The Cost of Gluten Free Flour.

IMG_0719Over the last couple months I’ve been collecting data at the various stores I visit. It has taken me this long because I don’t regularly go to King Soopers/City Market and I try to make it a practice to avoid Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). I took down prices for everything I use in my gluten free flour blend for comparison. I had made mental notes of prices before, but sometimes my memory is not the greatest, so the general idea I had that Natural Grocers was the cheapest place to buy my flour was a bit questionable.

It turns out I was right. By almost a dollar per pound compared to Whole Paycheck.

So get ready for some math!

First, you need white and brown rice flours, potato starch and tapioca starch. It turns out that Sprouts does not carry tapioca starch (at least I didn’t find it at my usual store) but King Soopers does. King Soopers, however, does not carry potato starch. The prices for the other items were the same at both grocers, so I’m going to assume that to be the case if other stores carry the missing starches and just call Sprouts/King Soopers one store for the purpose of this post. We’ll call it King Sprouts.

Sprouts does sell brown rice flour for $3.29 rather than $3.49 at King Soopers, but white rice flour is the same as King Soopers (at $3.49). When I was breaking the cost down per ounce I rounded up, so the cost per ounce ended up being $0.14 for both stores. Just keep in mind that brown rice flour is slightly cheaper at Sprouts.

Natural Grocers is my store of choice for most packaged goods. Their produce is amazingly pricey, but sometimes they have good sales. At any rate, Natural Grocers is the winner for flour because of their bulk section, but even if you can’t find white rice flour in their bulk flours (they discontinued brown rice flour, grr) they carry the Bob’s Red Mill at a lower price than the other three stores. Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour is $2.95 making it $0.12 per ounce. Brown rice flour is $3.15 making it $0.13 per ounce. Potato and tapioca starch are $3.69 and $3.45 making them $0.15 and $0.14 per ounce respectively. If you buy Bob’s Red Mill for everything the blend works out to be $2.08 per pound. Natural Grocers bulk white rice flour costs $2.65 for 32 ounces, making it $0.08 an ounce. That cuts the total flour blend cost down to $1.76 a pound!

For the purpose of this post, King Sprouts sells brown and white rice flours for $3.49 per 24 ounce package, making it $0.14 per ounce. Potato starch runs at $4.29 and tapioca starch at $3.79 making it $0.17 and $0.16 per ounce respectively. You need 24 ounces of white rice flour, 7.5 ounces of brown rice flour, 7 ounces of potato starch, and 3 ounces of tapioca starch to create the blend. This means King Sprouts comes out to $2.40 a pound for this particular flour blend. Not bad, but not the cheapest either.

Whole Paycheck (predictably) loses. I’ll spare you the cost breakdown, but the per pound cost works out to be $2.56. So, if you don’t have a Natural Grocers in your area, stick with Sprouts or King Soopers.

I didn’t check the prices for regular flours, so I’m not sure how this flour blend compares per pound to an unbleached white flour, or a whole wheat flour. But I’d say that $1.76 a pound is pretty affordable and it was really interesting to find the price differences from store to store. Maybe in a little while I’ll take down the prices for all of the pre-made flour blends and some regular flours for comparison. It’ll be a little pet project.