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Are you interested in feeding your family better? Do you want to eat organic food but aren’t sure how to afford it? Believe it or not, you can eat organic on a budget
I started feeding my family organic food over six years ago. I was worried that doing so would make my household food budget skyrocket — but I was wrong.
I’m going to share tips for eating organic food on a budget. These ideas have helped me feed my family for less than $600 a month.
You Can Eat Organic Food on a Budget
People are surprised when I tell them I feed my family a largely organic diet for so little each month. I’ve had to work at it, but I’ve come up with a “system” that has helped me serve primarily organic food on the cheap.
Your food budget will vary based on where you live and other factors. However, these tips can help you slash your grocery budget and eat well at the same time. I’m a firm believer you can save money on everything if you try.
Why Serve Organic Food?
You might wonder why — or even if — organic food is so much different (or better) than non-organic food. Everyone has their opinion. Here’s mine.
For the past 40-plus years, we’ve been changing how we grow and process our food. Naturally grown, organic foods have been replaced with genetically modified foods and foods that are covered in pesticides.
But some people say the techniques that were introduced to supposedly make our food supply better have had the opposite effect. Currently, there is a large class action suit against Monsanto, the maker of a popular pesticide called Roundup. Among other things, Roundup has been shown to cause cancer.
Whether or not you believe that pesticides and GMOs are bad, you can’t argue the fact that it’s better not to put chemical poisons in the body than to take a chance and digest them. The more you know about the food you eat, the better. And you can never underestimate the value of knowledge.
Authoritative sources show there are many health benefits to organic food.
In my case, I’ve noticed a large change in my kids’ and my health since we’ve switched to an organic diet — especially where wheat is concerned. For example:
- We have more energy
- We’re better able to focus
- We rarely get sick
- Our sleeping habits are better
- Our moods are better and more stable
Just as changing your financial situation for the better can make you a financial powerhouse, eating better can make you stronger and healthier. If you’re thinking about switching to organic food, here are some tips for doing so without breaking the bank.
Find the Best Deals on Organic Food
There are stores out there that work to provide organic food for less. My two favorites? Aldi and Costco.
Aldi consistently helps us eat organic on a budget. We don’t buy all of our organic foods there, but we do buy:
- Olive oil
- Organic ketchup
- Organic produce
- Salad dressings that are organic
- Other organic items as they’re available
- White and whole wheat bread in organic versions
At Aldi, some organic versions of items are available regularly, while other items come and go. And Aldi offers some of the lowest prices around on everything. We take advantage of what they have when they have it.
Costco is another store that carries a lot of organic food. Some of the items we buy there in organic versions include:
- Frozen vegetables such as broccoli and green beans
- Fresh produce
- Flour and sugar
- Organic black beans
Costco has other miscellaneous organic products too. I’ve found it has a much larger selection of organic foods than other warehouse club stores.
I would suggest you scour the stores in your area for the best deals on organic food. Big-box stores like Walmart do have some deals on organic food, but I’ve found Aldi and Costco have better deals in many instances.
We do get organic milk and organic eggs at Walmart, however.
Visit Farmers Markets and Produce Stands
Farmers markets are another great source for organic foods. You can google “farmers markets near me” to find the closest markets to your location.
Keep in mind, farmers markets are largely unmonitored in most cities. Therefore, it’s important when visiting to ask each seller whether their goods are organic. Most will advertise when selling organic foods, but not all.
Roadside produce stands can be another great source of organic food, especially vegetables.
Again, you’ll have to ask the seller if they’re selling organic produce, but you might find some great bargains as you search.
Grow Your Own Organic Food
It might seem daunting to think about growing your own organic food. However, I’ve found that there are efficient ways to do so – even with limited time and space.
Now onto some tips for growing and storing your own organic food.
Only Grow What You’ll Eat
When you plant a garden, it’s tempting to plant some of every veggie you can find. However, that technique can result in wasted time, money, and space.
Instead, grow the organic veggies you and your family love best. For example, if you find yourself buying a lot of tomatoes at the store, grow organic tomatoes.
Conversely, if a certain type of vegetable won’t grow in your area or is difficult to grow, store, and maintain, you may want to buy it at the store instead.
As an example, I live in a northern state. We eat a lot of avocados, but they won’t grow up here, so we buy them at the store. Beans, peas, and tomatoes do well here, so we plant them.
Use your state’s growing conditions as a guide and grow only what you eat the most — then buy the rest. This will save you time and money.
Learn How to Store the Produce You Grow
Learning how to properly can and freeze food has been one of the most valuable skills I’ve spent time on. Yes, canning food can be intimidating. Almost everything new is.
But just as I’ve learned how to create passive income sources for my family, I’ve taken the time to learn how to preserve food as well. And I think once you learn, you’ll find it’s not as big a deal as you think.
When I started canning, I began with organic dill pickles. Pickles are fairly easy to can, and most people like to eat them. Then I moved onto making and canning fresh salsa with tomatoes, peppers, and onions we grew.
My next project was homemade spaghetti sauce (meatless) with organic tomatoes. Canning spaghetti sauce is a bit more of a project, so I tackled that with a friend.
After the spaghetti sauce, I decided to try canning organic pear jelly. This was a BIG hit with the kids and other family members. And I felt great about letting my kids have jelly without pesticide-ridden fruit and high fructose corn syrup.
This book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, made it very easy for me to learn how to can food. The book is simply written and easy to follow.
Along with canning the produce you grow, you can freeze some of it too. Freezing is a great way to preserve veggies like carrots (for soups and stews), peas, green beans, broccoli, etc. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like the taste of freshly grown and preserved organic veggies from your own garden.
Don’t forget you can grow and preserve your own herbs too. We’ve grown basil, cilantro, dill, and more. The more you grow at home, the less you spend at the grocery store.
Growing Organic Meat
If you’re interested in having organic beef or chicken, you can raise chickens and cows on your land too — if you have the space and your city permits you to do so. However, if that’s not an option, you can find a local source for organic meats.
Look for Local Sources
While farmers markets are one local source for organic food, there are other options too. For instance, you may find local farmers in your city or neighboring towns.
We look for beef that is grass fed and free range. And we look for free-range chicken as well. While you’ll likely pay more for direct-from-farm beef and chicken than you will for the ultra-cheap meat at the grocery store, you’ll often pay a LOT less than you will for grass-fed meat at the grocery store.
In fact, I get grass-fed beef at a farm near me for roughly $6 per pound — almost half the price local stores charge for the same. Note that not all grass-fed meat is organic meat; you’ll have to talk with farmers to see exactly how they feed and raise.
My farmer raises his cows on grass and hay without pesticides — and never uses antibiotics or hormones on them — but he does finish them with a commercial corn feed right before they’re sold. I figure this is still better than the feedlot-raised meat I’d get at most stores.
Look at Your Budget to Find More Money
Another way I afford organic food on a budget is by cutting expenses in other places. For instance, I don’t have cable TV and spend minimal money at the salon, opting to do manicures and pedicures at home.
Similarly, we keep eating out to a minimum, instead choosing to create food masterpieces at home. I try to do what’s often referred to as a “value-based budget.” I work to minimize spending on things that aren’t important to me (i.e., fast-food runs) and instead spend that money on eating organic foods at home.
I’m convinced you can find a way to afford organic food, even if you’re learning to live on a tight budget.
If you’re interested in feeding your family healthier foods, consider using the tips above to do so affordably. Like paying off your mortgage early, eating healthy organic foods on a budget has a long-term positive effect on your life.
Laurie Blank is a mother of four and business owner who blogs about personal finance and passive income at Great Passive Income Ideas. Her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom and to a simpler, more peaceful life.
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