Organic living is definitely a way of life, but if you have a family with kids, you may find that buying organic and eating organic often seem to be less than frugal. It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, there are ways to live organically that won't break your pocketbook and can even have you living more economically friendly for the New Year.
1. Buy in bulk.
Buying large quantities is often cheaper per ounce/pound than buying individual-sized portions. Consider a warehouse membership or just look in your own grocery store for larger packaging. Look for recipes for interesting and new ways to utilize the larger amount of food to be sure it gets eaten or flash freeze it and store for use later.
2. Join a CSA.
Look into Community Supported Agricultural shares at a local organic farm. You'll be supporting a local business and benefitting from seasonal produce during growing season. Find a CSA near you.
3. Visit your farmer's market.
Make a habit out of going to the local farmer's market to buy product and meat. You'll get to know where your food is coming from and you're sure to be buying in season and will cut out the middleman of a grocery store by doing so. Oftentimes heavy fruits like melons and squash that are paid for by the pound in the store are significantly cheaper at a flat rate from the farmer's market.
4. Make a $ rule.
Unfortunately, organic food can be more expensive than non. For these times when you really feel that it's important to buy organic, like foods on the Dirty Dozen list, decide what price point is your cutoff for purchasing organic over nonorganic food. Is it 20% more than the nonorganic - 50%? Make a rule and stick to it. You'll find yourself naturally buying more organic options because of the rule, and you may also find that organic foods, when it comes down to it, are not that much more expensive. In fact, they may even be cheaper. (See #10)
5. Grow your own.
A garden is a wonderful and inexpensive alternative to buying produce. Seeds cost next to nothing, and the harvest can far exceed your expectations. Choose fruits and/or vegetables that you know you will eat or can freeze and can for use later.
6. Build a compost bin.
Compost bins are easy ways to get good, rich soil that acts as a natural fertilizer for your homegrown organic garden. They can be free or close to free to build and start, and they also reduce the amount of waste you're throwing away. They can also help save money by not having to get leaves hauled away in the fall or driving to dump grass clippings. All of that can go right into your compost bin and then be used for planting and gardening the following year.
7. Search for coupons.
Coupon blogs are everywhere and are an easy resource to get money off organic foods. On nonorganic-specific blogs, simply use the search feature to search for organic brands or just the word "organic" to locate deals and coupons you can use. Also check out this helpful guide to finding organic coupons online and print your own here.
8. Buy seasonally.
Buying food that is in season (from your grocery store, farmer's market or through a CSA) is cheaper and greener because of the lack of shipping costs getting the food flown in from elsewhere around the globe. If you want to eat organic food out of season, try freezing it and canning it while it's in season so that you have access to cheaper organic berries during winter months or fresh corn all year long.
9. Compare prices.
Be sure to check different stores to see whose organic products are lower. In my neighborhood I've found that my Target often carries some organic foods at the same price or lower than nonorganic varieties and definitely lower than other nearby supermarkets. Knowing where to buy organic foods for the lowest price will lower your grocery bill.
10. Cook more often.
With any food, organic or non, the more prepared it is, the higher the price is going to be. Buying bulk whole grains to cook with is cheaper than buying a box of organic cookies, for example. Same rule applies for other convenience foods. Keep costs low by, again, by searching for recipes and utilizing the kitchen in your own home.
Want more Certified Organic, Guaranteed Delicious™ stories from Cascadian Farm? You can get a $1 off coupon when you sign up for our email newsletter. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed for fresh stories almost every day!