About the Author: Melissa Lanz is the founder of The Fresh 20, an online meal planning service for busy families interested in healthy eating. The Fresh 20 creates weekly meal plans using only 20 unprocessed ingredients a week to create 5 weeknight dinners for less than four dollars per serving. You can check out these great plans at www.fresh20.com
I often hear the argument that whole, organic food is too expensive for the average household. It’s a blanket statement that doesn’t account for the vast differences in the grocery industry. What I find more common is that people shop without a plan and often don’t know how to economize when shopping. Many overbuy and don’t pay attention to the costs associated with food waste. With careful shopping some items are actually cheaper in their organic form.
I can’t tell you eating healthy doesn’t require a little extra work but with some planning, it is possible to eat good, organic food within your budget.
Here’s a list of my money saving ideas when buying organic
1. Buy at the farmer’s market
Grocery stores prices are typically 30% more than buying direct from the farm at a local farmer’s market. Check Local Harvest for markets in your community.
2. Analyze portions
Only buy what you need. Almost every household I visit buys more groceries than they need for the week. Family food culture has shifted over the last 30 years and portions have gotten a little out of control. There is an art to making just enough without a surplus of wasted food and wasted money.
3. Reduce consumption of dairy and meat
Many families buy 2 pounds of meat for 4 people. That’s double the recommended portion for meat. Keep a serving to 4 ounces and buy less meat. Dairy is also a way to save. Use it sparingly and save.
4. Prep your own food
Pre-washed and pre-cut fruits and vegetables cost more than whole. In my experience, they also lack the freshness you get when you peel and wash in your own kitchen. Meal prep is one of the most efficient ways to eat well on a budget. Give yourself and hour at the beginning of the week to prep
5. Grow your own herbs
Even a small window garden can save up to $200 a year in fresh herbs which ounce for ounce are one of the most expensive ingredients at the market. Easy to grow and maintain, it’s a great way to save.
6. Use the dirty dozen list
Not every fruit or vegetable needs to be organic. Some are low on the pesticide scale and have thick skins so buying conventional is fine. Check the list here and know where you can save with non-organic purchases.
7. Buy bulk
Some pantry items such as spices are a better deal from the bulk bin than packaged. You can even bring your own containers! The best part of buying bulk is the opportunity to buy only what you need. So even though it’s considered bulk, I use the bins to buy the smallest amount possible without the expensive packaging.
8. Buy and freeze
In season produce is always going to cost less. Grab extra at the height of the season and freeze.
9. Visit ethnic markets
Prices are almost always lower at ethnic markets and the produce is typically from local sources.
We would love to hear ways that you eat organic on a budget and let us know if these tips helped and if you have any yummy organic recipes, please share!