If you already buy organic or you’re thinking about transitioning to an organic diet, you’re probably aware that buying organic can be a strain on your wallet. Making good choices for your health doesn’t have to mean making poor choices for your finances. With some smart shopping using these strategies, you can be mindful of your budget and still steer clear of harmful pesticides and chemicals.
- Buy in bulk. By joining a co-op or discount wholesale club, you can buy organic food in bulk and save big. If you’re worried about not being able to finish your stash at its freshest, you can always freeze your fruits and vegetables. Make sure to whip out your calculator when making bulk buying decisions, though. Sometimes that 5 lb. bag of chocolate chips isn’t actually less expensive than the more manageable size at your conventional supermarket. Do the math! Hint: Generally for grains, lentils, beans and nuts, volume sizes are more economical.
- Order online. It may seem counterintuitive to order your food online, but especially for snacks, cereals, cleaning products, and even beauty products, why not? Prices are often competitive and online stores carry a wide array of organic products to select from. Try Mambo Sprouts or Amazon, for example. Our online Pantry is also full of tasty organic products – from our teas to our sweet and savory spreads.
- Join a CSA. By becoming a member of a Community Supported Agriculture club, you can buy a share of produce or dairy products from regional farmers, and usually at a big discount when compared to supermarket prices. Support your local farmers and get the freshest, seasonal products available. Check out http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for CSA programs near you!
- Grow your own. Consider starting your own garden. Whether you plant herbs, veggies or fruits, you can see big savings this way and you know exactly how fresh and organic that produce is.
- Buy in season. Flavors are at their very best and in-season produce is often priced lower. Win-win.
- Pick your battles. If you can’t afford all organic, be discerning with which items you buy organic. Fruits and vegetables with thin skins generally absorb the most pesticides. Choose organic meats, cheeses, and milk first. These items are worth the price tag of organic since they have the highest concentration of pesticides when non-organic. Bananas, on the other hand, are thick-skinned and less likely to have absorbed any potentially harmful chemicals.
- Buy supermarket brands. When you’re shopping at your supermarket, choose the in-store brand over the private label. Many supermarkets are going organic and must follow the same organic guidelines so be sure to take advantage of their lower prices.
- Shop at farmers’ markets. Head to the farmers’ markets! Although you may not see organic labels and USDA seals of approval, you can talk to farmers about their practices and confirm that they don’t use pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Produce at farmers’ markets is often fresher and because it uses less packaging, it’s also more eco-friendly.
Consider making the switch, if you haven’t already. There are plenty of ways to avoid splurging when choosing organic food.
Did we miss any money-saving tips? Share your strategies with us!
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