Organic Eating on a Budget

It’s been proven that organic foods are better for our health, but they can certainly reap havoc on our wallets. According to a Consumer Reports study, on average, organic foods cost approximately 47% more than conventional versions of the same foods. But do we really have to choose between breaking the bank and bettering our bodies?

The answer is no. Here are a few simple tips for eating organic on a budget.

Know How to Prioritize

In 2015, EWG released their “dirty dozen” list, citing the 12 produce items that contained the most pesticides. While you may not be able to afford eating 100% organic, you should make an effort to purchase the following items organic over anything else on your list.

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Imported snap peas
  • Potatoes

On the contrary, EWG has also uncovered 15 items that are least likely to hold pesticide residue. That said, don’t feel obligated to buy the following items organic if you have to pick and choose.

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwis
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes

Shop Store Brands

Store brands are typically cheaper than name brand foods, but that doesn’t mean they lack quality. In 2014, ALDI launched their “Simply Nature” line, with a great majority of the food options being certified organic. Similarly, Walmart offers over 100 products through its partnership with natural foods chain Wild Oats. Target’s hopped on the bandwagon, too. It's “Simply Balanced” brand features a variety of snack foods, dairy products, and even seafood. Many of these products are organic, and all are free of harmful ingredients such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup.

Use Coupons

You don’t have to get extreme, but doing a quick web search for coupons before hitting the grocery store is never a bad idea. Sites like Organic Deals and All Natural Savings regularly feature organic food coupons and sale information. Couponing can be time consuming, so if you only have a few minutes just look up the products you purchase the most of.

Buy in Bulk

Bulk organic buys are available at stores like Whole Foods and Costco, allowing consumers to get more bang for their buck and shop less frequently. At Whole Foods, their “bulk bins” make purchasing items like grains, spices, and nuts extra affordable. As for Costco, Consumer Reports cites that their “Kirkland Signature” line offers organic products that are just as good as top brands. The editors point out that their organic milk and eggs are particularly great deals.

Buy from Farmers

Buying directly from farmers allows you to skip the middleman and the markup. Shopping at farmer’s markets, investing in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), or going straight to your local farmer are all great ways to get direct deals. Many farms, including organic ones, allow you to pick your own produce for prices lower than those you would see at a store. To find a local farm with this sort of offering, visit www.pickyourown.org.