Want the Benefits of Organic Food Without the High Prices? Don’t Miss These 11 Shopping Tips For Buying Organic Food When You’re On a Tight Budget
Do you want to eat more healthy food, but organic food always seems to be out of reach for your budget?
Do you pinch pennies when you can to save to buy organic vegetables and meats — only to have to go back to the cheaper, chemical-laden options.
Do you wish there were more options for organic eaters who have to watch their budgets?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time for to deploy our 11 shopping tips for buying organic food when you’re on a tight budget.
It’s true that at the end of the day, organic food costs what it costs — but you can incorporate it into your diet more by learning our savvy shopping secrets.
Here is everything you need to know to make it happen in your grocery store or market today:
Tip #1: Prioritize That Shopping Cart — Every Time
There are some general rules that come with grocery shopping — and that includes making a list before you go. This is evermore important when you are buying organic foods.
Consumer Reports estimates your food budget will increase by a whopping 50 percent if you put an organic product in your cart as a substitute for every item you need.
So before you go to the store, make a list of the organic items that are must-haves on your list. Buy only those items as long as they fit into your budget. If they don’t, they can’t go into the cart.
Tip #2: Be a Label Reader
With so many confusing labels out there, it is difficult to know what is organic — and what’s not. So you’ll need to become an astute label reader to make sure you are buying organic products.
You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on pricey goods that aren’t actually organic. So every time you look at a label, make sure you see the official “USDA Organic” seal that is issued and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Tip #3: Don’t Shun the Store Brand
As along as the product as the USDA’s seal of approval, you don’t really need to worry that much about whether it’s the store brand or name brand.
Instead, try a few of the more economical store brand versions of some of your staple organic foods to see if they taste as good to you as the name brand. You could be find that you are making the switch to help out your budget go a little farther.
Tip #4: Be a Coupon Queen or King
With the boom of popularity that organic foods have experienced in recent years, they are making their way into coupon books and flyers. So make it a priority to scour the Sunday papers and to request online coupons of your favorite brands.
Some grocery stores will take coupons for items that are already on sale — a technique called stacking — so you should try to save as much as you can at every turn.
Related: Kohl’s Coupons: 50 Hacks That Will Save You The Most Money
Tip #5: Bulk Up with Your Own Containers
Some organic and natural foods stores allow you to bring your own containers and fill them up with your favorite spices, nuts and grains. Whole Foods is a great example of a store that does this.
You won’t pay for packaging, so you could get these items for less per pound because you are buying in bulk.
Tip #6: Stock up at Your Big Box Stores
Big box wholesalers like Costco allow you to purchase a variety of organic products in bulk — including peanut butter, cereals, granola and more.
If you’re a member of a wholesaler, it’s a good idea to check the sales and the prices for buying these goods en masse.
Tip #7: Go Down on the Farm
If you live in an area with a local farmer’s market, then consider purchasing your organic vegetables from there.
You’ll cut out the middle man or woman and you’ll support local businesses. Best of all, you often can get better prices and feel at peace knowing your food was farmed without chemicals.
Farmers have to go through a screening process to be featured in local markets, but you always can ask them about their growing processes and how they treat the veggies they grow on their farms.
They usually love to educate customers — and you’ll learn something about where your food is coming from!
Tip #8: Make the Market Loop
If you find yourself at the local farmer’s market to buy your organic produce, don’t buy everything at the first stand you see. Instead, make a loop around the entire market first — checking out the quality of the produce and the prices.
Remember that farmer’s markets are ideal for negotiating when it comes to bulk items. So that organic vegetable soup you’re hoping to whip up in large quantities? You can save money by buying in bulk here.
Strike up a conversation with the farmer or farmer rep. Ask to sample the veggies before you buy. A relationship goes a long way in helping to facilitate the sale and to get a better price, in some instances.
Tip #9: Support the Community, Why Don’t You?
Consider joining a Community-Supported Agriculture group, also called a CSA. These local entities, give you a share of a local farmer’s crop when you pay a fixed price at the beginning of the season.
The only downfall is that this option is dependent on an unreliable harvest — so you could end up with a box full of kale at some point instead of a cornucopia of beautiful veggies.
One way to try to predict if this is going to happen is to ask your CSA representative about the the past few season’s crop varieties.
If your farmer isn’t growing a diverse crop of different produce, you may want to continue looking around to find a farmer that has more variety.
You can’t control it all the time, but it’s good to know how to set your expectations for the season ahead — and to know if you’re going to need to end up buying more veggies at the grocery or market to supplement what your CSA delivers.
Tip #10: Save a Little More Each Week
Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning — and that means being willing to save money to pay for the things we really want. If you save just $5 every week instead of buying that delicious pour-over coffee, you could have $20 at the end of the month for extra organic treats.
Try it for one week and see if denying yourself those extras actually produces more incentives for you because you get to buy extra organic goods at the end of the month.
It will take some strength and a willingness to form a habit of budgeting — but you can get to where you want with a little practice.
Tip #11: Grow a Green Thumb While You’re at It
You also can supplement your organic produce by trying to grow a few vegetables and herbs on your own. You can start small with this idea — and simply try a window garden.
If you kill everything your fingers touch, then it’s time to be more mindful and intentional. Treat your garden as if it were your job or a role you take great pride in. Cultivate it and expand to other vegetables in a small garden in your yard.
You may be amazed by what you are able to accomplish when you simply try to grow something good and green for your body.
Vegetables that are good to try to grow — and that act as natural and delightful landscaping for your yard — include tomatoes, zucchinis, basil, lettuces and bell peppers. Just make sure your neighbors don’t have any chickens!
Are You Ready to Try Our Shopping Secrets?
If you’re ready to see a difference in your long-term health by freeing your body from unnecessary toxins and chemicals, then building up your diet with organic foods is the way to go.
It’s tough on a budget — and it always will be because organic food is a premium product — but you can begin to get more organic foods into your diet with a little practice at shopping over time.
Try these 11 shopping secrets today. Start slow. Don’t blow your whole paycheck on organic zucchinis and such just yet. Build up your food budget, take advantage of sales, freeze items when you can, buy in bulk and so on.
Incorporate these tips into your daily shopping habits, and overtime your budget and your body will not only feel healthier but be healthier!