Are Starbucks’ New Gluten-Free and Vegan Options Worth the Prices?

I’m surprised it took Starbucks this long.

On March 21, the coffee chain announced it will now include gluten-free and vegan food items on its menu.

Starbucks has always been ahead of food trends, introducing coconut milk concoctions and bistro boxes that focus on fresh proteins as a healthy option for those on the go.

But the chain’s decision now to include the vegan and gluten-free choices seems like it’s arriving a little late to the party, but it’s better late than never, right?

Starbucks’ New Gluten-Free and Vegan Choices

Starbucks now has 11 new gluten-free or vegan-friendly menu items.

The diet-sensitive options range from a gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon breakfast sandwich and vegan sprouted grain bagel to organic avocado spread, jerky and cake pops.

I called my local Starbucks to ask how much these new items cost and, as with all luxury convenience items, they certainly aren’t cheap. The gluten-free sandwich costs $4.75 plus tax; the vegan bagel rings in at $1.50 plus tax without a spread; and the avocado spread is 95 cents plus tax.

But for those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by a gluten intolerance, the new fast food-like options are game-changing. Other big-name chains, such as McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, have yet to get on track with the diet-sensitive options.

How to Save at Starbucks While Being Gluten-Free or Vegan

Obviously, hitting up Starbucks is a luxury.

If you’re super-strapped for cash, blowing some bucks at the coffee chain isn’t in the picture.

Thankfully, being gluten-free at home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Did you know you can actually save money by not buying gluten-free alternatives? Eating gluten-free alternatives, such as gluten-free breads or muffins, can cost you big bucks. Why not just stop eating that food altogether? If it isn’t naturally gluten-free, it’s cheaper to just let it go instead of replacing it with an over-processed version of it.

Making your own items from scratch helps, too. One Penny Hoarder cut her grocery bill to $120 per week for two gluten-free people. Check out how she did it here.

If you just have to go to Starbucks and get your fix, though, the gluten-free and vegan options could add up.

Adding vegan-friendly options to your coffee, such as coconut or almond milk, can cost you an additional 60 cents or more (depending on which option you get).

Adding in the costs of the new food items, you could potentially spend $10 or more on one trip to the coffee shop — ouch.

Thankfully, there are few ways to “hack” Starbucks, including joining the rewards program or “rethinking” your drink, meaning becoming creative with how you order it. Find more tips on how to save at the popular coffee shop here.

Your Turn: What do you think about Starbucks’ new gluten-free and vegan options?

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.