If you are just joining us, be sure to read Understanding Organics Part One: All Natural Does Not Mean Organic, Part Two: Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy and Part Three: Organic Does NOT Mean “Gross.”
In this last part of the Understanding Organics series, it is my hope that many of you will finally be convinced that eating organic doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Saving on organic, healthy and raw foods is something I have dedicated a lot of time to in the past years, and here are some simple ways that I have learned to save:
Set a budget.
Start a new organic grocery budget. Don’t feel like you have to budget like other people, or those that use coupons but don’t buy healthy food. For a family of four, I budget about $200 a month for our groceries. Sometimes I go over, and sometimes I stay under budget. But the important thing is that we are eating healthy. $50 a week is a really good budget for organic shopping, but there are many couponers that would probably balk at spending so much. It’s not about just saving money, but about living and eating healthier.
If you reach your budget, get creative and just do meals out of what’s available in your pantry for a week to save money. But be sure to be flexible, especially when you first start out. Some months I will spend more than $200 because I am stocking up on something. This saves me in the long-run though, so I don’t stress over it.
Cut out “junk” food.
Depending on where you are on the path to eating healthier, junk could mean something different to you than it does to me. By junk I do mean the obvious things like processed foods, fast-food, candy, sodas etc… But I am also talking about organic “junk” food. We learned in the second part of this series, that just because something has the USDA Organic seal on it, doesn’t mean it is actually healthy for you. There are a lot of processed organic foods that aren’t healthy, and they are in fact usually more expensive than raw foods. While I do enjoy some occasional Newman’s Own organic cookies, it’s not something that regularly makes my shopping list.
Add in local produce.
Find a farmer’s market and start visiting on a weekly basis. Take time to get to know your farmers, and how they grow fruits and vegetables. Many times a lot of local farmers use organic practices, but they aren’t necessarily certified (certification is expensive after all!). This way the savings is passed onto you. Visit the farmer’s market towards closing time for the best bargains, and look for fruits and vegetables that may be slightly bruised. These are best for canning and freezing purposes, and they are sold for rock-bottom prices.
Shopping at a farmer’s market also allows you to just shop in-season, which is a key factor in saving on your produce!
Add in local dairy and meats.
Some locations don’t always have this available, but if you can get local and raw dairy you will usually spend less than store-bought organics. Some farmers will sell half-cows or even whole cows that you can pay for in bulk to get a better price for your meat. Venison is also a great meat, and you can usually get an entire deer inexpensively from a local deer cooler.
Buy organic wheat in bulk to grind for your own flour.
I do this, and even though it takes time to grind my wheat about once a month, I’m content with how fresh and healthy my flour is. And I love how much money I save compared to the cost of organic flour in the store. If you have yet to try grinding your own wheat, try using a small coffee grinder before purchasing an expensive wheat grinder.
Have a small home garden.
I love how so many people are starting to have small gardens at home. This is a great way to supplement your vegetables. You don’t need to go crazy with a lot of plants to save some money. Just start with a few, and add more over the years as you get better at gardening. Some easy plants to grow for first-timers are tomatoes, green beans, peas and squash. Strawberries are a great first fruit to try your hand at growing as well.
Find local co-ops.
Finding a local produce co-op or organic co-op is another fabulous way to save money. Check out localharvest.org, Yahoo Groups or even Meetup.com to find co-ops in your area. If there isn’t anything available, find some friends and start up a co-op of your own! Put out the word on Facebook if you are still having trouble finding local resources.
No saving money post would be complete if I didn’t mention using coupons. Printable coupons, eCoupons, Coupon Codes, Tearpads, Blinkies and Peelies are just a few ways to get coupon savings. Check out the Coupon Database to look up specific coupons you are looking for, or check the Organic Coupon Resources page. New to saving money by couponing? Start by reading Coupon Basics for Newbies.
And if you think that you can’t find organic coupons, think again! Organic companies have thrown themselves onto the coupon bandwagon, and are offering amazing coupons and deals. Combine your coupons with weekly sales, and you’ll be saving good money on organic foods. If your store does markdowns on organic foods, then you can save even more!
Grab the online deals.
Most times I save more money by shopping for organic foods online than I would by using coupons in the grocery store. Many sites like Drugstore.com, TheNaturalStore.com, Alice.com and Amazon.com have organic groceries, and coupon codes can be used for saving even more money. A few other sites that have organic products are Soap.com, Diapers.com, Braga Organic Farms, Frontier Co-Op, Natural Grocers and Mountain Rose Herbs. There are many more of course, but these are just a few sites that I have shopped on.
It’s also good to check the daily deal sites like Groupon, Eversave and Mamapedia for organic deals. There is usually a new organic deal available every single day, and many are deals for groceries. Be sure to also use sites like Swagbucks and Irazoo to earn free gift cards that you can use for organic groceries.
Many of you may look at this and be overwhelmed, but all it takes is just a few steps at a time to start turning your life and health around. Start small, stick to a budget and in no time you’ll be eating organic and saving a ton of money!
Do you think it is possible to eat organic and healthy while saving money? Share your thoughts!
- Understanding Organics Part One: All Natural Does Not Mean Organic
- Understanding Organics Part Two: Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy
- Understanding Organics Part Three: Organic Does NOT Mean “Gross.”
- Baby Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle: Grow Your Own
- Baby Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle: Ways to Grown Your Own
- Beginner Gardening: Top 5 Plants to Can and Should Grow