It’s that time of year when many of us make New Years Resolutions and, unfortunately, some of those resolutions sometimes conflict. For example “Eat Healthier” and “Save Money” are two VERY common resolutions. However, it often seems to cost more to eat healthy than it does to eat junk. To help out, I am re-posting an article from earlier in the year that I wrote about organic food for less. Keep in mind that these tips are good for other “healthy” foods as well, and not just organic.
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Healthy and Organic Eating on a Budget
Eating organic is great for your health and for the environment, but it’s not always so great for your wallet. But, with these tips, you can eat organic foods without breaking the bank.
Shop at Local Farmers Markets
Unfortunately, this is only possible in certain seasons for most people, but the savings at a market can be great. The food you find is usually much fresher than in the store and therefore will keep longer in your refrigerator, so stock up! HINT: Stop by the market again just before closing. The selection will be smaller, but vendors hate to truck merchandise back home with them, so they may slash prices. To find farmers markets in your area, check http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/
Buy in Bulk
Many natural food stores and co-ops sell a wide variety of foods in bulk. You can find staples such as flour and sugar, pasta, beans, rice and other grains, honey, peanut butter, cereal, olive oil, dried fruits and nuts, and much more. Compare the bulk bin prices to the prices of pre-packaged counterparts and you may find substantial savings. Another plus is that you can purchase as much or as little as you need. No need to buy a big package of a product you use infrequently – just buy a few scoopfuls. It’s also a great way to try out a new item without having to take the risk of buying a large amount – just buy a little bit and test it out to see if you like it. Not only will you be saving money by buying bulk products, but you’ll also reduce the waste of excessive packaging. Many stores even allow you to bring your own reusable containers.
Reduce Processed Foods in Your Diet
Processed foods, whether they are organic or not, are almost always more expensive than foods made from scratch. Use simple recipes to make your own bread, baked goods and snacks to see the savings add up. Skip the packaged frozen dinners and throw together your own stir-fry or other entrée. You might say “I don’t bake!” or “I don’t cook!” but there is an abundance of simple recipes available and once you get started you might find a new hobby! The simple bread recipe in this article is a great way to start: http://thriftyjinxy.blogspot.com/2008/02/bread-prices-rising-again-what-can-you.html
Check the “Recipes” link on the right side bar for more recipes from Thrifty Jinxy.
Grow Your Own
Buy Direct from Local Farms
Many farms sell directly to consumers. Like food from a farmers market, direct from the farm is about as fresh as you can get. To find farms that sell directly, you can check your state’s Department of Agriculture web site, or try http://www.eatwild.com/index.html Another way to buy from local farms is to…..
Subscribe to a CSA
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription is a way to receive a weekly bundle of locally grown produce and other farm products. In most cases, you pay up-front for a full season of produce. Then each week you receive a selection that is currently ripe and ready for harvest. To find out more about CSAs and locate one in your area, check out http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
As organic foods become more and more popular, the larger manufacturers are distributing more coupons to attract consumers to their brands. Check for coupons at the customer service desk of your natural food store. There are also many web sites with coupons available – either to print or to sign up for mailings. A great list of these is compiled here: http://www.grocerycouponguide.com/articles/organic-coupons-natural-food-coupons/
By putting these tips into practice, you should be able to enjoy a healthy, tasty, environmentally friendly diet without spending a fortune. If you have any other tips for budget-friendly organic eating, or have any thoughts on this post, please leave a comment!