Tips & Tricks to Make the Most Out of Your Organic Food Budget

Organic choices may not always make sense. Sadly, it’s often far more expensive & not possible for every budget. But how do you measure the value of your health & that of the planet? I personally don’t have a large income & spend far more on food than I probably have business to but for me, it’s an investment. 

It’s true that I’m privileged here because on the one hand, I don’t have many other obligations. On the other hand though, as I am self-employed I cannot afford to get sick & take time off work. Spending extra money on really good, whole foods that fuel my body instead of depleting it, is a sort of extended health care plan. Due to my frugal budget, I’ve found ways over the years to maximize my resources. 

Tricks to Make Organic Food More Affordable:

  • Avoid packaged items: Not only does this help reduce the waste we produce but you’re not paying for convenience. Buy a bundle of spinach or kale instead of the pre-cut packages, for example. It doesn’t add considerable effort to your day but cuts back significantly on the expense.

  • Watch for sales: Stock up when sales come up. Dried good especially go on sale regularly so wait to purchase them & grab a couple to reduce cost. You can freeze the produce you don’t need right away or cook into meals for later. This is an excellent opportunity to meal prep.

  • Eat seasonally: When you eat seasonally, local options open up. Transport expenses decrease & savings are passed on to consumers.

  • Eat locally: Visit your local markets & watch for products from your area. Small farmers often charge significantly less for their produce & often use organic practices. Plus, you get to meet the people who grow your food & you can feel good knowing you are directly contributing to the local economy.

  • Food prep: I talk about my new found love for food prepping in another post but I’ll say here, it’s a genuine game changer. Spend a bit of time at the beginning of each week cutting up vegetables for quick & convenient snacks. Make a huge batch of dips that can be enjoyed over several days. Make four dozen cookies & freeze three quarters of them. When you find a good deal on certain produce, make them into meals you freeze for later dates or a huge batch you use as a base through the week. These practices reduce waste, stretch every dollar spent, & make it easier to take advantage of sales as they come up. I cannot emphasize enough that cutting back on food waste does wonders for staying on budget.

2019 Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen Produce

Not all food is created equal. In the realm of organic or not, the truth is, certain crops are sprayed more than others. If you can only do some of your shopping from the organic section, try prioritizing these:

  • Strawberries

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Nectarines

  • Apples

  • Grapes

  • Peaches

  • Cherries

  • Pears

  • Tomatoes

  • Celery

  • Potatoes

Also, coffee. It isn’t on the list of dirties but from a holistic perspective, the amount of chemicals used in nonorganic coffee production, is extremely hard on both the environment & the workers. The amount of gear they need to wear to work these crops is insane. 

When Skipping the Organic Section is No Biggie 

Some crops are not sprayed as much as others. Usually these are ones with thick peels that pests are less likely to infest. Since they are sprayed less, or not at all, they do not pose as high a risk to personal or environmental health. When budgeting groceries, these are easier to select as non-organic options. Often in these cases, the term ‘organic’ doesn’t mean much with these crops. 

2019 Environmental Working Group Clean 15 Produce

  • Avocados

  • Sweet Corn

  • Pineapples

  • Sweet Peas (frozen)

  • Onions

  • Papayas

  • Eggplants

  • Asparagus

  • Kiwis

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Cantaloupes

  • Broccoli

  • Mushrooms

  • Honeydew

Final Thoughts on the Organic Question

My approach to buying organic or not is the same as with all else related to food, just do your best. Make the best choices available to you based on availability & resources. There’s not much else you can do. Make these decisions consciously however & stay up-to-date on changing information. Try some of the tricks listed above to make the most of your selections & listen to your intuition above all else. If you are eating whole foods in great variety & freshness, you’re already ahead of the pack in many ways so just continue on & try not to feel discouraged if you think you should be doing more.