Eating organic food is growing in popularity by the day, and for a good reason. It will lower your exposure to pesticides and other harmful contaminants that make their way into the foods you’re buying. However, the USDA has guidelines on what produce, meat and multi-ingredient foods can carry the label “organic,” so it’s also important to not be tricked by synonyms like “natural.” In this article, we’ll give you some tips to eat organic on a budget that can also be applied to supplements and personal care items like CBD products.
Let’s get started!
If you didn’t know, certain foods are grown or farmed in certain seasons. While it might seem complicated to keep track of which comes when, there’s a straightforward way. Whether something is in or out of season will be reflected in the price that you’re paying for it. Generally, the more out of season something is, the more you’re going to pay for it. This sometimes feels doubly so for organic items. Shopping in-season can sometimes be a challenge as it means not buying certain things you might want or crave, but it is a sound strategy in the long run.
Don’t Forget Frozen
Frozen food gets a bad rap, but it is nutritionally just as good, if not sometimes better, as the fresh stuff when it comes to produce. This is because frozen veggies and fruit are picked at their peak ripeness and then flash frozen. This means there is no in-transit ripening process. But, of course, frozen isn’t an option for every dish or meal you want to make. And some items – like leafy greens for salads – will still need to be bought fresh. But definitely have a look in your frozen food section next time for cheaper organic options.
Store Brand Options
Most chains are going to have their own store brands these days. And within those store brand lines, you’ll find a host of different organic options, especially for canned and multi-ingredient items. In some cases, they may also be the “imperfect” fruits and veggies that didn’t make the cut for the big brands and companies. But what do you care? You’re not in this for the looks. Also, on average, store brands will be noticeably cheaper than popular name brands, so don’t miss out on them or pass them by.
Sales and Coupons
Grocery stores put organic food on sale and offer coupons for their organic items just the same as their regular items. Staying up to date on these sales and grabbing coupons is easier than ever before. Most major chains and stores have an app that allows you to easily browse their deals of the week and find digital coupons. You can also get the same from third-party apps as well. So you can save a lot of money with just a little time browsing on your phone.
Discount and Reduced Options
Every grocery store these days is going to have a rack, table or bin where they place their discounted produce on its way out. Organic options are no exception, though they might be in a separate section. Some of it may not look too pretty. Give whatever you’re buying a lookover and squeeze to ensure it’s still good to go. Often, these items come with a noticeably big discount. You’ll be able to find up to 70 percent off regular prices in some places eager to clear out stock before they have to toss it in the garbage. You’ll generally need to use such purchases right away or freeze them, but it’s well worth it to shop organic for less than you’d pay for regular produce.
To buy everything on your shopping list from the organic section, you would probably have to remortgage your house. That’s why important choices need to be made when it comes to grocery shopping. Unfortunately, certain products are going to be at higher risk for containing pesticides. Lucky for us, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group keeps and updates lists to help you choose what produce you most definitely should be grabbing from the organic section and which are likely safe even if you don’t. They call them the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists and should be required reading for anyone shopping organic.
Farm to Table
A fantastic way of saving on your grocery bill but still eating organic is to go to the source and buy direct from farmers. By cutting out the middleman, the farmers can make a bit more profit to sustain themselves and keep doing what we’re so happy that they do. So you’ll be saving on your bottom line with prices that are potentially better than what you’d find in-store. There are a few ways you can find these small-scale organic farmers, but it’s usually at farmers markets. So have a look around your area and see if you can find any!
Store Your Food Properly
One of the best ways to save money when eating organic is to make sure you’re eating everything you’ve purchased. While the longevity of different produce items can vary greatly, in general, proper food storage will help you ensure you’re not throwing away your hard-earned money.
Here are some quick tips on how to best store your organic produce:
- Wash leafy greens and store them in your fridge in an airtight container, wrapped in a paper towel or a tea towel to absorb moisture.
- Asparagus should be stored in the fridge with the bottom of the stalks wrapped in a damp paper towel or upright in a bowl of water. Not doing so makes the bases go woody, and you’ll be eating significantly less of your asparagus!
- Squash and root vegetables do best in cool, dark places like a cupboard or basement. Garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, pumpkins and yams do well with the same treatment.
- Tomatoes do best outside of the fridge, away from sunlight. But if you find them getting close to past their prime and you don’t have enough time to eat them, pop them in the fridge to extend their lifespan a bit.
A Note on Supplements and Personal Care Items
You might be wondering if you should also be opting for organic vitamins while taking your daily vitamin C or if you should reach for organic lotions as you apply that CBD topical cream. The answer is yes, and many of the tips we mentioned above will still be applicable.
Anything you’re ingesting or applying to your body is best if you can confirm and guarantee it is free of pesticides and other harmful contaminants. Then, by looking for sales, prioritizing what you purchase, storing them correctly and buying direct, you’ll be able to chip away at otherwise high price tags. This will ensure you and your family are getting the organic products you want and deserve.