squash.  It does take an extra step or two to get the yummy goodness out – cut the squash in half, clean out the seeds, and either roast or microwave – but it's well worth it, especially when you're craving a good old-fashion spaghetti night.