Those who eat organic already know this simple fact: Organic food typically means higher prices. So how can you eat organic on a budget? Here are 10 ways to chip away at the costs.
1. Track the best prices
Start scouting out the best everyday price on organic items that you and your family regularly purchase and use. That means comparing the unit price on products at different stores, as well as trying the store’s organic brand, which is often lower in price.
You will also want to track what a good sales price is on the items you buy most frequently. Keeping a price book, either on a pad of paper or on your smartphone, can help you keep track of the regular price, sales price and lowest sale price.
2. Buy in bulk
Check the bulk bins and restaurant-grade food supplies at your local health food stores, grocery stores and warehouse clubs. I also recommend checking bulk pricing online to find out what types of products you frequently eat are most cost-effective to purchase in large quantities. Make sure you have the storage space or find a friend to split the costs with you. Some items that are typically good to buy in bulk include grains, nuts and beans.
3. Shop the sales
Take advantage of weekly sale prices and specials available at your store. Begin by looking at the sales circular in print or online, to find the best deals, then search for a matching manufacturer’s coupon in the Sunday paper or online. Keep an eye out for sales on key products and ingredients that are staples for your family or that you can incorporate into your meals on a regular basis.
4. Use coupons
There is a misconception that organic coupons are scarce and difficult to find. The truth is that there are more organic and specialty brand product coupons available now than ever before. Since the organic food industry has steadily grown over the years, there has been an increase in coupons for organic products.
Check your Sunday newspaper as well as your favorite organic brand websites. You can also find printable coupons from sites such as Whole Foods, HealthESavers.com and MamboSprouts.com.
5. Shop in season
Make a simple decision to incorporate in-season fruits and vegetables into your diet, and avoid expensive, out-of-season produce to save a bundle. Be sure to stock up on summer fruit, winter squash and other produce during the times of the year when the supply is large and the price is low. Price is tied to supply and demand, so plan ahead and freeze or can any surplus of seasonal produce.
6. Shop at farmers’ markets
Support your local farmers and get fresh, locally grown produce. Farmers’ markets are typically a great place to get good prices on in-season, organic fruits and vegetables. Visit LocalHarvest.org to see a directory of farmers markets in your area.
7. Grow your own
Start your own vegetable or herb garden to limit the amount of produce you need to buy at the store. A benefit of growing your own garden is that you control how they are cultivated and can control what, if any, chemicals are used.
If you don’t have a large space or garden, you can choose potted plants or try container gardening. If you don’t have a green thumb, some easy beginning plants are herbs, potted vegetables and tomatoes.
8. Know the dirty dozen and clean 15
The Environmental Working Group released a report last month analyzing USDA data on pesticide residue in 48 fruits and vegetables. If you are concerned about pesticides, then you’ll want to avoid non-organic items from the “dirty dozen.” This includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, (imported) nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, (imported) snap peas and potatoes.
However if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to buy everything organic, the “clean 15” are conventional produce items that are low in pesticides. These include sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cantaloupe, grapefruit, eggplant, kiwi, papaya, mangoes, asparagus, onions, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, pineapples, sweet corn and avocados.
9. Cook from scratch
Buying prepared foods can put a dent in your wallet, and this is even truer of pricey organic prepared foods. Easily save 30 percent or more off your grocery bill by cooking from scratch and planning your meals.
Avoid impulse buys of pre-assembled frozen entrees, bagged salads and deli-prepared foods. With just a little more effort, you can create healthier meals that are more cost-effective than pre-assembled dishes.
10. Buy online
The marketplace has changed drastically for grocery shopping over the past decade, with online retailers like Amazon and Vitacost gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers. Sign up for a free account and be on the lookout for sales and special coupons or e-mail offers.
Use these tips to chip away at the cost of organic foods. Save money without sacrificing your health, your conscious or the quality of your food.
By Laura Harders, US News;
About author: Laura Harders is the founder of Beltway Bargain Mom, one of Washington DC’s most popular sites for money-saving tips, finding the best deals and living a frugal lifestyle.