Learn the essential, must-have ingredients you need to keep stocked to make Paleo/Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free desserts, where to find them and how to save money on expensive ingredients!
You want to enjoy dessert when you're on a restricted (gluten-free/Paleo/Keto/Vegan) diet? Yeah you do! Me TOO.
But first you've gotta have the necessities in your pantry!
I keep these 5 basic ingredients stocked in my pantry at ALL times so that when the mood strikes, I'm ready to whip up a healthy dessert.
BONUS: I'm also sharing WHERE I buy my ingredients and how I save hundreds of dollars a year on my grocery bill! 🙂
Disclosure: As an affiliate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases made through referral links in this post (at no additional cost to you).
Main Ingredients: Top 5 Necessities
These are the basic building blocks of gluten-free/grain-free, dairy-free desserts.
- Almond Flour - the KING of grain-free baking! Use this to make my pie crusts, scones, 5 minute donut holes and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies! I use Thrive Market brand. Great quality at a great price! Bob's Red Mill brand from Amazon is also great.
- Coconut Oil - this is the KEY to raw desserts because it acts as a binder to hold everything together. I use Nutiva brand from Amazon.
- Coconut Milk (or Coconut Cream) - the ultimate replacement for dairy! It's super creamy and makes the BEST whipped cream and chocolate mousse. I use Thai Kitchen brand milk from Amazon and Thrive Market cream.
- Your favorite nuts: Almonds, Pecans or Walnuts. I love the neutral flavor of almonds for no-bake crusts! I buy nuts from Aldi.
- Your preferred sweetener (see my recs below)
Sweeteners (Dry and Wet)
For Keto/Low-Carb (my preference) I use:
- Lakanto Classic Monkfruit (granules) the BEST sugar replacement! Amazing taste, and 1:1 sub. Perfect for Heavenly Peanut Butter Pie! I buy from Thrive Market
- Lakanto Monkfruit Maple Syrup from Thrive Market Delicious 1:1 sub! I use it to make scones and low-carb cheesecake!
For Paleo & Vegan:
- Pure Maple Syrup Steer clear of Aunt Jemima, folks. You want the real deal! Pure maple syrup (light-colored, previously called "Amber") has a more mild taste, which I prefer.
- Coconut Sugar A fantastic replacement for refined sugar. It has a graham cracker/brown sugar type of yummy flavor. Buy on Amazon.
With the 5 Essentials, you're pretty much ready to rule the world of healthy desserts!
We just have to add in a couple of extra things for flavor and INCREDIBLE texture.
Your Favorite Nut Butter:
Nut butters are amazing at creating rich and creamy textures in pies, plus they are my #1 ingredient in fat bombs, bark and healthy bites! Keep a jar or two of whatever you like on hand.
- Almond Butter
- Peanut Butter - I buy Aldi's Simply Nature Organic PB which is super affordable and tastes GREAT. Just peanuts & salt!
- Cashew Butter
Tip: Always check the labels. Read the ingredients! It seems like so many companies are sneaking in sugar these days. Try to find ones with just ONE or two ingredients (nuts and salt).
If you have a food processor, it's easy to make your own! See how to make almond butter here.
A Few Flavors:
- Quality Vanilla Extract
- Himalayan Pink Salt
- Cacao Powder for all the chocolate recipes!
- Dark Chocolate (bar or chips, sugar-free for strict keto) My favorite is Aldi's 85% dark.
- Your favorite flavorings: lemons, limes, oranges, or extracts such as mint, almond or espresso powder
Nice to Have Sometimes:
These you don't need to keep in stock ALL the time. I typically only make desserts with these for special occasions.
- Raw Cashews to make vegan/paleo cheesecakes
- Blanched Almond Slivers to make cashew-free cakes such as Almond Dreamcake and New York Cheesecake
- Avocado to make Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Gelato and many more crazy good avocado desserts
- Cacao Butter to make white chocolate flavored desserts like this White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake or Tuxedo Pie
- Medjool Dates for making (non-keto) cheesecake crusts and bliss balls
- Coconut for making homemade starburst (!!) and Pecan Sandies
- Hazelnuts for "Nutella" flavored desserts like this pie, these truffles and this bark!
- Palm Oil to make my all-time favorite frosting
How to Save Money on your Grocery Bill:
Fun fact: I used to be a coupon blogger known as The Coupon Bomb! lol
Yep, way back in 2010 I was one of those "Extreme Couponers" that scored tons of FREE stuff using coupons, sales, and shopping at multiple stores.
Well now stores have majorly tightened up their policies on coupons, and frankly I just don't have the time to shop all over town in search of the best deal! I bet you don't either.
But I DID learn a LOT on how to save money on everything! Especially all these ingredients that can add up quick.
Here's how to get the most bang for your buck:
1. Buy in BULK
That 15 oz jar of coconut oil is great. But did you know if you buy the 54 oz jar, it's actually SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper? Yes! Per ounce!
The small jar is $0.57/oz vs 28 cents with the large jar! (when you subscribe! See below) Almost HALF the price!
For foods you know you'll use all the time, like coconut oil, buy the biggest size you can get for the most savings.
When buying ingredients like almond flour and nuts in bulk: store them in the freezer for maximum freshness. They'll last a really long time.
2. Plan Ahead
Make an actual LIST and stick to it! That means planning your meals (and desserts) in advance so you know what you need.
Planning will help you save in three ways:
- You won't be spending extra at the store.
- You'll have less food waste.
- You'll spend less on eating out since you already planned your meals!
3. Shop Discount Stores
Aldi is my absolute FAVORITE store. I buy my groceries there EVERY week. The prices are so low!! I can't bring myself to shop at high-end grocery stores when Aldi has such quality foods for so cheap.
Some of my favorite picks from Aldi, (besides fruits, veggies, and meats) are almonds, walnuts, pecans, flax, oats, maple syrup, gluten-free pasta, organic peanut butter, avocado oil, organic coffee, organic spices and more! They even have La Croix !! YESS!
ps they frequently sell avocados for 49 CENTS. Praise the Lord.
4. Shop ONLINE
Thrive Market has become my GO-TOs when buying ingredients I can't buy at Aldi.
They literally have thousands of organic and natural products to choose from, already discounted 20-50%.
I've found their prices to be even cheaper than Amazon in most cases! (Especially on your initial order where you get an extra 25% off everything 😍)
Save an extra 25% off your first order at Thrive Market! Click here
Amazon! The next best thing to Thrive. If you're not buying your specialty ingredients online, you're probably paying too much.
Amazon Prime is my BFF when I need something and I need it FAST. I am totally spoiled by their FREE 2 day shipping (even next day sometimes!)
Amazon Subscribe & Save (it really does save!)
If it's an ingredient you'll use a lot of and use up quickly, go ahead and subscribe. You save an EXTRA 15% with your subscription when you have 5 or more items. Or 5% with 1-4 items.
Start Stocking Your Pantry Now:
Have a money-saving tip or ingredient YOU can't live without? Share in the comments! 🙂
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Love your recipes but I am allergic to almonds what kind of flour should I replace it with for your recipes?
Thank you Kim!
Sorry you're allergic. A good replacement I've heard about (but not yet tried) is pumpkin seed flour If you can have other nuts, cashew flour is also fantastic (you can make your own by grinding raw cashews in a food processor). Hope that helps!
Thank you Emily!
thank you for all the tips. enjoyed reading and took notes for my shopping and where.
So glad you enjoyed it! You are welcome. Hope it helps you
Ewa - Cooking With Ewa
So useful! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I definitely need to buy some nut butters and almond flour!
Great! I’m happy to help!