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20 Tips for Buying Affordable Organic Food

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If growing your own produce just isn’t something you are able to do much of, don’t fret, there are still ways to get good organic food without breaking the bank!

1. Shop at the Farmer’s Market

Do make sure you ask the farmer if he grew the produce he is selling, or where it comes from. I was surprised to find that a lot of stuff at the market has actually been shipped in from other places! So, ask.

Here’s another tip – wait until the end of the day to head over to the farmer’s market.

You may find that the selection is a bit more picked-over, but farmers often cut their prices at the end of the day so they don’t have to take anything home.

2. Join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program

What you do is buy a share in the farm, which is really just paying a weekly or yearly fee (depending on how the farm’s program is set up), and in turn, you will get so many pounds of freshly picked produce, baked goods, and fresh eggs from the farm each season.

To find a CSA near you, check out Local Harvest. Each farmer has their own prices and policies. This is a great way to get truly fresh, and often truly organic produce without the middle man!

3. Join a Co-op

There aren’t many of these around, but if you have one in your area, it may be worth checking into. These are small grocery stores that only carry local organic produce and products.

If you join, you pay a fee to buy a share in the business, this will earn you special privileges and discounts. Often, if you volunteer to help in the store you will get significant discounts on your grocery purchases as well.

o see if there is one near you, check out Cooperative Grocer or Local Harvest. Maybe you’d even like to start one in your area!

4. Buy in Bulk

Sugar, flour, grains, lentils, beans and nuts are all things that you can buy in bulk and store for future use.

Buying in bulk will often save you some extra cash; just make sure you calculate the cost to make sure it’s worth the effort. You can also split the cost with a friend and share the goods if you don’t have storage space.

Take advantage of buy-one, get-one sales, and you’ll benefit from some seriously discounted prices. If you don’t think you have room for the extra, you may want to consider investing in a second freezer.

Yes, you’ll pay more upfront, but having a bit of extra storage space could save you a lot of money down the road.

5. Buy in Season

Stocking up on produce that is in season is a great way to get more for less. Keep in mind that you can always can, freeze or dry your goods to have them handy when they are no longer in season.

6. Buy Preserved in the Winter

While the growing season is on hold, it is much cheaper to buy produce that is canned or frozen rather than continuing to buy fresh produce.

I know it’s tempting to buy those delicious looking tomatoes or bananas, but wait until the harvest is back in full swing… your wallet will thank you!

7. Coupons

Often you can find coupons for organic foods either on the company’s website or in newspaper inserts, or even inside the product’s box.

Muir Glen, Stonyfield Farm, Cascadian Farm, and Annie’s often have coupons available.

Keep an eye out for sales on these products, then snatch them up using your money saving coupons! Mambo Sprouts also has a bunch of printable coupons for organic products.

8. Transition to Organic Slowly

If you are just deciding to begin buying organic, don’t jump in with both feet; you may give your budget a shock! Start off slowly, buying a few things that your family consumes a lot of.

You may find that you’ll have to adjust your budget (or your shopping list) to accommodate the extra expense of the better stuff.

Cutting out all of the fatty junk food from your grocery trip will help make room for the quality foods your family deserves.

9. Know When Organic Is Necessary

In some cases, it may not really benefit you that much to buy organic over conventional produce.

Sure, we all want to get away from pesticides. Pesticides, by their very nature, are poison. They can cause all kinds of problems, including nausea, diarrhea, allergies – even cancer.

Buying quality organic food is important.
However, if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to make the switch all at once (as I already mentioned). Nor do you need to overhaul your entire food shopping routine.

Just start small. Look at the foods in your diet that could easily be swapped out for organic alternatives. Consider the list of the “Dirty Dozen,” which is a list of produce that tends to be most contaminated by pesticides and herbicides. Some of the “dirtiest” produce includes:

  • Strawberries
  • Kale
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Pears
  • Spinach

If you can afford it, buy the organic versions of these foods. If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider buying the conventional version of the “Clean Fifteen”, and just washing them well to remove any traces (although they’re usually pretty safe).

This safe list includes:

  • Avocados
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Eggplant
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Sweet corn
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melon

Another area in which it’s important to buy organic is any kind of meat and dairy. Since the animals used to produce these goods are large and can build up chemicals in their bodies over time, organic is best.

If you can’t afford organic meat and dairy, you may want to consider ways you can cut back.

10. Get Organized

One of the easiest ways to save money on any grocery bill – organic or not – is to get organized.

If you’re able to plan out your meals for the week (or better yet, the month!) ahead of time, you’ll be able to keep track of which items are on sale when you go shopping.

Then, you can easily incorporate them into your meal plan.

You can also come up with a monthly and weekly budget that will help you pay attention to where your money is going. Once you know how your money is being spent (and potentially wasted) you’ll be more adept at purchasing organic food, since you’ll be able to prioritize it.

11. Get Better at DIY

If you can make something yourself, do it! Sure, you can buy organic granola bars or smoothies – but it’s going to save you at on of money if you can just buy the ingredients and make them yourself.

Plus, that way you’ll have total authority and control over what goes into your foods – no stress or extra expense required.

12. When Buying Meat, Get Simple

If you want to be able to afford organic meat, one of the best ways to be able to do so is to cut out the middle man. You can do this in several ways.

First, and perhaps most simply, is by buying a whole animal rather than cuts. Don’t spend the extra money for organic chicken breasts. Instead, buy a whole chicken and parcel it out yourself. You’ll get all the chicken breasts you want, plus thighs and a carcass for soup stock, too.

Another option is to buy directly from the farmer. In doing this, you can avoid the upcharge at the grocery store for packaging and distribution.

Look for farmers in your area that specialize in organic meat and dairy – but do keep in mind that local is often far better than organic, anyway. When you buy from a local farmer, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to see how the animal was raised.

Just because a label doesn’t say organic, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t ethically raised.

Often, farmers don’t add the organic label to their foods simply because it requires more paperwork, expense, and headaches to do so.

You can still get high-quality, affordable meat and dairy – even if it hasn’t been slapped with the organic moniker.

13. Turn to the Internet

There are plenty of ways you can save money on organic food by shopping online. One way is with Thrive Market.

This website is a health food store that sells all kinds of non-GMO and organic groceries but at significantly lower prices. They’ll ship right to your door, too.

You can also find low-cost organic foods from companies like Amazon, Herbs Pro, and VitaCost, too. Even eBay sells some low-cost organic options!

14. Be Loyal

Join a grocery store loyalty program! You will often get discounts just for signing up and you can get as much as a dollar back for every 100 points you earn.

You should use rewards cards whenever possible, which will help you save money on your purchase. You can also join a buying club or wholesale club, which offer discounts on organic foods as well as regular foods, too.

15. Grow Your Own

My favorite organic food option! Growing organic food is honestly cheaper than growing conventional produce because you don’t have to pay for expensive fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Instead, you can use natural techniques like crop rotation, composting, and companion planting to care for your plants.

Start small if you’re new to gardening. Once you start growing your own, you can sell excess produce to friends and family (so you have more money to spend on organic produce that you can’t grow in your area, like bananas) or preserve it for the upcoming dormant season.

Buy non-GMO seeds for your best options.

Don’t forget that organic food goes beyond produce, too! Raise a few chickens for eggs and meat, or start raising your own livestock and raise it in a sustainable, organic fashion. Remember, you don’t need that organic label in order to do things right!

16. Don’t Waste What You Buy

While meal planning can help cut down on food waste, there are other ways to reduce the amount of waste that you produce when buying and not using all kinds of food, but especially organic food.

For example, you can line the crisper drawer of your refrigerator with paper towels. This will soak up extra moisture to help your produce last longer.

If you’re storing organic flour, pasta, or rice, put a bay leaf in the container. This will keep those dry goods fresh longer and will also repel bugs.

When storing dairy products like cottage cheese in the refrigerator, turn the containers upside down. It will create a better seal and help keep the foods fresh for longer.

If you know you won’t have a chance to eat something before it starts going bad in the refrigerator, freeze it! This will let you extend the shelf life of the food a little longer.

17. Comparison Shop

It’s going to take you ab it more time to do this, but if you value your dollar, it’s a good idea. Shop around for the best deals on organic food!

Organic produce can vary significantly depending where you buy it from. Be aware of the best deals and don’t be afraid to say no in favor of searching for another option.

18. Don’t Assume All Organic is Better For You

I already told you about how it’s often worth it to shop local rather than organic. But one other thing to keep in mind is that just because a package of cookies is labeled organic, it’s not necessarily better for you.

It still contains a ton of fat and sugar! So make sure you’re reading nutrition facts and understand whether the extra price for organic is actually worth it.

19. Buy Whole Foods Instead of Packaged Ones

Quit wasting your money on all that extra cardboard and plastic! Instead, buy foods that are as whole and unprocessed as possible. It’s not only better for your wallet – it’s better for your health, too.

20. Understand the Benefits of Going Organic

Organic foods are better for you – but not always. In some cases, organic just means a label. Other times, though, you are better off spending your money on organic food.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides, but it can still contain some chemicals (there’s a list of chemicals that are approved by the USDA for organic growers). It can often be fresher, though not always – so keep this in mind, too.

Organic farming tends to be better for the environment since it utilizes practices that conserve water and reduce soil erosion. Since fewer chemicals are used, it’s also better for pollinators.

Some organic foods can be richer in nutrients and organic food is always GMO-free, too.

Wrap-Up

So while not all of these benefits may be found in very single organic food you buy, in many cases, it is worth your money to consider buying organic when you can.

Don’t stress, though, if organic isn’t quite in your budget yet. Make the transition slowly and feel proud of yourself for what you are able to do!

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updated 05/11/2020 by Rebekah Pierce


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2 thoughts on “20 Tips for Buying Affordable Organic Food”

  1. Awesome! I’d never even heard of a CSA. I found one where pick-ups are literally down the road from my work! And at $15 a week (serving 2) for fresh, organic veggies?! I don’t think you can go wrong. I’m single (no kids) so I may buddy up with a friend to split the cost and veggies. I love the fact that it supports local farms! Thanks!

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  2. Thanks for posting the link to Local Harvest! I found that there were many farms in my immediate area that do participate in CSA, which is something that greatly interests me as long as the cost is low enough. I never would have thought that programs like this would be available in my area, and there are actually several!

    MoneySavinDiva

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