I often times hear,”I can’t afford organic food.” And when I tell people that my grocery bill has not gone up since going almost all organic, their response is often “that isn’t possible, organic is so expensive! How has your grocery bill not gone up?” So I decided to do a post walking you through my grocery store and showing you how I afford organic food on a budget for a family of five.
There are several key elements to shopping smart when buying organic food. For a full list, you can read my article on Organic On A Budget. 10 Tips To Help You Buy Organic Food For Less! I am going to focus on a few of these tips that will make a dramatic difference in your grocery bill. First, try to shop in season. I wanted to do this article in the winter time so you could see that most of the produce in my grocery store right now is out of season, but you still can save. I am always looking for sales, and yes organic food does go on sale! This week the sales items were oranges, cauliflower, apples, pears, and red potatoes and strawberries (that one surprised me…a little early for strawberries to go on sale, must be because of the mild winter that everyone has had and strawberry season might be starting a little early in the south.)
Organic apples this week are actually cheaper then non organic apples. For a 3 pound bag the price is only $2.99. So this week I bought 6 pounds of apples because apples will keep for months in the refrigerator.
Organic pears are always a great buy in the winter time! My girls call them the winter fruit, because we eat pears all winter long. Buy what is inexpensive for that time of year in your area. For example. Usually strawberries are not inexpensive in the winter and organic strawberries go as high as $8.00 a pound in the winter time. So we simply do not eat strawberries in the winter time. Do we miss them? Sure, but they taste so much better when in season anyways so we would much rather wait until they are at their peak and taste their best!
Look at the price on these pears. Again, they are cheaper then the non organic pears. I bought another 6 pounds of pears. This variety is crisp and doesn’t ripen fast, so they will last for a month or even more in the refrigerator. Stock up when items go on sale.
I always plan my menu after I shop. Most people plan before they goto the store, but I find it is better to do this after and plan your menu around the sales items. Cauliflower was an incredible price this week, so I bought 2 heads and plan on making my organic cauliflower soup and roasted cauliflower poppers.
Red potatoes and grass fed beef are both on sale, so I might make my Grass Fed Sloppy Joe’s Recipe and some homemade baked french fries.
Another important note that I want to make is be sure to shop around! If you notice, all of my prices are pretty low and reasonable. The bag of potatoes you see is only $2.99. That same bag up the street about 5 miles is $7.99, same brand, same amount (3#)! I find that the local co-op or a locally employee owned grocery store to be the most economical way to go.
Now I usually only shop the perimeter of the store. In the middle of the store are all the dead foods which are primarily in boxes and have a ton of ingredients in them. Stick with whole foods and foods that have a short shelf life. This helps me save time and money. I can typically get in and out of the grocery store in less then a half hour. I am not tempted to buy the foods that are in these isles because I simply do not go down those isles. Most grocery bills go up dramatically by purchases you had no intentions on buying because they are marketed to stand out to you. If you don’t go down the isles, you won’t be tempted.
I do go down one isle however and that isle is the natural and organic food isle. Here is where I purchase my unrefined sea salt, sprouted grain english muffins, pure maple syrup, oatmeal, sucanat, whole grain flours and other baking items I might need.
Think about buying the bigger size. The little redmond’s salt shaker was over $3.00 and I got 4 times as much by buying the larger package for a much more reasonable price. Most stores have the price per ounce or price per unit, and you can compare the prices that way. Shop smart. Salt will last a very long time, so this is an item I buy in bulk.
Here is my cart when I was finished with my grocery trip. Is it perfect, no…but it is the best that I can do for the winter season. Keep in mind, I save a lot of money buying eggs,milk, beef and chicken from local farmers, but notice, I have organic eggs, beef and chicken in my cart right now. Eggs, I can not get right now, it is to cold for chickens to be laying right now, so store bought will have to do. Beef, I am out of ground beef and have a quarter side coming in 2 weeks. I ran out of my raw milk so until I can make it to the dairy farm, organic will have to do.
There are a few things I just haven’t quite given up and gone organic with , one being my Dunkin Donuts coffee. I just LOVE that stuff. All in due time. You are most likely to stick to something if you change gradually. It took me over 2 years to convert to all organic, and technically, I have a little ways to go 🙂 My bill came out to be $147 (which included toilet paper and paper towels located on the bottom of the cart, in bulk of course)! My grocery bill will go down quite a bit when I start growing my own produce in the spring and start buying at the local farmers markets which opens up here in about 6 weeks.