Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Growing up Gabel about Essential Oils for Children, and I’m excited to welcome Kristia Ludwick from Family Balance Sheet to The Holistic Mama today:
For a variety of reasons, many people are turning to organic food. Consumers don’t want pesticides and toxins in their food supply and they want to know that what they are eating is the most nutritious food that is available. But for many people, the price of organic food scares them away. Instead of questioning why non-organic food is so cheap they wonder why organic food is so expensive. Whether you are eating a purely organic diet or slowing converting to an organic lifestyle, these tips will help save you money on organic food.
1. Join a CSA.
Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is where community members pay a local farmer for a seasonal membership to the farm. In return the member receives a ‘share’ or delivery of freshly harvested produce or meat weekly. Prices will vary by farm, but we pay about $14 a week for a produce share from May to November. Not all CSAs are certified organic, so ask your friend and neighbors for recommendations or check out Local Harvest to see if there is a CSA near you.
2. Choose Organic Store brands
As consumer demand for organic food has increased, many grocery store chains have introduced their own organic brand. From meat and vegetables to dairy and dry goods, there is a good chance your grocery store carries an organic version under their own brand name. I have found the prices of these store brands to be 15-25% less than a major brand. In most cases the taste and quality of the store brand has suited my family.
3. Organic Coupons
If you do have a favorite organic brand and the store’s version just didn’t cut it, search for coupons via the brand’s website, Facebook page, or call the company directly. Our favorite dairy brand is Stonyfield (our store brand just doesn’t compare) and they allow you to print coupons one time per month. They also have a rewards program where you can earn points from purchases and trade the points in for products.
4. Buy in Season
The best time to buy produce is when it is in season, not only for freshness and taste, but also because the price goes down. For example, organic strawberries in May and June are less expensive than in the winter months. Check your local farmers markets and stands for the best prices on produce during the harvest season.
5. Stick to the Dirty Dozen
The dirty dozen is a list of food that was found to have the most pesticide residue on the produce. If buying 100% organic food is very hard financially for you, then just commit to buying the dirty dozen. The list includes: apples – blueberries – celery – cherries – imported grapes – lettuce – nectarines – peaches – potatoes – spinach – strawberries – sweet bell peppers.
6. Compare Price Per Unit
Always compare the price per unit and if the size makes sense, go with the best price per unit. My family has a slight addiction to all things dairy; milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, you name it we eat it and a lot of it. After a quick price per unit comparison, I realized a 32 oz container of organic yogurt costs about $2.99 or $1.50/lb vs. a 6 oz container of yogurt at .79 or $2.11/lb. I now only buy the 32 oz size and dish it into smaller reusable containers for our packed lunches.
7. Plan Around the Sales Flyers
Plan your weekly meals and your grocery list around the sales flyers. Generally stores run their sales flyers in the Sunday newspaper, but check with your favorite store to be sure. The $1-$2 that you spend on the newspaper will save you money by planning your menu and shopping the sales.
8. Stock up on Sales
Some people hear stockpiling and they think hoarding, but buying 2 or more packages of organic chicken when it is on sale will save you money when you have a hankering for grilled chicken and it isn’t on sale. Utilize your freezer; many foods, such as fresh produce, dairy, and meat can be frozen for future use.
9. Start your Own Garden
You don’t have to have a large space to garden. You can plant herbs and vegetables in containers or a small square foot garden. Every summer, I plant carrots, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs and when it is time to harvest I freeze the over-abundance to use in the fall and winter.
How do you save money on organic food? Let us know in the comments.
Kristia writes about family finances, home-management, and food at Family Balance Sheet. She spends her offline time raising her two young daughters, helping her husband run their small business, and training for her next half-marathon.