How to afford organic food

With the real food revolution in full swing more and more people want to eat organic food.

We’ve all heard members of the health community say, ” you can pay for organic food now or pay with poor health and doctors bills later.”  That’s all well and good, but many people just simply can’t afford it now.  I’m not pointing any fingers because I used to say the exact same thing.  But after buying our little farm in Missouri I’m a lot more compassionate and encourage my clients to do the best they can within their budget.

Living in Los Angeles for 11 years I was completely oblivious to what most Americans are facing at the grocery store. In LA, you can find a farmers market on nearly any day of the week all year long. Plus you’ve got a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods who always carry affordable organic options. Did I just call Whole Foods affordable?  Yes, I did.

My hubby and I were grocery shopping while in Missouri one day and I was shocked at how expensive organic food is here. My jaw hit the floor at the HyVee when I picked up a package of two organic chicken breasts for around $13 dollars.  What the…?  No wonder it’s such a conflict and challenge for a lot of people!

How can you afford to eat more organic food and stretch those health food dollars further?  Here are 7 great tips to get you started.

Tip #1

Shop at the big box stores sparingly and YES! shop at those farmers markets as often as you can. You save a bundle buying direct from the farmer.  Plus, you are supporting local farmers and keeping your dollars in your own community. Feel-good bonus! But in some communities farmers markets are still a novelty and can actually be more expensive. Here’s the key to saving at farmers markets, Anton Dy Buncio, founder of FoodSherpa.com says, “head to farmers markets before closing – many vendors will give a good break as they are trying to unload their last inventory.”

Tip #2

Instead of buying pre-made or packaged foods, buy ingredients. According to Sandy Papanek of Nourishous.com when you, “Buy ingredients, not prepared foods. You will save a bundle buy cooking and preparing your own food. Making your own granola, soups, salads and grains is roughly 80% cheaper than buying those already made.” So, roll up those sleeves and give Betty Crocker a run for her money.

Tip #3

Buy from the bulk section. Steve Krusie who represents Frontier Co-op and Simply Organic suggests, “buy from the bulk section, since you don’t pay for extra packaging and you only buy what you need.”   Click here for a great resource about the benefits of buying in bulk.

Tip #4

Anand Bhatt, in his book ROCK STAR RECIPES, offers this tip for affordable organic grocery shopping: “Shop at an Indian/Asian grocery store – preferably a small one. They don’t charge the enormous markup a non-ethnic store does because Indian consumers and exporters tend to take “organic” for granted and won’t stand for the high prices. I get everything from organic tea to vegetables at no less than a quarter of the price I pay at any other type of grocery store.”

Tip #5

I love this daring tip from Susan Schenck, LAc, author of The Live Food Factor. “Go to the supermarkets and ask them to give you what they throw out.  I know some people who dumpster dive at grocery stores, preferring to eat fresh produce that has reached its expiration date and is tossed in a trash bin than to eat cheap cooked food. I don’t blame them, but there is an easier way. Many of the stores routinely toss perfectly good produce because it has bruises or is somehow not picture-perfect. Ask when you could pick these items up before they get tossed.”

Tip #6

Grow your own. Starting a garden is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, you can grow greens in pots in your kitchen and save big. Kimberly Button from GetGreenBeWell.com says, “Grow your own greens. Unlike many other vegetables, spinach, kale, lettuce, etc. are super easy to grow. They take up no space at all -just a small pot – and you get results in a month or less. Since the average cost of buying a tub of organic spinach in the grocery market is about $4-6, you can spend just $1 on seeds and get 10-20 times more produce than you would in one single tub.  Great return on your investment.”

Tip #7

Stan Brown from SavingsAngel.com says, “never pay full price for groceries.” I like your style Stan. Savings Angel helps thousands of families across the country save big on all groceries, including organics. His company charges a small fee for access into their data base of coupons and matching stores. So, no more combing over newspapers and circulars for coupons or watching out for sales.

Okay real food rockstars! There you go. Seven great tips to save money on organic food. Now go buy some veggies.


Erin HugginsHow to afford organic food

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