Standing in the grocery store faced with the option to choose organic or not can often come down to dollars and cents. Are those $5.99-a-pound strawberries really better than the $2.99 non-organic variety? Many health experts say yes, but how can we afford it? One mom, Sarah Cottrell, says it is very doable, it just takes planning. In fact, she says it is possible to feed a family of five organic food for less than $150 a week. Wow! Lucky for us, she shared her tips with Babble. So, with that in mind what is the best way to budget for organic food? As someone that struggles with this myself, I decided to look into Cottrell's suggestions and scour the internet for even more great tricks. Here are nine things you can do to save money and buy organic.
1. Buy in Bulk
Cottrell says she buys her meat for the year at one time. "For $1,200 I bought half a cow and a whole pig, which filled my 20 ft.-wide stand-up freezer with enough meat to feed us for the year, maybe longer," she says. If you don't happen to have a 20-foot-wide freezer, there are other things you can do. Food blogger Vani Hari, who runs the blog Food Babe, says that one way she saves is by buying unpackaged foods from bulk dispensers at her local grocery store—think oats, nuts, flours and seeds.
2. Use Coupons
While it might be hard to find coupons for organic goods in the weekly Sunday circular, Hari reveals that they are out there. You just need to know where to look. She suggests checking out various organic coupon sites, like Mambo Sprouts, All Natural Savings and Organic Deals. Your local grocer may offer coupons, too. So, don't forget to check out deals from stores like Kroger, Whole Foods and Earth Fare. You might also consider following internet super savers like The Krazy Coupon Lady. She regularly posts about all kinds of deals including sales on organic foods.
3. Shop Online
With the purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon brought cheers of joy from organic-loving foodies everywhere hoping for lower prices. And, the mega-online superstore delivered. The company slashed prices in store, but they also made Whole Foods private label brand 365 available online.
4. Buy Local
Experts say the best way to save money at your local farmer's market is to buy fruits and vegetables during peak seasons. This website can help you find a farmer's market near you. You can also search out a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area. CSA members typically enjoy a bounty of produce from local farmers for a weekly fee.
5. Grow Your Own
If like me you are thinking, but how can I grow my own food? I don't have a big enough yard for a garden! Not to worry. Tom Hunt, eco chef and food waste activist, says you don’t need an actual garden. "It takes little effort to grow a few pots of your favorite herbs and vegetables," he writes for the Soil Association. "You can grow anywhere, on windowsills, on the porch, or on the driveway. Start with herbs as they can be so expensive to buy and take up little room."
6. Cut Down On Waste
A study out of John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future revealed Americans waste 31-40 percent of their food, and most of this waste occurs in our homes. By only buying what you actually need and use, families can cut down on overall costs. The Food Babe suggests bringing measuring cups to the grocery store when buying from bulk containers. In doing this, you can get exactly the amount you need for a specific recipe and you won’t be paying for extra.
7. Eat Less Meat
Meat is often the most expensive part of the meal. Instead opt for vegetarian alternatives and save money. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition says vegetarians can save up to $750 more a year than meat eaters.
8. Buy Frozen Instead of Fresh
When fresh produce seems too expensive, head to the freezer section. Hari says frozen fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper, especially if they are out of season.
9. Meal Plan
Finally, Cottrell says meal planning is key to her success. "The list I come up with is what we eat by for the next seven days, no matter what," she shared with Babble. And, thanks to technology there are a lot of great meal planning apps at our fingertips.