The following is a guest post from Fanny, owner of Living Richly on a Budget which is a blog covering frugal living… and showing you how to score some awesome deals. She has written an ebook, Eating Organic on a Budget. If you like these tips, buy the book by midnight PST, Friday 8/17/12 with the coupon code LZM for only $2.50… scoring a 50% off deal for yourself. When she’s not writing, she’s running after her 1 year old daughter or watching the latest UFC fight. I hope she doesn’t ever combine the two.
Are you trying to eat healthier but feel like organic is out of your budget? Do you feel like organic and budget don’t belong in the same sentence?
I have spent the last 6 months eating exclusively organic, due to a health condition, and my grocery bill was obscenely high. Here are various strategies I developed to lower my grocery budget while still eating organic and healthy.
1. Shop Costco or your local warehouse store.
One of my favorite places to buy organic is Costco. They don’t carry everything organic but they do have a good selection of organic products and produce.
Costco carries in season organic meats produce in bulk, at unbeatable prices. For example, at the time of this writing, tomatoes are in season. At our local Costco, I found organic heirloom tomatoes at $2.89/lb. when they are normally $3.99 – $5.99/lb. at Whole Foods.
Their prices on organic almond butter, eggs, and boxed spinach, which are available year round, are the lowest I’ve seen.
[Editor’s tip: Don’t forget the organic quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste while you are there. The quinoa is the best deal I’ve found (not that I typically look for quinoa) anywhere.]
2. Look for bargains at farmers markets.
You can find great deals at farmers markets, but it depends on which ones you go to. Some are a bargain compared to others. So it pays to go to a few in your area and do a comparison.
From my experience, farmers markets in well traveled areas with high rent, like San Francisco downtown, have higher prices. And farmers markets off the beaten path, have more bargain prices.
At our local farmers market, I can find organic kale for $1.49/bunch compared to $1.99/bunch at Whole Foods.
[Editor’s tip: Show up towards the end of the farmer’s market and bargain with the vendors. Some will want to just clear inventory and often the product is still very good.]
3. Buy from bulk bins.
If you’re not familiar with this, bulk bins are the plastic bins available at natural food stores that house raw ingredients like flour, grains, nuts, cereal, pasta, and more. You scoop the amount you want into a plastic bag or your own container and pay for it by the weight.
Since there is minimal packaging, a plastic bag, the prices on these items are lower than the packaged ones.
You can find bulk bins are Whole Foods, your local natural food store, Safeway, and more.
4. Know what to buy nonorganic.
One strategy to lower your grocery bill is to only buy certain produce organic, the ones that have been found with a high amount of pesticide residue. The fruits and vegetables with less pesticide residue can be bought nonorganic in order to save money.
You have probably come across the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. In my book, I also have a tip on an iPhone app that goes beyond this list to detail the amount of pesticide residue on popular fruits and vegetables.
[Editor’s tip: If you don’t app or that list handy, here’s some common sense advice, “The thicker the peal the less the pesticides matter.” Bananas would be very safe, while apples… not so much. (I call Shenanigans on bananas not being in the Clean 15.)]
5. Buy less junk food.
If you truly want to eat healthier, buy less processed food, soda, drinks, and packaged snacks. You’d be surprised to find out how much these things add up, especially drinks, juices, and sodas.
If you are having a hard time losing weight, processed foods and sugar, even fruit sugar from juice, could be the cause. I lost all of my post baby weight immediately, by cutting these things out.
This will leave more money in your budget to buy the organic versions of food that really matter, like organic dairy, meat, and eggs. These foods don’t have hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides which can adversely affect your health.
[Editor’s tip: Most tomato sauces have high fructose corn syrup in them. Avoid that processed junk, by using the organic diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste that you bought at Costco in the first tip. Combine one can of each and season as desired (minced garlic, oregano, etc.) for cheap, excellent organic spaghetti sauce. It’s so easy a Lazy Man could do it.]
I hope you found these tips helpful so that you’re able to eat healthy and stay on budget.