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Budget Eats Low FODMAP Challenge — How To Eat Low FODMAP On $25

june, Delish’s senior food producer and resident budget eats expert, set out to cook a whole week’s worth of low FODMAP meals for herself on a $25 budget. Watch to see how she fared—and catch the rest of her series, Budget Eatson YouTube!


Y’all have been requesting this for at least a year and a half now, so we figured it was time to bite the bullet: Low FODMAP budget eats. Julia and I first discussed doing this episode a year ago—February 16, 2021, to be precise:

June Xie

There’s a good reason I kept procrastinating. For one, we went camping. And by the time summer rolled around, my kitchen was overwhelmingly cluttered by residual ingredients from recipe testing all day, every day, and I felt the itch to do a major kitchen clean-out episode. Then, after a few months of discussions, we made a collab episode with FoodShare South Carolina to see how one might cook on a small budget with the addition of food pantry boxes.

Last year ended with my mom passing away, and this year opened with a Lunar New Year celebration episode using her go-to ingredients. So now we are here, full circle, a year later, finally committing to what I’ve been dreading: no garlic, no onions, low FODMAP I can no longer escape my fate.

So what exactly does “FODMAP” stand for?

Fermentable
EITHERligosaccharides
Disaccharides
Monosaccharides
Ana
Polyols

These are different kinds of sugars that can be hard to digest for some people. They go through the small intestine and head to the large intestine, and when the gut bacteria munch on those sugars, they kick off a fermentation process that can result in unhappy things for some people, like gas, bloating, and unsatisfactory poops.

Reducing high-FODMAP foods can reduce those symptoms and pinpoint which foods may be triggering discomfort, especially for peeps who suffer from IBS and other GI conditions.

Unfortunately for me, some of my favorite foods are very high in FODMAP: legumes (which includes beans and lentils, but surprisingly not peanuts), many cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and cabbage, wheat products, lactose-laden dairy, most nuts, and even fruits like apple.

To top it all off, Julia and I also decided to tack on a no-nightshades rule to this episode, thereby eliminating things like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, which can be inflammatory ingredients for many folks, too.

I combed through my kitchen first for some “expired” items that were past their sell-by dates and came up with lots of starches: buckwheat flour, cornmeal, mochiko, and rice noodles. I hit up my local stores and grabbed some discounted $1 produce: iceberg lettuce, pineapple, oranges, as well as one large bunch of huauzontle, also known as “hair amaranth.” Failing to find natural peanut butter that came under budget, I nabbed a jar of roasted peanuts on sale and decided I’d simply grind my own.

All in all, a promising haul:

budget eats low fodmap edition grocery haul

June Xie


Huauzontle Chicken Pad Thai

budget eats low fodmap edition pad thai

June Xie

This was the highest-rated meal out of my entire week. Unfortunately, without aromatic alliums like shallots or garlic and no chili peppers nor a drizzle of chili oil, it’s still not great pad Thai. I used a chunk of belacan to add funky umami to the mix, and reinforced it with fish sauce and a sprinkle of MSG Because the chicken was already par-cooked and nicely seasoned due to its soy-sauce marinade, this pad Thai came together super quick. A handful of crushed peanuts on top sealed the deal.

Rating: 10/10

Pineapple Orange Chicken & Greens

pineapple orange chicken greens bok choy huauzontle iceberg

June Xie

It’s no surprise that this was good: we love orange chicken and we love pineapple chicken, so why not both of them together? This was a great way to inject flavor into a dish while stretching out the limited supply of meat I had for the week. Juicy cubes of pineapple gave acidity and sweetness as well as a tender bite alongside the chicken. Unable to use onions or garlic, I dug into my spice cabinet for nigella seeds, fenugreek, and asafoetida to supplement that savory class of flavors.

Paired with a trio of stir-fried greens, this was a wholesome meal that had a little something for everyone. Are you balking at the stir-fried iceberg? You might hate it or love it, but you should try it once at the very least.

Rating: 9.5/10

Cornbread Panzanella

cornbread panzanella with iceberg lettuce peanut dressing and crunchy rice noodles

June Xie

Although I didn’t rate this the highest, this salad was secretly my favorite of the week. It simply felt the most creative out of the batch. My expectations for an iceberg lettuce salad were so low that when I finally bit into this, my surprise soared higher than a trash bag in a hurricane. The combination of crisp and crunch and creamy citrus was just too much to compute logically—and you know, sometimes, irrationality is a very good thing.

Rating: 9.9/10


Pineapple Curry

budget eats low fodmap edition pineapple curry

June Xie

I really messed up the flavors here. Using my own curry powder recipe (minus the garlic and onion powders and substituting in nigella seeds for an allium-adjacent kick), I thought it would work well with the sweet, tropical pineapple flavor.

What I hadn’t thought about until halfway through the cooking process was that by default of low FODMAP restrictions and our voluntary exclusion of nightshades, approximating that classic potato curry profile without the help of onions, garlic, milk, or tomato paste would be extremely difficult.

I found the end result very jarring, sharp, and jagged in the different tastes that popped up. Nothing was really offensive in it, but none of it worked together to create a cohesive bite.

The buckwheat blini pancakes weren’t too bad, though!

Rating: 6.5/10

soba noodles

budget eats low fodmap edition soba noodle soup

June Xie

Yes, I know, it doesn’t look that bad, does it? And taking the whole dish into consideration, it really wasn’t that bad: The full flavors of the homemade chicken stock soaked into every piece of veggie and made them tenderly enjoyable. Unfortunately, the noodles completely fell apart during the boiling process, leading me to scramble for a solution to salvage the dough.

Eventually, I ended up steaming my last batch of noodles, but even then, they weren’t chewy, bouncy, or al dente. The flavor was lacking and the attempt was, all in all, an unexpected disappointment. Lesson learned: Trying to make gluten-free noodles yourself might end in momentary despair.

Rating: 6.3/10

Savory Buckwheat Mini Muffins

budget eats low fodmap edition buckwheat muffins

June Xie

I’m not sure why all my least favorites involve buckwheat, because I usually love this ingredient. These mini muffins were baked from leftover blini batter, which was undersalted when I cooked it on day two. Alas, there is no balance in my life: I over-corrected and added too a lot salt before baking it into these one-biters.

Seasoning failures aside, the texture on these was fantastic: soft, moist, with a slight chew. To balance out the sodium, I added a tiny tab of goat butter on each one before eating, which helped in making these rather edible after all.

Rating: 6.9/10

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