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.

RELATED: The healthiest foods at Starbucks

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9. Vanilla scone (120 calories, 8 grams of sugar) 
8. Chocolate cake-pop (140 calories) 
7. Fruit salad (90 calories) 
6. Hearty veggie and brown rice salad bowl (430 calories, healthy fat and protein) 
5. Nonfat latte (100 calories in a grande, 10 grams of protein) 
4. Skinny cappuccino (61 calories in a tall) 
3. Egg white, spinach and feta wrap (19 g of protein, 10 g of fat, 33 carbs) 
2. Reduced fat turkey bacon and egg white sandwich, (16 g of protein, 230 calories) 
1. Whole grain oatmeal (160 calories without the toppings) 
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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?

RELATED: The 10 worst deals at Starbucks

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10 worst Starbucks deals

1. Coffee Beans and Grounds

If you're looking to brew some Starbucks coffee on your own, skip out on heading to the brick-and-mortar store to buy it.

"Starbucks sells 16-ounce packages of whole bean and ground coffee for $11.95 to $14.95, depending on the blend," said Perez. "However, 12-ounce bags of the same blends can be fetched for as little as $7.95 at Target, while Albertson's has been known to offer a sale price of just $6.99. [The] bottom line: Do not buy your bagged Starbucks coffee from Starbucks."

Also, not only is the in-store coffee priced higher than you would find at other retailers, but if you shop on the Starbucks store online, you can often find coupons that can take off as much as 20 percent off your entire order, said Sherin.

Via GOBankingRates

2. Starbucks K-Cups

Like Starbucks coffee beans and grounds, Starbucks K-Cups are generally not worth the purchase. K-Cups are the small plastic pods your Keurig might use to make a serving of coffee. And, although brewing coffee at home is usually an easy way to save money, it's not with K-Cups.

"Never buy these from an actual Starbucks location," said James. "You can always find them much cheaper at Costco."

3. Travel Mugs and Drinkware

Starbucks-brand drinkware is another "deal" that isn't a smart choice for your wallet. "Impressive displays of coffee mugs, tea kettles, French presses and other coffee and tea accessories are tempting for those waiting in line for drinks, but are best skipped," said Perez.

"Most coffee mugs start at $9.95 and cost upwards of $29.95," she added. "The Limited-Edition travel mugs are an especially bad deal — priced between $70 and $74.95, these mugs further Starbucks' obsession with Swarovski crystals and make absolutely no sense at all."

If you want to buy Starbucks drinkware, approach it like buying Starbucks coffee beans for home, said Sherin. "Shop other online retailers like Amazon, or find a coupon for the Starbucks store online to save even more," she said.

4. Starbucks Gift Cards

Starbucks gift cards stare you in the face every time you reach the cashier. Although they are a great gift to receive, you can save on them by purchasing elsewhere.

"Buying gift cards can be a big mistake if you purchase through a retailer," said Sherin. "Use sites like Raise.com or Cardpool.com and you can find discounts as much as 10 percent off."

5. Premium Gift Cards

Speaking of gift cards, Starbucks offers special ones around the holidays — but they're more a money trap than a deal, said Mark Mazza, co-founder of PromoCodeWatch.com.

For instance, Perez said, "Every holiday season, Starbucks comes out with a high-priced gift card which costs $200 but only has $50 preloaded. Trust me, no one on your shopping list wants you to pay $200 for a $50 value, even if the card is made of stainless steel or encrusted with Swarovski crystals.

6. Bottled Water

Bottled water is definitely not a Starbucks deal. There's no reason to spend up to $5 on Ethos or Fiji water when you can get triple-filtered water for free, said Perez.

7. Bistro Boxes

Another Starbucks item to be wary of are its lunch bistro boxes.

“Five dollars for a few crackers, cheese cubes, grapes and a hard-boiled egg is not a good deal, given how inexpensively these items are at your local grocery store,” said Perez. “Starbucks' latest offering of lunch, two snacks and a bottled water for $8, is a bit easier to swallow...still, you can pack all these things from home and save your money for a fancy latte."

8. Prewrapped Sandwiches

Along with Starbucks lunch boxes, the cafe's expensive pre-wrapped sandwiches are another deal to avoid.

“They display these nicely wrapped sandwiches that look nice and have quality ingredients as you wait in line to hook you,” said Mazza. “Coffee is relatively cheap, so selling you an overpriced sandwich that costs as much, or more, than your drink order is an obvious score for them."

9. Breakfast Sandwiches

Continuing on the sandwich theme, Starbucks breakfast sandwiches should probably not be on your list of things to buy. They look fresh in the display, but Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, as well as many other food items, are simply overpriced for the quality.

10. Blended Crème Frappuccino

Unless you’re a child or watching your caffeine intake, blended crème Frappuccinos don’t make sense for your money. "It's basically a $5 vanilla milkshake, and not a very good one at that. Way too much ice in this thing and not enough thickness," said James. Blended crème Frappuccinos will cost you in calories as well, considering a 16 oz. vanilla bean grande frappuccino packs 400 calories.

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

The Penny Hoarder is one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.

This post originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

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