10 Ways to buy Organic Food on a Budget
There has been an urban myth circulating for decades that to eat organic you need to be a millionaire. When you’re poking around the supermarket at the processed food to find the lonely organic counterpart, it’s easy to look at the price and go into ‘sticker shock’ at the difference. Is organic food really that expensive? In that store, maybe, but in general – no.
Here are 10 ways to eat good, organic food on a budget.
They say that 25% of the cost of any product is for the design and production of the packaging. Take away the packaging and the product is instantly 25% cheaper. Make it a rule to shop at places like your local farmers markets, that do not use packaging as a rule before you go on your weekly supermarket shop, then you are not tempted by the shiny boxes and plastics on the shelves that have been cleverly designed to make you buy.
Food waste is at astonishing levels. 40% of what is bought is wasted through leftovers, or simply ‘not getting round’ to using it. One way to make your organic budget smaller is to buy only what you need – and no more. Working out a menu before you shop is the best way to make sure you have the right ingredients in and reduce impulse shopping. It also helps to know how many you are catering for as families have such busy schedules these days that can mean out of a family of four, only two may actually eat that particular meal.
SKIP PROCESSED FOODS
Processed foods are more expensive and are everywhere – even in organic foods. If it comes preprocessed it will cost more because of the work involved, whether it’s organic or not. Make pots of treats or staple items to have them on hand when you need them. Use the freezer or can it if you have to, but make sure the food can be stored this way. Next time, instead of reaching for a baker’s fresh muffin, replace it with organic carrot sticks and home-made hummus that are just as tasty but much cheaper.
Organic food is often sold in all its glorious natural-ness, and not selected on good looks alone. Some stores select out the ‘ugly’ veg and sell them in their ‘bargain bin’ as they still consider them too repulsive to market. Take a look at these bins first and see what you can scoop up as a bargain.
BUY IN BULK
Organic bulk foods are still fairly niche items but can be found in specialty stores and it’s worth stocking up when you find them. Choose versatile staple foods like flour, cornmeal, beans and nuts, reap in the financial benefits, then store them at home until they are needed.
Meat production uses a huge amount of resources and even more so these resources are organic. One great way to reduce your organic budget is to cut out meat. If you make your week days vegetarian and replace the meat with the myriad of much cheaper organic, vegetarian alternatives like tofu, lentils and pulses your food budget will plummet – but the taste won’t.
With organic food becoming more mainstream stores are beginning to bring in their own ranges which are nearly always cheaper to buy, but sometimes they are harder to find! Organic produce can be lined up together in a neat section of a store, spread all round or a combination of both. Check out both areas to see if the things you buy have a generic store brand version and you may be pleasantly surprised.
The raw food movement has many benefits, one of which is that it’s cheaper. Based around raw vegetables and natural food that requires no cooking, there are some amazing, tasty recipes that will quell the taste buds of any raging carnivore, if you take the time to find them – and try them.
BUY IN SEASON
The price of fruit and vegetables reflects how much produce is available, so when they come into season the price is much lower. Research what you can do with the fruit and veg in season, looking for creative ways to sneak in the organics to bulk out your eating, but still buy only as much as you can use.
GROW YOUR OWN
The best way to make your organic produce cheaper is … to grow your own. It may take some time to source non GMO or heirloom seeds, but try your local farmers market; they are a wealth of opportunity and knowledge about anything to do with organic gardening. Growing your own is a huge win/win financially and organically but also gives you the peace of mind knowing where the produce has come from and what has been used to grow it. Even better – if you get a bumper crop you can share it with your neighbours and inspire them!
Buying organic on a budget will always make you think creatively, but is definitely worth taking the time to do. Once you have mastered getting the most ‘bang for your organic buck’, you can branch out into natural ways of preserving it so you can enjoy ‘fresh’, organic food all your long.