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.
“I have spent the last 6 months eating exclusively organic, due to a health condition, and my grocery bill was obscenely high”
Have you felt a difference in your body from the change?
Ornella @ Moneylicious says
Some things I buy organic and others I don’t. For example, I buy organic milk and eggs–they seem to have more flavor. Vegetables I don’t buy organic.
I didn’t realize Costco has unbeaten prices in the meat department. I will have to check them out!
Considering you post about every illegal scam known to man, I think you should work on an article involving organic food. What a crock. It was like the author that had infomercials saying he could cure diseases with simple household remedies until he got sued by the FCC. The people that want you to buy organics pray on the hypocondriacs and weak minded who believe everything they read. They are no better or different than Amway or Monavie.
Just my two shekels,
Lazy Man says
Since I personally know you MJS, I will just say that I also personally know Fanny. I knew her before she had any health conditions and if she’s a hypochondriac, I’d be very surprised. Why didn’t the “condition” show up before now?
It would be extremely low on the Lazy Man’s Scam Scale. I think it might be zeroes.
Buying less junk food is a great idea. So important! I think that a lot of people overspend on junk food, and if they stop eating it, they’ll be healthier too! Thanks for the article!
I just want to add that growing your own produce and keeping hens for eggs is another way to afford organic food. I have a small garden and keep hens. Doesn’t take up too much time, plus my kids love going out in the backyard to help water the plants and feed the hens.
My kids idea of a quick snack is
goint out in the yard and picking cherry tomatoes and popping them in their mouths. LOL.
Savvy Scot says
I agree with H that growing your own can help. I grow my own Chillis and am looking into growing other Veg. The problem is the UK’s weather is so unreliable!!
Farmer’s markets always offer a good bargain