How to go organic on a budget

how to go organic on a budgetYou may have just watched “Food, Inc.” or one of the other “what’s really in our food” documentaries (available on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, in case you haven’t seen them), or maybe it’s your friends and co-workers who convinced you that it’s time to join in on the healthy food trend. No matter what your motivation is, you are truly making the right decision by committing to eating healthy. Now the question is how to go organic on a budget. The hardest part is getting started. In the coming weeks, I am planning to share tips on how to save money on organic products and how to make an adjustment to your overall budget to free up money for healthy foods, so be sure to favorite this blog and come back soon. Here are a few tips on how to get started and make the transition to organics easier on you and your wallet. 

1) Make the transition gradual – don’t try to change your diet all at once.

2) Make a commitment to minimally processed foods. Start preparing meals from scratch with simple ingredients like meat, vegetables, fruit, and spices. Start collecting easy to make recipes for meals that your family likes.

3) Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Fresh produce, meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, and bread are usually located around the perimeter of a grocery store, while ready-to-eat foods with longer shelf life can be found in the middle aisles. It’s OK to run into the middle aisles to pick up rice, pasta, cereal, flour, and a few other grocery list essentials, but a good rule of thumb is to stick to mostly perimeter shopping. Try to stay away from canned and microwaveable foods, chips, and processed foods with extensive lists of ingredients.

4) Consider switching to grocery stores like “Whole Foods” and “Trader Joe’s” – they have a great selection of whole/ organic foods at reasonable prices. If you don’t have a “Whole Foods” or a “Trader Joe’s” in your neighborhood, it may be worth driving to a grocery store in 60-80 mile radius once or twice a month and stocking up on foods. To save more at Whole foods, be sure to print out Whole Foods coupons.

5) Find local farmers through websites like Local Harvest and EatWild and Facebook groups and buy your meats, cheese, eggs, and produce in bulk.

6) Organic chicken and turkey is generally a lot cheaper than grass fed beef, so you may want to include more chicken and turkey in your diet. Also, if you are on a tight budget, switching to organic meat, organic eggs, and dairy is more important then changing any other part of your diet because of high concentration of pesticides and hormones in conventional meat, dairy, and eggs. If you have access to inexpensive seafood, like fish and shrimp, be sure to include more seafood in your diet. But try to stay away from farm raised fish. 

7) Pick and choose which produce to buy organic. If you haven’t heard about Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, be sure to check out this article Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce. If you are on a tight budget, it’s ok to buy some non-organic produce such as onions, pineapple, watermelon, and sweet potatoes. But steer clear of non-organic apples, peaches, strawberries, potatoes, and other fruit and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen+ list – they are high in Pesticide!

8) I am sure you have heard this one before – start your own garden. Start out small by growing your own herbs, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes – the money you save on organic produce will really add up. If your city/ town ordinance allows backyard chickens, consider keeping chickens for eggs. Chickens are also great for organic pest control.

9) Shop for seasonal foods and adjust your meal plan accordingly.

10) Make your own preserves – jelly, jam, compotes, salsa, tomato sauce – with produce purchased in season and in bulk. Freezing or dehydrating can also be an option.

11) Save money on drinks by giving up soda and cutting down on sugary juices, consider switching to filtered water.

Finally, don’t stress about reading every label and going 100% organic. It’s the small steps that count!



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