I’ll gladly pay more for pesticide-free produce and hormone-free meat. For me, organic food is worth the extra cost.
My husband loves the taste of organic, grass-fed beef. Overall, and I don’t think it’s our imagination, organic food seems to taste better than regular, conventional grocery store items.
It’s also more nutritious, according the Journal of Applied Nutrition, which published a 1993 study showing a sampling of organic produce had significantly higher mineral levels than conventionally grown food.
Eating organic also means avoiding GMOs. There’s frightening research linking genetically engineered crops to cancer. Some countries, including Peru and Russia, have banned American corn. That’s because nearly all of it is genetically modified.
I’ve been shopping organic for several years. When I first upgraded our meals, I bought nearly everything I needed at a local grocery store.
Shopping For Organic Food at Vitacost
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It was the most expensive market in the area. But I liked the one-stop shopping. I paid dearly for this convenience.
So, now, I shop for a lot of my speciality foods online. I buy them at Vitacost, a huge online health food store.
How to Afford All Organic Food
Pretty soon, though, I couldn’t afford to keep spending $350 to $400 a week on food. So. I had to make some changes. I found ways to cut our grocery bill in half. This was something I desperately needed to do, so we could pay our other bills.
Since then, our financial situation has improved. So I don’t have to be as careful. But I still remember when I had to do so drastic budgeting, in order to be able to keep buying healthier foods. I was able to pare my grocery budget down to $150 to $200, and nearly everything was organic.
This budget was from a few years ago. Before I discovered Aldi. This is where I get my produce and meat. These can’t be ordered online at Vitacost.
How Can I Afford Organic Food?
One thing I’ve discovered along the way has made life infinitely easier. This is shopping at Vitacost. I no longer have to run around to several different places, trying to find the best price. I don’t need to hunt for those elusive organic food coupons. Vitacost has some of the best prices I’ve found anywhere on organic food. It also offers regular discounts and coupon codes. (I’m able to get free shipping too.) If you’re trying to save money on organic groceries, do yourself a favor and check out the prices at Vitacost.
I am absolutely convinced that everyone needs to eat real food, as their budget will allow. I want to tell you how an average family like us was able to afford it.
How to Avoid Eating Genetically Modified Foods
Actually, you really can’t afford not to avoid GMOs. Our grocery stores are filled with genetically modified foods. Nearly all of the corn and soy grown in the United States has been genetically engineered. This allows it to survive applications of a controversial herbicide made by Monsanto. The active ingredient is glyphosate. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to serve this to my family.
In the United States, we don’t hear much about the potential dangers of GMOs. But French researchers found that laboratory rats developed enormous mammary tumors after consuming genetically modified grains.
How to Afford Organic Food on a Budget
It took months to learn better shopping habits. Even though I now have more money to spend, I carefully plan every meal in order not to waste food. And if something’s on sale, I stock up.
Even while eating the “typical American diet,” I still spent too much on groceries. I didn’t plan ahead. Sometimes, too tired to cook, I’d resort to take-out. Sometimes produce rotted in the vegetable bin. I was literally throwing away hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Now, all food gets eaten.
Eating organic, on the cheap, does take work. But not nearly as much as it used to. I once spent too much time shopping at different grocery store. Now, I place my order at Vitacost and wait for it to be delivered.
Avoiding Eating Genetically Engineered Foods
We’re now eating better than ever. And feeling better too. My husband’s chronic heartburn has greatly improved. My long-standing nerve pain is pretty much cured, and my energy level has increased. (Homeopathy and various supplements have also helped.)
No one in my house is hungry. When we first made the switch, my son was a teenager. So he complained about having “nothing” (no junk food) to eat. Now, though, when he’s home, I try to make sure he has organic corn tortilla chips. (Otherwise, he’d undoubtedly be eating corn chips derived from genetically modified crops.)
Here are the Late July tortilla brand chips I buy. If you factor in the Vitacost discounts (along with free shipping), they are less expensive when I order them online.
Eating Organic Food Benefits
Our diet, I’ll admit, is not 100 percent organic. That’s partly because some products aren’t always available in my area. Sometimes, organic potatoes are not to be found.
I also make concessions. My son likes fried plantains. I buy organic bananas, but no one sells organic plantains locally. My family members also wants store-brand bagels.
For the most part, our meat, rice and produce is free of chemicals and pesticides. Avoiding genetically modified foods in a big priority as well. This is nearly impossible if you eat a conventional diet, as even salad dressings and mayonnaise are loaded with GMOs.
I feel very blessed we’re able to eat organic food. Here are 12 ways you can afford to do the same.
How to Save Money When Buying Organic Food
Update: The follow money-saving tips were written a few years ago. They are still valid and hopefully useful to you. However, since then, I’ve decided to radically simplify my life. I now do much of my non-perishable shopping at Aldi. This is a no-frills discount store that carries a growing selection of real food and organic food. I’m so happy there’s an Aldi within a reasonable drive from my house. I still get many non-perishables online.
- Stay Away from Grocery Stores. For non perishable items, I highly recommend checking out either Vitacost or Pureformulas. Pureformulas doesn’t have as large of a selection as Vitacost. But it does offer free shipping on everything. If you don’t like shopping online, here’s why you have to stay away from regular grocery store. Some of my best organic food bargains were found at a local discount outlet. It’s the best place for stocking up on organic cereal. The same brand sells for at least a dollar more in the grocery stores. I also found coffee, tea, jelly, raisins and crackers. Actually, the more food you buy outside of grocery stores and health food stores the better. I’ve heard Dollar Tree Stores now carry some organic products. Don’t forget to check out Aldi, if you leave near one of these markets. This German-based chain engages in aggressive cost-cutting measures to keep prices low. It now carries a limited selection of organic items.
- Try To Drink Water. Americans spend one-third of their grocery budget on drinks. Water is much cheaper. However, because some family members can’t live without juice, I do buy organic juice at the supermarket. I also can’t live without my Newman’s Own Organic tea, which I buy at Vitacost.
- Shop Online. As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of online shopping. It saves time and money. Vitacost is where I buy most of my spices. I highly recommend Frontier brand organic cinnamon. Did you know that most cinnamon sold in the United States is fake? It’s really cassia, a close relative, but not the real thing. Cassia can cause liver damage if you consume too much. Real Ceylon cinnamon is safer, sweeter and tastes much better.
- Use a Credit Card. Some money-saving mavens swear by using cash only. But I’d hate to give up the rebates. Some cards offer 5 percent back on groceries at different times of the year
- Shop More. Believe it or not, this works. We live in an area with an abundance of grocery and discount stores. During my extreme budgeting phase, I used to shop nearly every day, for just a few minutes. It’s much less tempting to overbuy and potentially waste food when you know you’ll be back again. I ran up our biggest bills shopping infrequently. This also cuts down on the chance of food “disappearing” in the refrigerator because you can’t keep track of what you’re buying. Also, shopping is much less of a production when you’re not hauling 20 grocery bags into the house at one time.
- Shop at Home First. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased too many perishables because I didn’t check to see what I already had. I’m trying really hard to “shop at home” before heading out the door.
- Frequent Farmer’s Markets. You’ll find deep discounts on produce. Although much of it’s not “certifiably” organic, you can ask if the fruits or vegetables are sprayed. Last summer I found huge Asian cucumbers the size of small watermelons for $1 each.
- Grow you Own. I have a pot of basil growing in my kitchen. Previously, I was spending $3 a week, every week, on organic basil. If this continued, it would have run $156 a year. If you’re growing your own food, it’s important to use organic potting soil and organic fertilizer. That’s because chemical fertilizers have been linked to cancer.
- Get a Water Filter. Our municipal water supply is heavily fluoridated. Sodium fluoride is highly toxic. We were going through at least 14 gallons of bottled spring water a week, since we used it for cooking as well as for drinking. One thing we did was purchased a Tap Master Jr. Counter Top filter. It comes with one carbon activated filter that’s easy to replace. We change filters about every three months. This is a good option if money is tight. However, we can now afford bottled water again. This isn’t a perfect solution. But drinking fluoridated tap water is off the table.
- Use Coupons. If you can find organic food coupons, by all means use them. Most commercial coupons are for heavily processed foods. Check online and in give-away magazines and literature at the grocery store. Some people contact manufacturers directly and ask for coupons. If you like a particular brand, you can often sign up on the website to receive special offers.
- Learn How Others Save. Although many money-saving bloggers don’t buy organic food, you can still glean some great tips. This is how I learned that shopping once a week was doing us in, budget wise. I would stock up, and buy way too many perishables, because I was trying to make the produce last a week. The downside of frequent shopping is the greater temptation to buy things you don’t really need. I’ve caved a few times and picked up items not on our menu plan. But I did far worse damage to our bank account by trying to shop just once a week. Maybe it’s easier for people who aren’t buying organic to do this. For our family, weekly shopping was also difficult because, at least in my area, organic items sold out quickly, so I ended up buying a lot during the big weekly trip. Then, I ended up hitting the stores several more times that week to pick up food that wasn’t previously available.
- Have a Cow. My friend, an organic-food devotee, recently remarked, “I need to buy a cow.” Actually, she and two other people shared a cow, butchered by a local farmer. They’ll be enjoying hormone-free, grass-fed steak at $3 a pound for months to come.
Organic Eating On a Budget Bonus Tip
If you’re serious about lowering your grocery bill, one area to look at is how much food you’re throwing away. This could potentially add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. One easy way to eliminate spoiled food in your fridge is to use a low-cost meal planning service, so you buy only what you need to use that week, and then use this food to make all of your meals. This is also a healthier approach, since you are assured of putting a delicious meal on your table every night, made with real food. Also, this should reduce the temptation to resort to restaurant take-out because you have nothing for dinner.
Real Plans is a budget meal planning app that already does all the legwork, in terms of planning. Each week you receive a healthy grocery list you can take on your weekly shopping trip. (Once a week shopping is all you need with Real Plans.) This program is designed to save time and money for busy families. Click on the picture below for details.