Eating Organic On a Budget

We all wish that we could buy exclusively organic, but it is not always possible. Here are some of my tips for adding more organic items into your diet.

Quick Tips for saving on organics:

1. Make your own breads/preserves ect… Buy these ingredients in bulk when you can get a good price.

2. Buy from local farmers, farmer’s markets and co-ops. Local Harvest is a great website to find farms and markets near you.

3. Grow your own organic garden. This is not always an option for everyone. We are in an apartment with no place for a garden. You can still do a small in-door herb or patio garden.

4. Use coupons to get items that give you overage or make you a profit. Then use that profit to buy your items. This may sometimes entail getting items that you wouldn’t normally buy.  As I share my weekly shopping deals, you may sometimes see things that are extremely unhealthy.  I usually get these items when they give me overage that I can use towards the rest of my groceries.  These items normally end up being donated.

5. Be on the lookout for coupons on organic products. See my list of organic coupon resources for some help with this. One great way to get extra organic coupons, is to email or write to companies that have organic products. They will usually send out coupons to customers that take the time to compliment them on their products. They will usually also send them out if you have had an issue with their product.

6. Decide what absolutely has to be organic and what doesn’t. Then use coupons matched with sales to save money anywhere possible!  See a list of the Top 12 Fruits and Vegetables that you should buy organic.

7. Look for mark downs at your local stores. A lot of stores mark down organic items when they are close to going out of date, or when the item is being discontinued. If you can combine coupons with these mark downs, then you will get an even better deal.

8. Stockpile! If it is something that won’t go bad right away, and you have found an incredible deal, stock up!

9. Shop in Season. Buying in season on your produce will save you a ton of money. Find out what’s in Season each month HERE.

10.  Shop online.  More companies are starting to have spectacular online deals for organic foods and green products.  See how to use Amazon to save on organics.  Drugstore.com is another favorite of mine to save on green products and organic foods.

What are some ways that you save on buying organics?

This post was originally published January 8, 2009. Disclaimer: I do not buy exclusive organic, but I do the best I can to ensure my family is eating as healthy as possible.

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18 Comments:
  1. Thank you for the great information! I buy organic when ever possible and believe it or not the 99 Cent Only Stores carry many brand name organics. Earthbound Farms has a pocket guide that shows you which conventional fruits and vegetables are most likely to carry multiple pesticide residues. Its a free download at http://www.ebfarm.com/Products/PocketGuide.aspx Have a great weekend!

  2. When I buy from local growers I always ask if they have seconds. It is usually half the price and and it tastes just the same!BR/BR/My friend and I have also found a favorite local organic farmer who will give us a discount for buyig in bulk. We usually buy 5-20 bushels at a time and split it between us. Then I take the portion we will not be using right away and freeze/can it. It really does stretch our budget without compromising the quality and safety of our food.

  3. You’ve got many great suggestions here. We would just caution people against the idea of limiting their organic purchases to a small list of produce items. While there may be merit in this argument, it misses an important point: buying organic is about more than keeping pesticides out of our bodies. It is about supporting a system of sustainable agricultural management that promotes soil health and fertility through the use of such methods as crop rotation and cover cropping, which nourish plants, foster species diversity, help combat climate change, prevent damage to valuable water resources, and protect farmers and farmers’ families from exposure to harmful chemicals. In this sense, buying organic is a commitment to the bigger, more complex picture of which our personal health is a part.

  4. Thanks Organic Trade. I couldn’t agree more with you. However, with the decline in the economy and the financial struggles of many, we all can’t afford to buy exclusively organic. But hopefully, if everyone makes small changes, it will make an improvement.

  5. You mentioned Local Harvest & co-ops — but I wanted to put in an explicit plug for the CSA — community sponsored agriculture. Basically, you buy a share in a farm up front and receive the harvest through the season. These arrangements exist for all sorts of vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy products. Depending on the CSA, it may be a monthly or weekly delivery, which comes to your home, to a drop-off site, or is available as a pick-up from the farm. Local Harvest can help you find CSAs as well as farmers who sell sides of beef, pork, or lamb, which can drop your cost per pound to $2 or less. We are members of a weekly fruit/vegetable CSA and a monthly meat/dairy CSA, both of which are delivered to a pick-up site within a mile of our house. CSAs save us time and money — plus they support truly local, sustainable, ethical family farms.
    .-= Kaylea´s last blog ..Meal plan for 1/31/10-2/6/10 =-.

  6. I have found that many SuperMarkets now offer store brand Organics.
    Closeout and Discount stores like Big Lots and Christmas Tree Shops occassionally offer Organic products as well. ( I found 99c Big Jars of Organic Applesauce at Big Lots on one trip)!
    Great ideas! Great post!
    .-= Noelle´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday 2/1-2/7—-Welcome February! =-.

  7. Hi Crystal,
    I have been following your blog for a while and love all the great tips and deals. This post is great! I have made a goal for myself this year–an extremely difficult goal, but a goal nonetheless. I work part-time at Starbucks where we receive weekly tips. I am trying to do all of my grocery shopping with tip money. As you will see on my blog, it is certainly a challenge, but interesting to see how it can potentially be done.
    I agree with #4, and to some extent do the same thing. It’s such a double-edged sword, though. On the one hand you want to make it possible to afford the best you can for your family. On the other hand, buying the products that aren’t so great is like reinforcing them being on the shelves. It’s a tough battle. I do LOVE coupons though!!
    Also, I wanted to comment about #3. Last year I bought a planter from A Garden Patch (www.agardenpatch.com), which is a little pricey, but can go ANYWHERE (which is why I bought it) and delivers amazing produce. Check it out–I highly recommend.

    Thanks for all the great tips. I send my readers to your site often. :)

  8. I have had the same $80-a-week budget I had when I started couponing two years ago, even though I now have a nice stockpile to eat from and am good enough that I could probably feed the family on half that amount. Everything I save goes into improving the quality of our diet. If it wasn’t for using those coupons on the sale-priced oatmeal (or even the sale-priced Mac & Cheese, yeah, I buy it), I might not be able to get the organic berries and make sure our apples are always organic.
    It makes for kind of a split-personality shopping list, but it’s working for us. And I am definitely going to give the garden another try this year. We have really aggressive squirrels and a shady yard, which have caused previous crops to fail. But maybe if we get out there this year and make a table garden that is protected by mesh we can really grow something.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..ChicagoPoints: They’ll Pay You to Read the Paper Now =-.

  9. This article was great. I many of my friends on facebook asked me to start sharing some money savings tips and a lot of my friends and family buy organic so I posted this on facebook so they could get this great information. Thanks for all you do.

  10. I’ve been a member of a green social network over at http://www.greenwala.com for about a year now, and people in that community are always looking for sensible, straightforward tips on how to eat organic without resorting to mortgaging your pets. Your article is one of the better that I’ve ever seen on the subject so I just wanted you to know that I just shared it with everyone there in one of the discussion groups and also tweeted it. Thanks for taking the time to compile such a helpful list of tips.

  11. Thank you so much!! I have been asking the “organic people” to prioritize for me or to help me learn where to start…on a budget. I usually get these scary looks that basically say … “all organic or poison your children”. I’ve been reduced to tears and even a little anger because I feel so confused and frustrated. Finally, I feel like someone is thinking on the same wavelength as me. I just want a starting place. Then, when I find how I’m related to Donald Trump, I’ll be the most organic mama on the planet. Again, thank you for some easy-to-follow common sense to those of us who want to do the best for our families with what we have.

    • Julie – I COMPLETELY understand where you are coming from. I too have received this pressure from people. I know how bad stuff is, and I truly WISH I could do exclusive organic. But the reality is that I can’t, like so many people. All I can do is what I can. I truly believe that if i will do what I can do for my family, then the Lord will take care of what I can’t. :) I’m so glad you are here, and hope you stick around! I try the best I can to post deals that are healthy/organic.

      • Crystal, I will definitely stick around. In fact, I’ve been a faithful follower of your site for more than a year and have written it down for countless people who stop me in the store staring at my coupon binder. Honestly, though, I’ve ignored all the organic “stuff” because it’s felt too overwhelming to try (especially while learning couponing). But I am ready to tackle this organic business and find the right balance for my family. I appreciate your site and your common sense approach. It’s a pretty rare find, at least in my experience. Wish me luck on a garden this year. (I’ve been known to kill fake plants.)

        • I guess the green thumb is either inherited, or passed on at an early age. I have container herbs going bonkers in my window sills, and my dad has his tomatoes started. We all contribute to the compost piles, and have bird feeders up to distract the birds/squirrels.
          The best place to start would be your county agricultural office. Check the blue pages, or call the county clerk’s office to get the phone number. They can tell you what grows best in your “zone”, often have classes/seminars, and dozens of other services.
          Your local garden center (Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc) can also be a big help. But I know what it is like living in rural areas, such retail help can be few and far between. You can always check in your neighborhood for anyone with a big garden, or a pretty yard, and pick their brain. Most of us gardeners love to pass on what we know, and we may even have a cutting or two to share. :)

  12. Oh some great stuff here. I’ve just recently gotten into couponing this summer and am rather green however I’m trying. I’ll get it down and do as fabulously as you ladies do soon enough! I’m very proud of all the baking products I got for dirt cheap between sales and coupons and such.
    Kaylea I am trying to find a CSA that works into our schedule. I firmly believe in these methods. I do my best to shop first at Farmers Markets and then a local produce shop down the street for the rest. I did discover through Farmer’s Markets how VERY lovely FRESH beets are. MMMMM MMMMM.
    Julie, Crystal, Skye, I do not know if you ladies are still on here, however I hope you see this message, as I’m reading this blog it’s been almost a year on your new quest to find your organic balance as frugally as you can. I’m curious how’d it go? What did you find? Any ideas/tips.

  13. It pays to shop around. I was looking to buy organic brown rice in bulk (25lb bags)
    in local coops etc. Turns out that my local grocery store had it for far less per pound than any one else. It only came in two pound bags. I foundthat convenient. I’m starting my raised bed garden next year. I also found one of the best herbal books I’ve ever seen: “Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs”. Good used prices on Amazon
    or available in many local libraries.

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