Eating organic is no longer a fad, it’s a full blown movement. “Organic food sales are increasing by double digits annually, and more than 80 percent of parents reported buying organic food for their families last year,” said Laura Batcha, Interim Co-Executive Director for OTA. This shift towards organic makes sense considering the benefits. Not only are you eliminating pesticides, GMOs, and artificial ingredients, but you’re also getting more nutrition.
Still, with all of these reasons to eat an organic diet, there is a big reason some families don’t make the change– Cost. Organic food does have a higher price. This is due to the rigorous certification process, lack of subsidies, and other costs involved to create a quality organic product.
Some tips to cut costs while cutting down on pesticides and GMOs are:
Start with Animal Products
Meat and dairy products are the top priority when shopping organic because the pesticide levels tend to be much higher. In fact, the pesticide levels can be more than 5 times greater in conventional meat versus conventional vegetables. This tends to be the biggest portion of the grocery budget for most families, but you can also trim costs by incorporating more meatless meals into your diet.
Remember the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
Organic is better for your overall healthy and nutrition, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Start buying organic in the fruits and vegetables listed on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. You can also save money by eating more of the Clean Fifteen produce items, which safer options when not purchasing organic. There is even a handy app you can download on your phone to access the list wherever you are.
Shop in Season
Food is like any other product, it’s all about supply and demand. When fruits and vegetables are in season, there are more of them. The price is lower to sell them before they go bad. Reversely, when it’s not the ideal time for a particular fruit or veggie, the yields are lower. This means a higher cost to the consumer. The Seasons app (among others) is a great way to keep this information at your fingertips. Another great way to learn what’s in season is to shop farmer’s markets. This brings us to our next tip…
There are a number of reasons shopping local is kind on your budget. Less travel means less shipping costs passed onto you. Local farmer’s markets or CSAs (community supported agriculture) are usually much lower in cost than the grocery store. You are purchasing directly from the farm or farmer, thus cutting out the middle man. You can also talk with them directly to learn what pesticides (if any) they use. It also means fresher products, so they will last longer. Find a farmer’s market near you, here.
Buy in Bulk
This can really be a big money saver. Packaged items often cost far more their bulk counterparts. Member’s Club stores, like Costco, offer a wide variety of organic options. Specialty grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Sprout’s, have bulk bins of organic grains, nuts, and other pantry basics.
Organic frozen veggies are really a win win situation. The vegetables are frozen in season at the peak of freshness. Not only can you buy a quality product for cheaper, you can also buy it out of season. They have a long shelf life in your freezer, so you can stock up when they are on sale.
This may seem obvious, but you aren’t saving money if you’re throwing it away. Take some time to meal plan and use the same ingredient in multiple recipes, so there is nothing left to go to waste. Stick to a shopping list and avoid impulse buys to keep from buying things you don’t need or already have.
Shop Sales and Use Coupons
Sales are you friend when it comes to saving money. Browse the weekly ads from your local grocers and create your menu and shopping list off of what’s on sale. Combine this with coupons, and you’ve got the ultimate deal. Nowadays you can find coupons in paper ads, online, from the manufacturers websites, and on social media. Look around or contact your favorite organic brands and see if they have coupons you can use. They are usually eager to get a product into the consumer’s hand, even if it means sending out a coupon.
Using these tips, feeding your family an organic diet can be done on a budget. The Organic Trade Association has even created this meal plan to feed a family of four on just $25 dollars a day. It’s a great start, and we will be providing even more recipes each week to help you continue to make budget friendly organic meals.