As more consumers are discovering the benefits of eating organic, the demand is growing. As a result, organic foods are becoming readily available in grocery stores, big box stores, and almost anywhere you can buy food. Sales of organic food are showing double digits increases annually. It’s more available and more affordable than it’s ever been. Saving money on organic groceries has never been easier!
Cost it often the deciding factor when families choose to purchase conventional over organic. If budget is the only thing keeping organic groceries out of your cart, try these tips to save money on organic food.
Shop Sales and Use Coupons
This may seem obvious, but it’s an important tip for saving money on organic food. Stores always have something on sale, and now that organic food is becoming more mainstream, it’s likely to be on sale too. Grocery stores usually put out a flyer weekly of their sales, so you can plan ahead. Combine coupons with a sale and you’ll save even more. Coupons can be found in paper ads, online, from the manufacturers websites, and even on social media. You can also download some apps on your phone specifically for coupons. It may be worth reaching out to your favorite organic brands to see if they have any coupons. They’re usually eager to get a product into the consumer’s hand, even if it means sending out a coupon.
Shop in Season
Certain foods grow better depending on the time of year. For example, apricots are best in May, June, and July. Grapefruit is in season from December to April. When foods are in season, they grow in abundance. When the supply is higher the cost drops, presumably to sell them before they go bad. Reversely, when a certain food is out of season, the yields are lower. If the supply is lower than the demand, the cost goes up. Pay attention to what foods are in season when you’re making your shopping list. You’ll save much more money, and the food will actually taste better too. You can freeze, can, jar, or pickle foods in season and enjoy them year round too, making the savings even greater.
Organic frozen veggies and fruits are harvested at the peak of the season, when the crop is at it’s best. Buying frozen instead of fresh allows you to have your favorite foods even when it’s off season, but still at an affordable price. They have a long shelf life in your freezer, so you can stock up when they are on sale and maximize your savings.
Shopping local means less travel for you and less transport costs for the goods you buy. A local farmer’s market or CSA (community supported agriculture) is likely less expensive than the grocery store. You’re purchasing directly from the farm or farmer, and eliminating the middle man. Some farmers use organic farming practices, but can’t afford the costs associated with USDA certification. Buying straight from the farmer, you can discuss how they grow their food or raise their livestock with them directly. Local food also means fresher products, so they will last longer than something that’s took days, or even weeks, to make it to the grocery stores. Find a farmer’s market near you, here.
Try Store Brands
With the growing demand for organic, many grocery stores are coming out with their own line of organic foods. They still have the same USDA certification, but are usually lower in price. Not only are these foods likely to be less expensive than organic name brands, they may also be less than conventional options. Store brands are often discounted further with club cards or coupons too, making the savings even greater.
Sometimes part of the grocery budget goes to convenience. It’s easy to shop at one store, but you might be paying more than if you shopped around. Look at the weekly ads to see who offers the best prices on the items you need. It might save you more money to purchase organic produce at one market and your packaged foods from another retailer. Check if your store price matches with competitors. If they do, you’ll get the savings without the extra trip.
Buy in Bulk or Join a Club
Costco recently became the largest organic grocer, surpassing even Whole Foods. Buying in bulk can be a big money saver. Wholesalers, like Costco, are able to sell products at a lower price because companies know getting their product into that store means a high volume of sales. Membership fees also contribute to savings on the products in the store. Buying in bulk tends to use less packaging per ounce, and that savings in passed onto you, as well. You can take buying in bulk even further at some specialty grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Sprout’s, who have bulk bins of organic grains, nuts, and other pantry basics at a lower price. Packaged items often cost far more their bulk counterparts. Online grocers, like Thrive Market, offer these packaged goods at significant discount. Thrive has a wide selection of organic and GMO free foods. It’s also convenient to have the foods delivered to your door, saving you time and money. Mamavation readers can take advantage of a 25% discount by shopping through Thrive Market here.
Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has an affiliate relationship with Thrive Market, a member based online shopping club that can save you 25%-50% off of retail on healthy foods and products.
Plan and Prep
Take some time to meal plan for the week ahead, or even the month. Sticking to a shopping list helps to avoid impulse buys of things you don’t need or already have. Use the sales and current coupons as a guide to your menu. If there is a killer deal on grass fed beef, maybe it’s a hamburger week. Try to use the same ingredient in multiple recipes, so there is nothing left to go to waste. You aren’t saving money when you throw groceries away.
If you’re still not sure if organic fits your budget, try making the switch slowly. You can still reduce your exposure to pesticides and GMOs by doing the things below.
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. Consider having meatless Mondays or limiting meat based meals to just a few times a week to stretch your budget further.
Shop the Clean Fifteen
Organic is better for your overall healthy and nutrition, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are some foods you don’t have to eat organic to avoid pesticides. Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list as a guideline of which foods to avoid and save money by eating more of the Clean Fifteen produce items. You can download their app on your phone to access the list wherever you’re out doing your shopping.