Many people truly want to eat healthy, organic meals, as the dangers of pesticides, growth hormones and chemical processing agents associated with commercial groceries are becoming more and more recognized.
However, a lot of us are discouraged by the notion that eating organic will kill our food budget.
The good news is that it does not have to. While the sticker prices of organic groceries are indeed usually higher than commercial varieties, there are many different methods that those who choose an organic lifestyle use so that their healthy habits do not break the bank.
Grow it Yourself
Food always tastes better when it comes fresh from the plant to the dinner table. Contrary to what you may think, you do not need acres of land to grow food. A simple 4×8-foot raised bed is enough space to grow food for a family of 5.
You can also raise a great variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables in containers and hanging pots. Even if you don’t exactly have a ‘green thumb,’ many fruits and vegetables are easy to grow, and require minimal tending. Some good examples are sweet potatoes, lettuce, strawberries, beans and tomatoes.
Note: Make sure the seeds or plants that you buy are non-GMO. Ask your retailer if you are not sure.
Your neighborhood farmer’s market will often have yummy produce that costs less than organic produce at a grocery store. Talk to local farmers about their practices; some farmers do not use pesticides, but do not have a USDA certification, so they can keep their prices lower.
One great way to spend less money at the farmer’s market is to go right before they close for the day. Many farmers cut prices at the end of the day to avoid having to go home with a load to carry. Your selection may be more limited, but you’ll save a lot of money.
Also, ask around for information about organic outlets, food co-ops and food buying clubs. Many organic staples are also much cheaper if you buy them in bulk.
Check to see if there is a community garden in your area. You can often purchase a growing plot in a community garden for very little, and this will give you a chance to intermingle with others who are like-minded, as well.
Seasonal produce is less costly, fresher and tastier than out-of-season options. If there’s a fruit that you can’t get enough of, buy it when it’s in season, and freeze to enjoy later in the year.
Limit Meat Intake
Organic, grass-fed meats and dairy products can be expensive, but the benefits are worth it. The simplest way to reduce organic meat costs is by eating less meat. Try cutting meat portions in half, and replacing the other half with organic beans or lentils; you’ll still get the protein content, and the flavor.
In his book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health… for Good, author Mark Bittman explains how he did just that. His plan involves eating organic, vegan foods until 6:00 p.m., and having organic meat and dairy as part of a delicious and healthy supper.
When buying organic poultry, buy the whole bird instead of cut-up sections. It costs less per pound, and for an added benefit, you can use the carcass to make homemade stock or broth, which can be frozen for later use.
Search for Discounts
Googling your favorite organic companies can lead to a variety of deals and discounts. Keep a list of companies you like the most, and every once in a while, type them into a search engine to see what is available. Also, joining a company’s social media page can keep you updated on sales, and can provide you with discounts available only to members.
Planning weekly meals and budgeting how much money is available each week for these meals is a good way to see exactly how much you will be spending, and which items you can afford, and which you can go without. If you budget for organic, whole foods ahead of time, there will be no financial surprises when you go to purchase these items.
Another smart idea is to double, or even triple, your recipes, so that you can enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week. You can also freeze your meals to eat on days when you may not have time to cook.
While you may pay more up front for some organic foods, others, when bought locally, in bulk, seasonally, or grown at home, can be just as – if not more – affordable than their less-than-healthy counterparts.
A key thing to remember is that spending a little bit more on some organic items now may well save you money in the long term – in medical bills.
-The Alternative Daily