I am very passionate about eating organic food. Just what is organic food? Organic food is grown or raised without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicide, or fertilizers. There are so many reasons why to convert to organic food, I will save that for another post. In this post, I want to focus on ways to save when buying organic food. It can be hard to convert fully to an all organic diet, do it in small steps. You are more likely to stick with it if you gradually switch over to organic food. I am often asked “How do you afford organic food, it is so expensive!” My reply often surprises people when I tell them that my grocery bill is about the same as when I didn’t buy organic food. Really, it can be done. Here are 10 simple tips to help you transition to an organic diet.
1. Buy from your local farmers markets. There are so many great deals at framers markets. You can find local meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, fruits and many other goodies. The food is fresh and grown locally and you have direct access to the farmers where you can ask questions about how they grow their food.
2. Buy a CSA share. A CSA is a community -supported agriculture program. I have just signed up for a weekly delivery from my local CSA. Every Wednesday I get a new box of fresh produce delivered to my door. In the box is a variety of seasonal produce, so my boxes are always changing. Variety is good. I have tried so many new vegetables and fruits that I never would have purchased thanks to my ever changing boxes. For about $25 a week, I have enough produce to get me through the week. Different sizes of boxes are available for different sizes of families.
3. Join a co-op. Knowing the source of the foods you eat, the services you employ and the products you purchase are just a few of the benefits of joining a cooperative. From the outside, many co-ops look like any other business, since a co-op provides products and services like conventional businesses do. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes it different. A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes. Rather than rewarding outside investors with its profits, a co-op returns surplus revenue to its members in proportion to how much they use the co-op.
4. Buy in bulk from local farmers. I buy my organic beef, chicken and eggs from local farmers in bulk. What do I mean by “in bulk?” For my grass fed beef, I buy a quarter side of beef. This is 1/4 of a side of a grass fed cow. From this quarter side I will get about 40-50 pounds of ground beef, 6-7 T-Bones, 6 Porterhouses, 10-15 Roasts, Short Ribs, Soup bones if you want, 7 Round Steaks, 10 Sirloins, 8 Ribeyes. Be sure to shop around. Prices range from $2.25-$4.99 per pound of hanging weight. I also buy my organic chickens locally. If you look in a grocery store, organic chicken can price at $9.99 a pound. Through local farmers, prices range from $2.00-$5.00 a pound. To find a list of your local farmers, visit The Weston A Price Foundation.
5. Shop in season. Organic produce can vary significantly in price depending on when you buy it. For example, organic strawberries in the spring are just $3.29 a pound in my area. In the winter months it nearly doubles to $7.99 a pound. By shopping in season, you can save a lot of money. Oftentimes you can substitute ingredients that are out of season with new ones that are in season. You might even like the recipe better by changing to more flavorful, in season ingredients.
6. Always comparison shop. In my area, I can get a 3# bag of organic potatoes for $7.99 and just up the street about 5 miles I can get the same bag of 3# potatoes for $3.99. It is important to comparison shop to get the best deals.
7. Create your meal plan around the most affordable produce, meats and sales items. Organic does go on sale, especially when in season.
8. Grow your own organic food. I have my own organic garden that produces so much of our families organic produce. You can grow a lot of produce with just a little time and very little space. You can read my article to learn how to start your own organic garden. By growing your own organic food, you can save so much money! It really is so rewarding bringing your own food to the kitchen table!
9. Preserve your food when it is in season. Preserving your food when in season is a great way to save money, especially in the winter months. Did you know that peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and many other foods can be frozen whole, sliced, or chopped. You can also learn how to can/preserve your own food. This past year, I canned tomato sauce, green beans, apple and pear sauce, pear slices, and much more! I have several tutorials showing you how easy it is to preserve your own food. It may take you a little time up front, but it will save you a lot of money down the road!
10. Transition gradually to organic food. It takes time to make permanent changes in life. You are much more likely to succeed if you slowly make this transition. Start with foods that have the highest amounts of pesticide residue. These are oftentimes called the “dirty thirteen.” They are:
- Imported Grapes
- Red Raspberries
- Bell Peppers
- Hot Peppers
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
With these 10 simple tips, you will be on your way to eating organically for a very reasonable price. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comments section below. We would love to hear your feedback.