Eating organic on a budget
Organic food is generally good for your body and good for the environment. However, it tends to not be so good for your pocketbook. So, how do you do the healthy, environmentally responsible thing and still make ends meet? Read on for information that answers that very question.
If you are new to this, it might surprise you to know that you can find coupons for organic foods. The image many people have is that all organic foods come from small, local family farms, so the expectation is that they won’t have coupons. While this may have been true not that long ago, it is no longer true today. Organics are big business, grown on large farms for big name companies, and you absolutely can find coupons for them.
So, how do you find coupons? Here are some tips:
- If you have a favorite brand or company, check their website for coupons or specials.
- Follow organic companies on social media.
- Check out Mambo Sprouts, All Natural Savings and Organic Deals for both coupons and money saving tips.
- Look for coupons at your grocery store or on their website.
Plan For It
Plan ahead and get organized. Go through your coupons and weekly flyers and make a shopping and meal plan based on the items for which you have coupons and/or that are on sale. Ideally, you want to get things that you can get double discounts on: For example, buy it on sale with a coupon.
Make a budget plan and track your spending as you go along. If you are over budget early in the month and are aware of it, you still have time to course correct. But if you don’t pay any attention, towards the end of the month, you may find yourself having to choose between just not eating, eating junk or pulling out the credit card to keep eating the good stuff that’s good for you.
Frozen is Your Friend
The vast majority of the time, organic frozen produce is cheaper than fresh. In season produce is also typically cheaper. Stocking up when it is in season and freezing some portion of it can stretch your budget. If you are cooking from scratch, you can use some of the same tricks normally used to save both time and money, such as making double batches and freezing half.
Eat Less Meat
In any diet, meat is one of the most expensive individual items. If you want to protect yourself from pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, it is especially important that your meat be organic. So, if you just cannot afford to eat as much organic meat as you would non-organic meat, then reduce your consumption of meat. You don’t necessarily have to go vegetarian. You can eat some meatless meals and some not. You can also eat less meat meals, where you just reduce the portion of meat compared to what you would normally consume.
Cooking from scratch, making your own granola and eating at home are some of the best ways to keep costs down. Eating out is expensive, even if you eat junk. Organic places tend to be even pricier. Don’t buy pre-washed and ready-to-eat produce. Plan to wash it and prep it yourself. Convenience costs. Any time you buy convenience foods, you are paying extra for the labor that goes into making it easier. In many cases, this is not particularly skilled labor and you can usually easily substituted your own time and effort. If you are trying to make a budget work, the small amount of extra effort is well worth the amount of money saved.
Buy in Bulk
Whatever your staple foods are, try to buy them in bulk. It tends to be cheaper. Take advantage of buy one, get one free sales. Get as much as you need and package it yourself from the dry bulk dispensers common in many stores. However, don’t buy organic spices in bulk unless you are genuinely going to use it up quickly. Spices lose their flavor, as well as their medicinal properties, as they get stale.
There are multiple websites, such as Thrive Market, Amazon, VitaCost and Herbspro, where you can get organic foods at a discount and have them mailed directly to your home. In some cases, prices can be up to half off. You can get additional savings by checking out Retailmenot for promotional codes. In some cases, shipping is free if you spend over a certain amount, such as $25.00.
Join the Club
Get your local grocery store’s loyalty card and use the card every single time you shop. Also, register the card online and/or join their email list to help you get the most out of the program. Join a club, like Sam’s Club, that gives members discounted prices. Use rewards programs or various sorts, even cash back programs, such as on your favorite credit card.
In the end, eating organic on a budget isn’t all that different from eating anything on a budget. Many of these same strategies are the same ones you would use with any diet, with the small added detail of making sure the coupons are for organic brands and the produce you buy says organic on it. Once you get started, it isn’t so intimidating.