As many of us scrutinize our finances, it’s important to not overlook one of our most important investments, our health. Non-organic food often contains cancer-causing hormones, immunity destroying drugs and dangerous pesticides. Pesticides are poison and can kill us. So when given the choice, I don’t know why anyone could logically buy food with poison sprayed on it? In hopes to mitigate the initial money pains of buying organic, we want to share the top organic money saving ideas that we’ve gathered for you.
1. Buy in bulk
Take advantage of the ‘buy one get one free’ sales or buy one get the other product for a discounted price. You never know when that same product will go on sale again, so make sure to take advantage of it and store to use it later.
(This trick only works if you really love this food and it is a staple at your home, otherwise this will lead to wasted money). Always buy packaged products on sales. Look for smaller organic spice packets or jars, because old spices lose their medicinal qualities so it is smarter to buy in smaller packages.
Buy the whole animal and freeze the rest of it. Many people who are on a budget do this all the time. It is also a good idea to contact your local farmer and then split the cost with a group.
2. Make smart choices
Meat & dairy (animals products like cheese, butter, yogurt, chicken, eggs, milk, etc.) are the most important to eat organic because of the combined risk of cancer causing growth hormone, pesticide, and drugs exposure.
Whatever you do, just don’t skimp here. If you cannot afford organic, reduce meat and dairy consumption. For instance, eat a green smoothie for breakfast with toast, and then a large salad with lentils at lunch, or a wrap made with hummus and then at night choose high-quality meat in small amounts.
Reduce the amount of organic meat used by substituting half the portion with organic beans. Buy a whole organic animal for less per pound, vs. just the breast, legs or wings which are more expensive per pound. Do not buy pre-washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies, as they can cost twice as much.
3. Start your own organic garden
If there are no good cooperatives and the stores in your area aren’t very cheap, it is a great idea to start your own garden and see what you can grow yourself.
You’d be amazed what you can grow with a little hard work and a lot of sunshine. Good plants for beginners are cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, Swiss chard, strawberries, and all kinds of different herbs.
The most important thing is to have some good soil and a spot that gets the sun all afternoon. The biggest thing about gardening is that no one knows everything, so the best thing to try for yourself. Put some seeds in the ground and wait. If you get a good harvest, you can save a bundle on your organic grocery bill.
4. Use your freezer
The organic frozen produce at the store cost much less than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. You should freeze all left overs using inexpensive mason glass jars or silicone ice molds for smaller amounts.
Freeze your homemade cookie dough and other foods like almond freezer fudge, so you can have them ready to go in the appropriate portion size. Search for a local produce when in season and freeze them to use out of season; for example in the spring and summer spread blueberries on a sheet pan and freeze overnight and then store in jars for later.
Double your recipes and freeze leftovers; this works great also with soups and stews. Freeze core kitchen staples like bread scraps, butter, cheese and bread crumbs or homemade croutons.
5. Choose organic brands that save you money
Choose less expensive grocery store brand products.
Regardless of the brand, they all need to follow the same laws set forth by the USDA organic certification program if products have the USDA organic seal, and chances are that you won’t notice the difference between a brand name and store brand.
Be a member of grocery store loyalty programs for discounts. Always use your rewards cards. Most convenient stores, drug stores, and grocery stores allow you to sign-up for a savings card or rewards that will help you save your money on a few of your items at the checkout counter. Even if this time of purchase doesn’t contain organic food, you will save the extra money on your items and buy another time.
6. Buy local
Local food can be significantly cheaper than food shipped from miles away. Find a farmers market near you and get to know your local farmers, create a personal relationship and negotiate prices.
Ask your farmer about his farming methods. Some farmers don’t spray pesticides on their crops but they also do not seek USDA certification to keep prices lower. Try to be the last person to leave the farmer’s market.
They will certainly cut their prices at the end of the day, so they don’t have to take their foods back to the farm. Try buying a share in a community-supported agriculture program. It’s nice to contribute to operating expenses of a local farm while getting a weekly box of fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
7. Travel with organic food
Remember, a pricey restaurant doesn’t equal organic or quality food – going to a grocery store and buying organic food will save you money and your health.
Bring your organic food with you in a cooler – even if you’re flying. Bring organic tea with you and ask for hot water. A cup of tea can cost up to $5 dollars, vs. $1 dollar you would tip the barista or server.
Wherever you go, bring filtered water with you in a reusable safe water bottle so you don’t have to have to buy expensive bottled water. Always carry your homemade snacks in your purse. At the movies, bring your own organic popcorn or snacks if you can’t buy them there. There is no reason to pay a premium for conventional food.
8. Stay organized
Plan out your meals focusing on organic foods that are on sale or that you have coupons for. It is a good idea to write your weekly and monthly budget to help you keep track of both responsible spending and erratic spending.
This will allow you to see your spending habits and help you prioritize buying organic food within your budget. Rather than buy it, do it yourself. Be creative. Make your own organic smoothies, granola bars, juices and kale chips to replace store-bought with organic ones.
Learn how to portion and prioritize. It is a must to always buy organic dairy products and meats, and therefore, learn to portion your consumption of these foods each week. For instance, keep meat to 4 ounces or less per serving.
9. Know what you’re paying for
If you’re going to pay you foods more, you have to make sure what you’re getting is really better. Marketers will try to trick you at every turn with their “natural” labels.
But, even “hormone free” and “free-range” is not the same as “organic” foods. These labels might be true, but they are also not regulated by law. So make sure you’re buying foods with a “100% organic” label, meaning that they don’t contain synthetic ingredients.
“Organic” is also really good, which means the product must have no less than 95% organic ingredients. “Made with Organic Ingredients” simply means that they contain at least 70% organic ingredients, but who knows what the other 30% is. Fruits and vegetables are where you should spend the most of your money because they’re the most likely to contain pesticides. Anything that kills bugs is probably not safe for you either.
10. Find deals online
More companies are starting to have spectacular online deals for organic foods and green products. Search online or check for postings in your local health food store for an opportunity to buy your organic foods online.
Online stores can offer better deals than their brick-and-mortar counterparts because their business expenses can be much lower. Many don’t have to pay rent on a storefront, for example, and they can run their business with fewer employees.
So because of that, organic sellers can often offer better deals on organic food than you’ll find at your neighborhood store. One downside of buying online is that shipping costs eat into your savings. So that’s why it is usually a better idea to buy in bulk.
11. Don’t waste food!
Don’t wash organic dark leafy greens or berries until they are ready to eat. Turn sour cream, tahini, almond butter, yogurt, and cottage cheese containers upside down when stored in the fridge, because this creates a vacuum seal, keeping your food fresh longer.
Store herbs, asparagus, and spring onions, upright in a glass filled with water. Search for tips and recipes on how to use over the edge food. For instance, Panzanella with stale bread and banana bread with overripe bananas.
If you know you won’t have a chance to eat it, freeze your food before it goes bad. Try to eat less, use a smaller plate to help you control the amount of food you might eat and so avoid wasting. Compost all food waste to put nutrients back in your garden (you will spend less on fertilizer).
12. Purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables that are in season
By buying locally grown produce in season you not only save your money on the distribution costs, but you also will enjoy foods that are more nutritious and taste better.
If you have a farmer’s market in your area, you should visit it and meet the people who grow the organic food. Many may not offer foods that are labeled as organically grown (because of the expense of having their farm certified as organic) but may grow their produce using the same principles.
Also, you should look into whether there are any Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs) in your area. These groups are a way to support and buy organic foods directly from farmers; because you make a commitment to buy for the growing season, it’s usually less expensive.