Many people have the false belief that organic foods are a luxury that only a select few can afford. This notion is simply not true. While organic foods are more expensive than non-organic foods, they can be more affordable than you might realize. Finding ways to fit organic foods into your budget is really not much different than any other endeavor of frugality. So even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still manage to go organic if you follow just a few of these tips.
There are probably many more options for buying organic food in your community than you’re aware of. Organic organizations and associations are good starting points. Simply go to your search engine of choice, and type your state and “organic” and see what you find.
Find out whether there’s a farmer’s market near where you live. Here’s a nice website that may help you to find a local farmer’s market in your area. Try these websites too: Organic Consumers Association, Organic Kitchen, and Eat Well Guide. They too are nice resources that you can use to find sources of organic food in your area.
Remember, evolution is far better than revolution. Start off by just buying a small number of organic foods. The dirty dozen food list, is a great place to start. This list is often updated and consists of the top 12 foods that have the highest pesticides residues on them. Celery, for example, is always on that list. At the grocery store where I shop, organic celery only costs about 40 cents more than the non-organic celery when it’s in season.
Buy Store-Brand Organics
Many grocery store chains are beginning to stock store-brand organic products. Just as with non-organic foods, there is often little difference between organic store brands and organic premium brands other than the price. Therefore, these store-brand items are usually cheaper than their big name-brand organic counterparts. Furthermore, USDA certified store brands are of comparable quality to USDA certified premium brands because they are both required by law to go through the same process of certification.
The Local Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market is a terrific local source of fresh, affordable produce and numerous other organic products. You’ll find a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are usually sold at very competitive prices. In addition, produce found at the farmer’s market is often sold within 24 hours after being harvested. A tomato picked from a local farmer’s tomato plant, for example, will taste a whole lot better than one that’s traveled several thousand miles to reach your local supermarket’s produce section.
Buy in Bulk
It’s a terrific way to get more bang for your organic food buck.
Health foods stores sell many items in bulk containers, such as nuts, grains, beans, and lentils. If you store these goods in a cool, dry place, they’ll stay good for several months.
There are also lots of wholesale food stores that sell organic food. If you shop at one of these stores, buy your organic food in bulk. If you’re buying non-perishable items that have a long shelf life, this is a great option. It might even be cheaper than buying from your conventional grocery store.
If you find a good deal on organic veggies, try blanching. Vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower, are all great candidates. Buy the veggies in bulk, then blanch and freeze them. These frozen veggies will stay good for quite a long time. Blanching is another nifty way to save money on organic vegetables all year-round.
Buy Fresh Produce In-Season
The ideal time to buy organic produce, or non-organic produce for that matter, is during its natural growing season. That’s when the supplies of these produce items are at peak levels, and this drives down their prices. If you buy the same produce out of season, they can cost double or more what they would if they were in-season. On several instances, I’ve actually seen organic produce at Whole Foods that was cheaper than comparable non-organic produce being sold at the conventional grocery stores.
Buy Preserved Produce Off-Season
In colder weather, or when the produce you like is out of season, switch over to preserved foods. For example, instead of buying fresh produce, purchase the frozen, canned, or dried stuff. Besides saving you money, they often taste a lot better than the fresh stuff you buy out of season. For example, off-season store-bought tomatoes cost significantly more than they do when they’re in season, and they taste awful. You’re probably much better off buying the canned tomatoes instead when they’re not in-season.
Grow Your Own
If you haven’t done any gardening before, the key here is to start small. Some great starter veggies that are easy to grow include tomatoes, bell peppers, and radishes. The bell peppers, in particular, will save you a ton of money over what Whole Foods charges, for example. Also, the bell peppers you buy at the conventional grocery stores are loaded with pesticides. Whole Foods charges upwards of $3.00 each for one organic green bell pepper. That’s outrageous! One little bell pepper plant (they’re easy to grow, don’t get very big and they make lots and lots of peppers for several months), will save you a ton of money!
Befriend a Gardener
This can be a far better strategy than doing your own gardening. The bottom line here is that gardeners frequently have a big surplus of veggies and/or fruits that they’re often eager to give away. This is because even small plants can yield large amounts of vegetables and fruits. Therefore, if you don’t give the stuff away, much of it just goes to waste.
I used to do a lot of gardening myself, but this has been one of my best money saving tactics of them all for the past 5 or so years now. It beats the hell out of doing your own gardening for sure! My dad’s retired, so he has plenty of spare time on his hands to take up gardening. Also, my neighbor down the road, Milton, is a passionate gardener, and gardens all year around. He always has a huge garden, as gardening and drinking are his two favorite things in the world to do. He also has a very large fruit orchard.
Just by knowing a couple of great gardeners, I save all kinds of money on fruits and vegetables. I help them to cut down on waste and get plenty of freebies in the process! I get to reap the rewards of their hard work. 🙂 You can’t hardly beat that deal.
You can find some great deals with Amazon.com on the Amazon Natural & Organic section by using their Subscribe and Save feature. It can be canceled at any time and it’s another nice way to buy in bulk to save money.
There’s an internet health food store called The Green Polka Dot Box. They’ll give you free shipping on orders of $75 or more, and they’ve got a great selection. I haven’t tried them out yet, but have heard good things about them. They also offer a $50 coupon on your first order.
In conclusion, the key to saving money when buying organic is to be creative and really shop around, as there probably isn’t a one stop shop for all of the organic foods you want at the best possible prices. If you shop smartly, buy in season, and either grow a little of your own produce or make friends with someone who does, you can both save money on your food bill and eat healthy at the same time. Whoever says you can’t have it both ways is misguided indeed.
So, do you eat organic? What are you money saving strategies?
Guest Post Author Bio: This article was written by Donny Bruce. Donny is a software developer, a pool shark, a skilled chef, and a blogger. He is the founder of Extreme Money Saving, a blog dedicated to spending less money and frugal living. If you’d like to reach him, you can shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.