There’s a lot of hype about organic food, and for good reason. Organic produce is grown with fewer pesticides and contains higher amounts of nutrients and antioxidants. Organic meat means better conditions for the livestock and poultry. So why doesn’t everyone eat organic? The higher cost is usually the most stated reason for not going organic. Luckily, for those of us on a budget, there are ways to eat organic without breaking your wallet. Here are our best strategies for saving money on organic groceries.
Eat Less Meat
Meat and poultry are going to be your biggest costs when going organic. When buying protein, most estimate about 6-8 ounces per person. By cutting portions to 4 ounces, or even 3 ounces, you can save a great deal on your organic meat. Substitute the missing portion with extra vegetables, legumes or whole grains for a well-rounded and healthy meal that will still fill you up.
Learn To Love Legumes
Besides cutting your portions, you can also substitute meat and poultry for other protein: legumes! Not only do they pack a punch with nutrients and protein, they are a good source of fiber and are low in fat. Cut meat recipes with lentils, or use different beans to make chili, salads and soups.
Buy A Whole Chicken
If you have the option of purchasing the whole bird rather than just the thighs or the breast, jump at the opportunity. Organic poultry is already typically more costly than its non-organic counterpart, and buying pieces of the bird is even more expensive. Buy the entire chicken, and utilize every last bit. Season and roast the entire chicken in a slow cooker or oven. You can cut off the breasts or thighs and cut into chunks or shreds. The meat can be eaten as is, on salads, in sandwiches – the options are endless. Once you’re done eating all the meat, use the leftover bones, plus any vegetable scraps you have to make your organic chicken stock.
Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to save money on organic produce. Produce that is grown locally often has less pesticides, is cheaper since it doesn’t have to travel far to get to the store, and you get the added benefit of supporting local farmers.
Grow It Yourself
What’s even better than buying local? Growing your own organic produce! If you have the room to plant your own garden, you could stand to save even more money than you could be shopping smart. Do a little research about which fruits and vegetables should be grown in each season before planting your seeds. Don’t have room for a full garden? Plant a couple of veggies or herbs in a planter box or container on your balcony or windowsill.
Look For Frozen Alternatives
The freezer section may be your best friend for deals on organic fruits and vegetables. Wait for sales on bagged produce and stock up. An added bonus to buying frozen? You don’t have to worry about spoilage and wasted food.
You should be able to find organic options at many supermarkets and other big name stores in your area. Besides making it easier to obtain organic fare, it also gives you the benefit of being able to comparison shop. Produce, as well as meat, can vary greatly in price within the same city. Check out larger supermarket chains and natural food and health stores and compare prices on the items that you need before making big purchases. This will help give you an idea of which stores have the best prices so you can use your shopping dollars wisely.
Shop Store Brands
Most major market chains have their own store brand of certified organic food. Besides comparing prices between stores, also check for store brand organic options and compare those. You could stand to save even more compared to the more well-known brand names.
Browse The Big Box Stores
Many big box retailers are coming out with their own organic food lines to make organic items more available and more affordable. Also look for coupons that can be used at these stores for even more added savings.
Browse Bulk Bins
Some grocery stores have them, most health food stores do too. Bulk bins are a cheaper alternative to buying packaged items. Stock up on organic oats, flour, pastas, rice and quinoa. You may also be able to find organic dried fruit and trail mix for inexpensive, healthy snack options.
Pass On The Junk Food
Yes, there is such a thing as organic junk food. Chips, ice cream and cookies can all be found in organic versions now. Just because they are labeled organic doesn’t mean they are good for you. These items are high in calories and unnecessary. Spend your money on food that organic and healthy. If you must have snacks, look for ones that are as close to their natural form as you can, and eat it in limited amounts.
Skip The Foliage
What?! Salads are good for you and an easy-to-find organic item. However, they are also the number one tossed out food item. If you find you often end up tossing your greens out because you can’t eat it in time or just plain forget about it, save some money be skipping the organic lettuce or baby spinach. Instead, stock up organic frozen vegetables or in-season vegetables that last a long time in the refrigerator.
Eating organic isn’t just the latest fad. Organic food is grown with less pesticides and chemicals, and is just all-around better for you. It does come with a higher price tag though. Luckily, by following these tips, you can save yourself some money when buying organic so that you and your family can eat a little bit healthier.