How to Use Amazon to Save on Gluten-Free, Organic and Specialty Foods

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One comment I often hear after I teach classes on how to save money on groceries goes something like this: “That’s great, Carrie, but my family eats differently than yours does. We eat a {insert specialty diet here – whether gluten-free, organic, kosher or something else} diet. What about me?”

Since I believe coupons are not the primary way you save money on groceries, I think that everyone can reduce his/her grocery bill. The key is first understanding how much the products you buy cost at their regular price. Next figure out what a good sale price is for them and how often the things you buy go on sale.

Then, when something is on sale at a great price, buy enough of it to get through to the next sale. If you can use a coupon on top of a sale, fabulous.

If there’s only one thing you remember from Pocket Your Dollars, let it be this:

Buying something on sale without a coupon is almost always a better deal than paying full price and using a coupon.

Once you know what a good sale price is on the items you regularly buy, one easy way to stretch your budget when eating a specialty diet is by purchasing your groceries online from Amazon.

Amazon Deals

Prices for specialty foods from Amazon are very, very competitive with what you’ll find at most grocery stores and co-ops. But the savings at Amazon don’t stop with their everyday low prices. You can choose Subscribe & Save for almost any grocery item and receive a 15% discount on that day’s purchase of that item.

Subscribe & Save

Subscribe & Save is an automatic re-ordering service that you can cancel at any time. At the point of purchase, you select the frequency with which you’d like to receive future shipments of the item, but you can cancel before you ever receive one. Wait until your order has shipped, then log in to your Amazon account and select “Manage Subscribe & Save Items” from the account management screen (see image below).

You’ll be presented with a list of your Subscribe & Save items with an option to cancel any or all of them.

Amazon Coupons

There are two types of coupons that are good at Amazon and neither require a scissors and Sunday paper or even a printer.

First, each month various brands of products go on sale. In my experience these are often specialty food brands providing gluten- or allergy-free products, organic products or something similar. The current sales are listed on this “Special Offers” Amazon web page and typically range from 10-30% off.

To receive the available discount on any of these month-long products you’ll need to enter a coupon code at checkout (the coupon codes vary by product).

Another rotating set of products has money off coupons available. These operate more like a traditional grocery coupon in that you’ll get a set amount of money off the product you purchase versus a percentage discount. These aren’t always specialty products and sometimes mirror some of the grocery coupons we’ve recently seen in the paper.

Visit this page of coupons and click on whichever one you are interested in to see qualifying products. The coupon will automatically be applied at checkout.

These coupon discounts can be combined with the 15% Subscribe & Save discount to create some amazing deals.

Amazon Prime

Shipping costs are a factor for all of us that shop online. Amazon has made it fairly easy to get free shipping. Yes, you can spend $25+ in any order to get free 2-day shipping or you can have an Amazon Prime account which gives you free 2-day shipping with no minimum purchase.

Instead of paying $79 for an Amazon Prime membership, you can get a free Prime account if you are a mom or caregiver to a child (through Amazon Mom), a student with an .edu address (through Amazon Student) or if you haven’t had a Prime account in the last 13 months, you can get a free trial. Even without a Prime membership, I rarely struggle to reach the $25 spending threshold to get free shipping.

Product Examples

I’ve talked about how to shop Amazon, but now let me show you some specific examples to prove my point on the kind of savings you can see when you combine Amazon’s coupons, Subscribe & Save and free shipping.

These examples are valid as of this writing (10/11/11), but Amazon may change their prices at any time:

Clif Kid ZBars (24 ct. box) for $10.19 after Subscribe & Save. This price for a 24-bar case even beats Sam’s Club’s price of $10.99.

Organic Valley 1% Milk Drink Boxes (24 ct.) for $21.04 after Subscribe & Save. That makes each drink box $0.88 and is a 42% savings over the $1.50/carton cost of this same item at an area grocery store.

Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies (6 boxes) for $11.30 or $1.88/box. Compare that to $3.89/box at my local grocery store. To get this price I combined a coupon code found on the special offers page with the Subscribe & Save discount.

Udi’s Gluten Free Granola, Cranberry (12 oz.) for $12.17, which is $4.05 per pouch. The regular price for this product at my local grocery store is $8.99 per pouch, but they are on sale this week for $6.99 each. This is another example of combining a coupon code from the special offers page with the special offers page with the Subscribe & Save discount.

Yes, the sales or coupons on these specific examples will eventually expire, but they’ll be replaced with another batch of discounts.

If Amazon isn’t your thing and you’d rather go to the grocery store, here are a few ways Pocket Your Dollars can help you with that:

A Grocery Coupon Database

You can look up coupons for products you use, even if those products are never included in one of our shopping lists. Many times coupons for organic and specialty products are available for print online and we index those for you in our coupon database.

Co+Op Deals Shopping List

Co+Op Deals is a network of 300+ grocery co-ops that share a coordinated sales flyer. We align their bi-weekly sales with coupons, and our whole foods expert, Angie Erickson, helps us know which items are at rock bottom prices.

For even more tips, check out my previous post on 4 Tips for Eating Organic on a Budget.

Whether you and your family eat an organic, gluten-free or other specialty diet, you can see major savings by knowing the sales cycles for items you regularly buy, by using any and all available coupons on top of sale prices and by taking advantage of great online deals.

Your turn: What items do you regularly buy at What other tips do you have for eating a specialty diet on a budget?


  1. Sandi says

    I find a lot of great stuff in the bulk bins at the natural foods stores. Many times, I can get organic products for the same price as private-label,non-organic brands at supermarkets. Stop by there if you need an odd legume or rice product!

  2. Karen says

    Can I get more detail on where to get the coupon code for the gluten free cookies? That would be a great price but I don't see any coupon code… what am I missing?

  3. KM says

    So can anyone confirm that I can no longer use my subscribe and save AND get free 2 day shipping? I used to get the 2 day shipping free, and now I no longer can.

    • JoAnna says

      Save an extra 30% on a variety of Pamela's cookies and bars sold by Save 15% when you enter code PAMCOOKI at checkout. Plus, save an additional 15% when you combine the instant rebate with your Subscribe & Save order–bringing your total savings to 25%. Offer valid through October 31, 2011. See rules and restrictions.

  4. Karen says

    I did just purchase the gluten free cookies, what I found was 15% off for signing up for the subscribe and save and an additional 15% off with the coupon code pamcooki. So a total of 30% off, not an additional 30% off with the coupon. Total was $13.30. Still a VERY good deal.

  5. Cheri A says

    If anyone buys Glutino pretzels, Amazon's subscribe and save price is the best that I have found on the 14.1-ounce bags. The price is $4.85 per bag, and the stores are usually at $7.99 per bag. I save my swagbucks up and buy pretzels when I am close to the price to save my out-of-pocket expense.

    If you don't want to purchase a case of pretzels, the best price I have found is $4.99 per bag in the co+op flyer deal. It is currently that price through 10/18. I am going to price match this price at Walmart this week to buy a few bags so that I can accumulate a few more swagbucks before I order from Amazon again.

    My buy price for Tinkyada pasta is $3.40 per bag. I have been buying it on sale at Cub Foods lately. Amazon has it for $3.20 per bag, but I haven't bought it from there. I just cannot always buy everything in bulk.

    I used to buy Glutino crackers from Amazon, and they were definitely cheaper than buying them in the store. I think they were $3.xx per box, but after a I received a few orders of crumbs when they just slapped mailing order on the case, I quit buying them through Amazon. I was given a refund after I complained the last time.

    Anyone have a favorite cracker besides Glutino?

  6. Erin says

    Amazon is THE BEST for specialty GF products! Pirate's Booty is super cheap on Amazon (under $2/bag). We go through that stuff like crazy around here, so we have no problem ordering it by the case. I do use Carrie's lists to get everything I can at the regular grocery stores, like taking advantage of Rainbow's General Mills cereal deals to stock up on GF Chex, etc. I still struggle to find good deals on frozen GF products, like Udi's, etc. since while you can occasionally get coupons for them, the sale prices are RARELY advertised in the weekly ads so you have no idea when they're going to be on sale. They always put specialty GF products under the "Natural/Organic" section in ads (which really makes no sense at all in my opinion) which as we all know, usually only features 3-4 products. Didn't mean for this to turn into a rant! Ha ha!

  7. sara says

    I love to buy GF products from Amazon try the pamela's baking mix – makes the best pancakes. Bob's red mill GF corn bread, and Nature's path Mesa sunrise cereal are my regular purchases. Use the subscribe and save and it is always way cheaper than the health food store.. I also split orders with my mom or girls from work.

  8. Theresa K. says

    Love this post! I agree: Amazon makes buying many GF items fairly painless. I love Glutino products and Amazon's prices are untouchable. I still spread my dollars locally with my fresh purchases. For what it's worth, I've never received a smashed item from Amazon, including Glutino pretzels. I did once receive melted ThinkThin GF bars during this summer's heat wave. Amazon is great about returns or credits, thought.

  9. says

    Wow Carrie! Today was the first time I was on your site and immediately I came to this page. The word"organic" leaped out at me since I am trying to always eat and feed the best.Thank you so much for what you wrote. Now I have to get more familiar with shopping online with Amazon.

    Now I going to have a better look at all of the other goodies that you offer here!

  10. Lisa says

    I often find half price bread at the coop when it's close to its expiration date. Throw it in the freezer and use as needed. Also, I pick up meats for a dollar or two off when they are reaching expiration. When you combine that with weekly sales, the price on free range, grass-fed meats are often the same as conventional. Again, throw in the freezer. Beggars can't be choosers, so you have to be flexible! But I do feed my family really good food on a budget.

  11. Sharlean says

    I went to CVS today and bought Nature Made Vitamin B at BOGO free and then I had a $10 off coupon, so I got the two vitamins for free and had a negative on my purchase, so I also got a case of bottled water free. The other day at CVS I got 3 Colgate toothpastes that were on clearance and had a CVS $2.50 off coupon on Colgate and it did not say excludes clearance so I got to use the coupon, and also purchased a curling iron that was 75% off so the price was $2.49, and received a $5 rewards on my receipt, so ended up making $2 on everything and getting it all free.

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