Organic on a Budget
May 15, 2012
By now, most of us know the benefits of organic food: better for you, better for farm workers, better for the planet. But if you're on a budget, like many people are, can you make organic food part of your everyday life without going broke?
Thankfully, yes. Organic and sustainably grown food does tend to be more expensive, but with a little planning it's doable on almost any budget. Here are 6 tips for making organics work within your means.
1. Buy what's in season. Simply taking advantage of what's on sale or in season can make organic food costs comparable to the cost of conventional food. Rather than heading to the store with a specific list, write down something like "3 vegetables and 3 fruits" then create your meals around whatever organic or locally grown produce is on special.
2. Make some of your meals meatless. Organic and pasture-raised meats are pricier than conventional meats (but worth every penny!), so to avoid going over-budget, plan to be a part-time vegetarian. It's easy to make meals around cheaper proteins like tofu, beans, lentils, or a fried egg -- without sacrificing taste.
3. Buy in bulk. When something's on sale, buy a lot and freeze some. This method works especially well for meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and condiments. You'll love having a store of organic food at home for busy weeknights or last-minute snacks!
4. Choose your purchases wisely. Pre-packaged convenience foods and frequent eating out are far more expensive habits than buying organic whole foods that you prepare yourself at home. It takes some practice to get into the habit of making things from scratch, but before long it will become part of your routine - and both your wallet and your waistline (as well as your taste buds) will be much happier!
5. Grow some of your own food. The most local food on earth is the kind you grow yourself. If you have the space and interest, devote part of your outdoor space to a vegetable garden. You'll be surprised at how much fun it is to tend to your growing food, and how much money it can save you,especially if you freeze or can what you grow. Even if you live in an urban apartment, you can grow something - like fresh herbs - and that means you can cross those off your shopping list.
6. Start small. If you're new to organics and feeling a little overwhelmed, choose one food or food group to buy organic and just start there. Whether you opt for the dirty dozen, organic dairy, or humanely raised meat, you'll feel good about the steps you're taking to bring healthier foods into your home. After you've mastered one food group, you can move onto another, and before long you'll be well on your way to a healthier family, community, and planet.
Do you have any tips to share?
Amelia is a nutritionist, food-lover, and new mom who believes healthy eating should be easy and fun, not stressful or overwhelming. That’s why she started Eating Made Easy, a site that answers your food & nutrition questions and offers practical tips to make eating at home easier. Next time you feel confused about what to eat, what to buy, or how to cook, head to Eating Made Easy to get Amelia’s trusted, science-based advice.