With organic foods growing in popularity there has been an increase in products and produce available in grocery stores. More and more people care about where their food comes from and the impact those choices have on the environment, naturally sales of organic products are on the rise. It can be tough to know when to splurge on organic products and how to make them fit into your budget. We have a few tips to help you get some affordable organic food.
Is Organic Worth it?
Determining if spending the extra money or taking the extra steps to eat organic has to be addressed first. For a food to be labeled as organic, it must meet the standards set forth by the USDA. Opting for organic foods might mean you are:
- Ingesting less pesticides and chemicals
- Decreasing your environmental impact
- Promoting fair wages for farmers
- Supporting animal welfare
Purchasing food items in bulk helps save on the per unit price. This is true for organic and conventional foods. However its important to factor in shelf life and demand this food has in your own household. Buying organic bulk foods can end up in food waste if you end up buying more than you need and it goes bad. Food waste equals a waste of your budget too. Foods with a longer shelf life like frozen, canned, pickled, jared, or dried are normally a safe option for buying bulk. So to sum up, if you want to get organic food at an affordable rate, try buying in bulk.
Freezer is Your Friend
As mentioned above frozen foods have a long shelf life which decreases the odds the food will expire before you can use it. You can save a ton by picking organic frozen berries over fresh berries. Also you have the added benefit of a pre-prepared vegetable or fruit, such as frozen mango in chunks or riced cauliflower. Organic versions of these products can be 3-5x the cost of the frozen variety.
Focus on the Dozen
If you are trying to determine which fruits and vegetables are worth spending more on to get organic, then the Dirty Dozen list is a good guide. This list of 12 different fruits and vegetables is based on the potential for exposure to pesticides. If you don’t have the list on hand in the store, just think about the fruits and vegetables where you consume the whole product such as berries, apples, celery, tomatoes etc. Because you are consuming the part of the fruit exposed to pesticides, you are more likely to ingest a higher concentration. Fruits and vegetables you peel or are encased in their own protective outer layer would have a lower content of pesticides, these include bananas, oranges, avocados, lemons. There is also a Clean 15 list if you want more information on these foods with the lowest pesticides.
Skip the Organic Snacks
One food group where buying organically doesn’t impact your health is packaged and processed foods. Basically those crackers, chips, cereal, snack foods you find in the middle isles of the grocery store. The risk of consuming organic versions over the conventional is very low in terms of pesticides levels. And the nutritional profile of an organic pretzel compared to non-organic is the same, the biggest difference is the cost. A big part of buying organic food and keeping it affordable, is knowing what you can skip on. This is an area you can definitely save on.
Find Your Splurges
Determine what is important to you and save on the areas you can go without. For example if grass fed organic beef is something you won’t compromise on prioritize this in your budget. If you are neutral about your dairy products being organic, then go for the conventional yogurt so you have more in your budget for the organic beef.
Grow Your Own
If you love fresh herbs in your food this is a great place to save and is better for the environment. Choose the organic basil plant in the produce aisle over the smaller fresh packaged basil leaves. The plant provides more basil for similar cost and it will keep producing more basil as long as you give it light and water. The more produce you can grow in your own home, the less exposure to pesticides this produce will have.
Explore Different Brands
When looking for your organic yogurt or eggs or bread, check out different brands to compare prices. More and more store brands are offering an organic variety which is often just the surplus of the bigger brand names. Store brand organic options can save you here and there, which adds up over the year. Take some time to explore and compare next time your shopping.
Shop the Sales
Being flexible with your grocery list based on sales can help you get a great deal on organic foods. This goes for packed foods like organic rice and canned foods, and also produce. If you were planning on having broccoli for dinner this week, but organic brussel sprouts that are on sale, then be flexible and choose the sprouts!
Go Big on the Beans
Beans are a cheap option for bulking up recipes, providing heart healthy nutrients, and a plant based protein option for meals. Best thing about beans is they are so versatile and can be included in many dishes. By reducing your animal protein consumption, you are decreasing your food cost and having a positive impact on the environment. Go organic when you are buying canned or dried beans, there have been reports of high levels of pesticides in some conventional bean products like hummus.
Time to Save More and Eat Better
Now you can feel confident you can include organic foods into your grocery list in a way thats affordable to you. For more information on how to shop for healthy foods and improve your overall wellness, check out the Vessel app for access to your nutrition coach to help you align your day with your health goals. For your personalized plan, sign up today to get started!
What is your favorite way to make buying organic affordable?
Sydney Mulroy See all the author’s articles