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When you hear the words ‘Organic Food’, do you automatically think ‘Expensive Food’? Yep. That’s exactly what I used to think. And if you’ve found this article, I’m guessing you are interested in eating organic but without the hefty price tag!
Organic food is becoming more and more widely available these days, with organic grocery stores opening up all the time. Maybe you have already googled ‘organic supermarket near me’ to try and find one with reasonable prices!
But I’m here to share with you some top tips that I’ve learnt that have shown me that you CAN eat organic on a budget! With a little bit of know-how, you will know your way around the grocery store to find the best foods so you can stay healthy without breaking the bank.
First, we will briefly review what the label Organic really means because that’s very important in choosing the right produce to buy! Then I’ll share some easy ways that you can implement to start eating organic on a budget. Let’s get into it!
Understanding what the term Organic means is the first step in enabling you to eat healthy on a budget. Organic means that the produce is grown without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They are also always non-GMO (Non-Genetically Modified Organisms).
Knowing this will help you to know precisely what you are about to buy and determine whether it is actually organic and healthier than the conventionally grown product.
Some produce is more likely to have been grown or sprayed with chemicals than others during the growing process, so it’s more important to look for organic versions of these products. But we’ll discuss more about these later!
Now we know what organic means, we can start getting into the budget-friendly organic shopping tips, starting with:
Eating in season is one of the best ways to save money on your grocery shopping. The more out of season it is, the more expensive that product will be, especially when it’s organic. So try to aim for products that are in season.
It takes some discipline to eat seasonally. For example, when fruits like blueberries and strawberries are out of season, the price of these organic fruits can double! So during this time, if you want to stick to your budget, you might have to sacrifice these items until they are back in season.
However, the sacrifice is definitely worth it, as eating in season not only reduces demand and supports local farmers, but it is also better for your body to provide you with all the right nutrients you need during every period of the year!
Cut Down on Waste
Food waste! I think we are all guilty of it…that bag of potatoes we forget was lurking in the pantry, or that big pot of pasta we made but just couldn’t finish, so it went in the trash! It can take some careful planning and conscious effort, but by buying only what we need, managing our pantry and being mindful about food storage, we can reduce our waste and save a lot of money in the process!
There's some excellent advice on the NSW Government ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ website on Reducing Your Food Waste At Home.
Avoid Ready Meals!
As tempting as it is to buy pre-prepared food, it’s not the best option. True, it may save some time, but it will not save money! Convenient foods will be pricier than buying the ingredients yourself, plus you don’t know what’s gone into them, so you can’t always be sure that they are 100% organic.
If you want to eat healthier, it’s always a good idea to prepare as many meals as possible yourself at home. This way, you can save money on pricey ready meals and also know precisely what is going into your food!
Cut Down on Meat
If you are already a vegan or vegetarian, this one will be easy for you! But if like me, you do enjoy eating meat (especially bacon!), then this one might seem like an absolute no-no. However, I’ve learnt that to eat organic on a budget, you don’t have to stop eating meat altogether! Even just eating one or two vegetarian meals per week can be a great help in saving money.
You could also simply try reducing the amount of meat you put in each meal to make each cut stretch a bit further. Buying cheaper meat cuts is another excellent way to reduce your bill.
Avoid the Dirty Dozen
Earlier, we mentioned how some foods receive more chemical exposure during the growing process than others. This means that if you want to eat organic on a budget, certain foods are more important to buy organic than others. These are commonly referred to as the ‘Dirty Dozen’!
This group of high-chemical exposure products includes berries, apples, and leafy greens. It also includes hot peppers, tomatoes and celery. A good rule of thumb is that any food where you can eat the skin is usually part of this list. It’s highly advisable to buy foods from this ‘Dirty Dozen’ list in its organic form only.
Buy the Clean Fifteen
We’ve talked about what foods never to buy unless they are organic. Now, let’s talk about the safe foods where you can get away with buying the conventional versions! This list is usually called the ‘Clean Fifteen.’
These are foods that have the lowest levels of chemical contamination. Therefore, if you want to save money on your grocery bill, you can get away with buying the conventional versions of the following foods:
Avocados, Onions, Papaya, Sweet Peas, Broccoli, Rockmelon, Mushrooms, Kiwi, Honeydew, Cabbage, Sweetcorn, Pineapple, Eggplants, Asparagus, and Cauliflower.
Most produce that has thick skin is less likely to be high in chemicals and pesticides.
By using these two lists, you can shop mindfully and eat the best produce for your money.
Choose the Right Supermarket
Of course, one of the most essential steps in budget shopping is finding the right supermarket to shop at! This could mean the one with the best prices, but it can also mean choosing a grocery store with good value for money.
Shopping local is always the best idea. However, many conventional supermarkets do not source produce locally, so you made need to look around a little more to find a place that does. You can find one in your area by searching ‘organic grocery store near me’ or asking others for recommendations.
I hope these suggestions have shown you that eating organic is possible no matter your budget! The best way is to start with small steps and build from there. Even just starting to eat a little more organic food is better for your body and the planet!
So stay food smart, eat in season, choose the right supermarket near you, reduce waste, and enjoy your delicious but affordable organic adventure!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Marc Davey