Organic food has a lot of advantages over more conventional food. Organic fruits and vegetables have fewer pesticides and herbicides. Organic, grass fed meat has no hormones or antibiotics. It’s the safe bet for your health.
The problem is, organic food can be super expensive. No matter how much we care about our health, many people just can’t afford to eat all organic, myself included. I can’t afford to pay twice as much for organic, even if I know it’s way better for me. It can be really frustrating.
So I’ve compiled a list of some of the most helpful tips I could find on how to eat organic on a budget. I hope you find them helpful.
6 Tips on Eating Organic Food on a Budget
1. Know What You’re Paying For
If you’re going to pay more, you have to make sure what you’re getting is actually better. Marketers will try to trick you at every turn with “natural” labels. Even “free-range” and “hormone free” are not the same as organic. They might be true, but they’re also not regulated by law.
So make sure you’re buying foods with a “100% organic” label which means there are absolutely no synthetic ingredients. “Organic” is also still pretty good, which means the product must have at least 95% organic ingredients. “Made with Organic Ingredients” simply means that they contain at least 70% organic, but who knows what the other 30% is.
2. Eat Less Meat
Organic meat can be very expensive. Grain, hormones, and antibiotics are terrible for your health, but they certainly help farmers produce cheaper meat. So try to cut back where you can. Rather than making meat a part of every meal, eat it every other. Or only meat on weekends.
Eating less meat is likely better for your health anyway, though studies tend to go back and forth. At any rate, many American eat way too much protein and there are great plant-based alternatives.
3. Spend Your Money on Produce
Fruits and vegetables are where you should spend the most of your organic dollars because they’re the most likely to contain pesticides. Anything that can kill bugs is probably not good for you either.
If you can’t afford to buy all organic, it’s best to focus on the dirty dozen, while foods like mangos, avocados, broccoli, onions, and pineapple are among the least likely to have harmful residues.
4. Check Out a Farmers’ Market
Depending on where you live, this might not be feasible, but farmers’ markets are increasingly popular and are a great place to score a deal on organic produce. The real trick is to ask a lot of questions. Farmers love explaining their process and are probably there because they want to share their knowledge.
Ask about deals. Buying in bulk when something is in season can save you a ton of money. Just make sure you don’t let anything go to waste. You can always freeze leftovers if you have to.
5. Look Into an Organic Food Co-op
Search online (at websites like Cooperative Grocer and LocalHarvest) or check for postings in your local health food store for an opportunity to join a food cooperative. Basically, as a member you get access to organic produce at a discount in exchange for some dues. You can often get them even cheaper if you volunteer to work.
6. Grow Your Own
If there are no good cooperatives and the stores in your area are just too expensive, you can always start your own garden and see what you can grow yourself. You’d be surprised what you can grow with a little hard work and a lot of sunshine.
I’ve personally grown cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, Swiss chard, strawberries, and all kinds of different herbs. You just need some good soil and a spot that gets sun all afternoon.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about gardening is that no one knows everything, so the best thing to do is just go for it. Put some plants in the ground and see what happens. If you get a good harvest, you will definitely save a bundle on your organic grocery bill.
Because It’s Worth It
If you have other great tips for saving money on organic food please share them below because getting as much of your food as possible from organic sources really is better for your health.
Organic food tends to have more vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and beta carotene, which can all help fight a variety of diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s to heart disease.
Some organic food can have up to 25% more nutrients, while vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, and onions can contain between 20% and 40% more antioxidants.
Plus there are no pesticides, no MSG, no artificial sweeteners, no mercury, and no preservatives. As a result, eating organic can help lower your risk of developing all sorts of conditions related to these harmful ingredients, helping to lower your healthcare bill.
No matter how you look at it, most organic food is far superior to the conventional sort. I would eat all organic if I could. I hope this list helps you afford to eat just a little bit more.