Top 10 Ways to Buy Organic Food on a Budget
The old adage that you can pay the farmer or pay the doctor is starting to resonate with the public. GMO-free foods are much more in demand, and are seen as more healthy. Buying organic food has become a hot topic over the last few years and shoppers are increasingly looking to incorporate more organic foods into their families’ diets.
The problem for a lot of people is justifying the cost of organic foods. Organic versions of some grocery items can cost more than double the price of a non-organic item. How can a family eat more healthfully without straining the budget?
Here are 10 ways to buy organic food on a budget!
1. Don’t Buy Processed Organic Food
One of the foundations of a healthy diet is staying away from anything that’s been processed. This is also beneficial in that processed foods are inherently unhealthy because of the many unpronounceable ingredients. Even when a packaged food claims to be organic, gluten-free, whole grain, natural, or any other adjective that sounds good, the fact is (with a few exceptions) packaged means it’s going to include ingredients that are not truly healthy. And the processing costs money, which makes it more expensive. To save money at the grocery store and to eat better, significantly limit packaged food purchases.
2. Buy Staple Organic Food in Bulk
Health food stores and even mainstream markets carry many kinds of organic staple foods. Instead of buying small packages, purchase items like nuts and seeds, flours, cocoa, oats, cornmeal, quinoa, and other pantry basics by the pound. Don’t buy more than you’ll need for 2-3 months to ensure stored food doesn’t get stale or lose nutritional value due to deterioration. In case you’re wanting to be vigilant against possible plastic contamination, store your bulk items in tightly-sealed glass jars. You’ll be safe from chemicals known to leech into foods from plastics, and your food will stay fresh longer.
3. Buy Organic Fruits & Vegetables at Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets can be a great place to buy organic produce. Just be sure you speak with the proprietor and confirm which items are organic. You would be surprised that many farmer’s markets have NO organic items. Just because something is sold at a farm stand does not mean the farmer has sworn off pesticides.
4. Choose Organic Fruits & Vegetables That Are Local and in Season
If you want to save the most money on organic produce, try to stick with items that are in season. If an organic item has to be grown six states away or across an ocean, it’s going to cost more because of transportation. It also may not be as fresh as local, meaning your food will spoil more quickly because it has been sitting for longer.
5. Grow Your Own Organic Food
If you have a green thumb, a great way to save money on organic produce is to grow it yourself. Whether you’re advanced enough to establish a back yard garden or just want to keep a few pots of organic herbs on the patio, growing your own organic produce can be very rewarding. And potentially less expensive than buying at the grocery store.
6. Join an Organic Farm Co-op
Purchasing a share in a farm co-op can be an expensive initial outlay, but you’ll be receiving a variety of organic foods throughout the season. Since co-op shares are generally in the hundreds of dollars, consider purchasing a share with a friend and splitting the food. This reduces the potential for spoilage and cuts your share cost in half.
7. Learn to Can Your Own Organic Food
If you decide to join a co-op or grow your own organics — or if you find a fantastic price on your favorite organic tomatoes — having the ability to preserve your fresh vegetables can save money down the road. It’s easy to do and you can be eating organic throughout the year at a very low cost.
8. Buy the Cheapest Organic Food
Instead of buying every organic item on the shelf, consider focusing your family’s diet around foods that tend to be less expensive than other organics. These cheapest organics include brown rice, eggs, apples, carrots, and onions.
9. Only Buy “The Dirty Dozen” in Organic Form
Most shoppers with experience in buying organics are by now familiar with the “Dirty Dozen,” or the 12 produce items you should always buy as organics because they have the highest amount of pesticides. This list includes: apples, strawberries, hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peaches, celery, grapes, spinach and kale or other leafy greens, nectarines, and bell peppers. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, at least eliminate these items from your diet unless they’re organic.
10. Buy Grass-Fed Meats Directly From the Farm or Butcher
Instead of buying a few expensive cuts of meat (covered in plastic!) at the grocery store, locate a local butcher or farmer and purchase in bulk. By purchasing a “half cow” or large sections of an animal, you can freeze it and eat organic for months to come. The butcher will generally break down your purchase into portion sizes. To avoid hormone disruptors like bisphenol-A, freeze your meats in glass or metal containers or canning jars. Make sure any lids are BPA-free. Unfortunately, better packaging is not as cheap as chemical-laden plastics, but they help you achieve your goal of a healthier family.
As you can see, it IS possible to buy organic food on a budget; you just have to be creative and think ahead of the game. Have any other tips? Let us know!