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How to Buy Organic on a Budget

 

Walking into the produce section, you pick up an organic apple. Noticeably less shiny and engorged than its traditionally grown neighbor in the next crate, you think, well, I am getting more for less if I buy this sparkling giant. However, you are wrong and you know it. If this is a problem for you, train yourself to think about pesticides every time you note the several cent (okay, maybe sometimes it’s almost a dollar) difference between one fruit and another. In the long run, though, you will be grateful you chose the better food.

Organics don’t always have to be expensive. They are sold in nearly every large grocery store no matter where you live. It’s a great lifestyle choice that everyone should make to live longer and avoid toxic chemicals. I’ve even noticed many organic items listed in stores as food stamp items, which is nice to know that the government sees recognizes a need for health among those on financial assistance.

To pay less and get better ingredients, you first have to find the foods you enjoy. Once you have identified what you like, it will be easy to select its organic alternative. If you’re a cook, the store is your oyster – most any recipe can be modified to include nutrient-rich, organic foods. Research online first for healthy substitutes so you don’t wander the aisles and buy unnecessary items that raise your bill, if needed.


 

Tips for Shopping Organic and Cheap

 

Browsing and Sampling

If you’re new to the organic food section of the market, take an initial trip just to try meals that sound good and discover what you and your family like. Every section has organic versions of common foods, though you may have to go to a specialty store or Whole Foods for items like grass-fed beef. Keep in mind that you are saving yourself money in the long run by avoiding exposure to chemicals, as well as in the short term by selecting wisely.

 

Make a List

Staying on a budget is all about organization. Though making a grocery list is a very a predictable suggestion, but research has proven that making a plan in advance for food shopping and following it results in a higher likelihood of money saving. And, buying food from the market always makes you less likely to spend money on fast food or a more costly meal out.

 

Know Your Foods

Keeping in mind which foods are the most important to buy organic, due to high contamination and less-than-ideal growing conditions, and you will be able to balance between organic and non-organic. It is not always crucial to buy every single product organic, but the ones that have the highest potential of being contaminated are dairy, meats, and sweet fruits. Refer to this article for a list of the “dirty dozen.”

 

Bulk Up

Buying bulk foods is a great way to get grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruits, and other organic products in bulk. When you buy in larger quantities, you not only save money but you also reduce the amount of waste that may end up in a landfill. Bring your own plastic bags to start a more environmentally conscious shopping habit.

 

Generic Brands

Always a great answer to the high cost of quality food: generics. Organic and natural foods have become so popular that many grocery stores offer plenty of products through their own label. These foods can cut a large chunk out of your overall bill, and are still providing the same ingredients as a larger brand. Many times, the generic organic products can be less expensive than the non-organic brand name version of the same food.

 

Frequent the Farmers’ Market

Avoiding the grocery store and accessing local, fresh organic foods straight from the farm is one of the best ways to save money on organic products. Prices are always lower than a supermarket, and you get the security of knowing where your food is coming from and how it is grown. Many cities have multiple farmers’ markets, and although some may not be open year-round, it is optimum to take advantage during the season when they are open. You can locate your local market online and find out their hours and operating months to enhance your budget and ingredient-conscious lifestyle.

 

Talk to Your Local Farmer

Conventionally grown produce and other foods may not always be so bad. When you buy food grown locally, ask the farmer what their process is. Pesticides and other chemical treatments are expensive, as is being organic certified, which means your locally grown foods may not be dangerous just because they don’t have a certain label. Call the farm, or visit them directly to ask what they use to nourish their plants and animals.

 

Be Your Own Farmer

Growing your own food is one of the best ways to save money. Seeds are incredibly inexpensive and can yield a great crop for you and your family. Usually, it is best to grow the produce you either use the most or is the most costly in order to save money. Techniques for growing can adapt to nearly any space you inhabit – whether you have a yard or an apartment. Look into vertical gardening if you’re in an urban setting or just confined by space.

 

Shop Online

Especially if you don’t have access to many organic products in your area, the web is an important tool for getting quality foods at a fair price. Did you know you can order groceries on Amazon? You can also buy certain organic products in bulk at Walmart.com. Once you hit a certain amount you avoid shipping charges, and from some sellers you can avoid paying sales tax.

 

 

References:

 

1. Organic Authority. 17 Tips to Shop for Organic Foods on a Budget.

2. Image: Fast Company.

 

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