The most common excuse we hear for not buying organic food is “It’s too expensive!” While it’s true that organic food costs an average of 47% more than non-organic food, at WellBe we believe that the extra expenditure is well worth it. We often ask our friends who complain about organic food costs if they have a Netflix or HBO account or pay for cable television. If they say yes, we say, “If you can invest in entertainment, you can invest in your health by buying organic.” After al,l the connection between the chronic disease crisis and non-organic food is real, and very serious. Luckily, with a few smart strategies, you can stock up on all the organic food you want without breaking your budget. Read on or watch the video above to get our top 9 tips for snagging affordable organic food.
Top 9 Tips for Eating Organic Food on a Budget
- Choose your produce wisely.
If you can only go organic for a few kinds of produce, prioritize the items that have the most pesticides when grown conventionally. A great resource for finding those items is the EWG’s The Dirty Dozen, an annual list that identifies the produce with the highest pesticide residue. The list varies from year to year, but for 2019 the culprits are:
Instead, choose items from the EWG’s Clean 15 list, which spotlights produce with the least pesticide residue. Again, this list varies, but the best picks for 2019 are:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melons
- Shop locally.
Remember that if something is shipped from far away, it’s probably sprayed with a lot of unwanted chemicals to keep it looking “fresh” and to stop natural decay. And shopping locally generally isn’t even that much more expensive: produce bought at a farmer’s market is actually usually a similar price to that bought at a grocery store. Plus it’s worth more, since it’s fresher, and so has more nutrients. To get even more bang for your buck, go to the farmer’s market close to closing time, as farmers try to sell any remaining items at reduced prices before they head home.
- Cut back on meat and dairy.
These items are always more expensive than produce, especially in their organic form. Eating less meat and dairy in general will help lower your overall grocery bill (and can help improve your gut health).
- Bulk up.
Get dry goods (like nuts and beans) from the grocery store bulk bins, rather than packaged versions. This can save you an average of 89%!
- Buy generic.
Organic store-brand versions are generally far cheaper than name-brand versions, and just as good. After all, a USDA Organic seal of approval means the same thing, regardless of the brand.
- Go big!
Big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s are often unexpected troves of affordable organic food. In one comparison of the three major retailers, Costco had the widest selection of organic foods, as well as the best value.
- Go online.
We love online shops like Thrive Market that curate all our favorite organic brands in one place, and offer them at a reduced cost. It might not be the ideal place to get produce, but you can get a great haul of non-perishables.
- Batch cook on Sundays.
By cooking large amounts of a certain recipe or prepping food on Sundays, you can set yourself up to eat healthy, home-cooked meals all week long — or freeze them for the future. Doing this kind of upfront work will make it easy to avoid eating at restaurants or ordering takeout, both of which are generally far more expensive than cooking at home.
- Go couponing!
Clipping coupons from the newspaper may seem like a relic of the past, but don’t overlook their more modern incarnation: finding deals online. Search for brands you like and see if you can find promotions or sales that let you get what you want for less. There are also some super helpful websites — like I Heart Natural Deals, All Natural Savings, and Inspiring Savings — that help curate and collect coupons from natural and organic food companies. One company, Common Kindness, even donates 20% of the advertising fees they get from companies to a nonprofit of your choice!
With all of these tips, you should be able to stock up on organic food without going over your budget. And even if you do end up spending a bit more than you might have otherwise, remember to consider the fact that buying organic is an investment in your health. You’re protecting yourself against chronic disease, avoiding antibiotics and hormones, and even doing a solid for the environment. We’d say that’s worth a few extra bucks.