I often get questions about how to save money while going organic, so I have compiled a few tips on the subject. These are simple ways to cut costs on fresh whole foods and other organic ingredients. Please leave comments below on how you save money while shopping for organic food.
Plan a Menu
The easiest way to save money is to plan meals. Plan on 2-3 days worth of meals including snacks. Make a shopping list of exactly what you need to make those meals and stick to that list at the grocery store. Making a shopping list at home will help you to utilize all of the food you already have and will keep you focused on specific food items at the store. Take an inventory of what you already have on hand and plan meals using those things. Planning ahead also eliminates the stress of wondering what to cook after a long day at work and lessens the urge to eat out.
Cook at Home
I love to eat out, but let’s face it, its expensive. The amount of money you spend for one night out could purchase all of the groceries for 3-4 days of cooking at home! I try to limit my eating out to special occasions. Also, purchasing ingredients to make your own salad dressings, breads, and drinks can save you tons of money. Plus, making your own condiments and sides at home allows you to control everything about what you are consuming.
Buy in Bulk
Warehouse stores like Costco provide inexpensive ways to purchase large amounts of foods. Frozen fruit and meats, for example, are a great deal at Costco and can be stored in your freezer for long periods of time. Places like Whole Foods Market offer a bulk food aisle featuring bins of organic rice, nuts, grains, and seeds all at discounted prices. Purchasing larger bags of greens is usually a better deal than buying a small bag and taking advantage of “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” promotions at stores is a great way to buy in season, fresh produce.
Shop at Farmers’ Markets
I love shopping for produce at farmers’ markets (See my Farmers’ Market Blog Post Here). Not only do you get to purchase in season, locally grown produce, but you generally save money because you get to cut out the middle man by purchasing directly from the farmer. Most vendors are also organic farmers so you are automatically getting the best fruits and veggies available.
Eat in Season
To save lots of money buy only fruits and veggies that are in season. Purchasing these items not only takes advantage of what is naturally being grown that time of year, but also will ensure you are getting the freshest, least genetically modified produce possible. If you find great deals on certain fruits or veggies, you might consider freezing them to cook later or even dehydrating fruit to snack on all year.
Plant a Garden
This is the simplest way to go organic. Starting a garden is interactive and rewarding. If you have a large space, go crazy! Plant lettuce, tomatoes, squash, green beans, pumpkins, strawberries, peppers, potatoes, and carrots. If space is an issue, plant a pot of tomatoes, or a herb garden on your window sill. Growing your own food will generally yield a 200% savings. For every dollar you spend on the garden, you should produce $2 worth of food.
Eat Less Meat
Bottom line, meat is expensive. And the average American eats much more meat than necessary. Treat meat as a treat. Only buy it for special occasions or when you find great sales. When cooking meat for meals, try to stick to specific portion guidelines. For example, one serving of chicken, red meat or fish should be 3 ounces, or roughly the size of a deck of cards.