In my home, organic food is a very important priority. Although our diet isn’t 100% organic, we try to make sure that the vast majority of our food purchases come from sustainable sources offering healthy, minimally processed products. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge for several reasons. I am on a tight budget, I don’t have time to cook everything from scratch, and my daughter is a maddeningly picky eater. Nevertheless, we manage to make ends meet and can still eat a predominantly organic diet on a budget.
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If you’re looking for ways to save money on organic food, here are a few tips.
1. Go to the farmer’s market. In general, produce at the farmer’s market is significantly cheaper than at the grocery store, and haggling and negotiation are often options when you’re dealing directly with the person who grew the product. Farmer’s markets also help to ensure that local farmers maintain more of their own profits from the sale of produce.
2. Join a grocery co-op. Look around your area to find out if an organic grocery co-op exists in your region. These small conglomerations of families order organic groceries in bulk, then divide them. This enables consumers to get organic groceries for at (or near) the wholesale cost– which can amount to as much as a 50% discount.
3. Order groceries online. My four-year-old daughter’s diet is comprised mostly of Annie’s Homegrown organic fruit snacks, Envirokidz snack bars, and Late July cheddar crackers. The problem: these organic kids’ foods can be outrageously expensive, with her favorite fruit snacks costing nearly a $1.50 an ounce. The solution: we order nonperishable organic groceries in bulk from Amazon.com and other stores. They end up costing about two-thirds the ordinary price, which adds up to nearly $40 in savings a month.
4. Grow it yourself. Growing your own organic food can be a fun way to take on a new hobby, spend more time outdoors, and– perhaps best of all– get organic produce for free. A simple herb garden or single tomato plant can save you far more money than you might expect. Gardens aren’t an option for everyone, though– so, if you have a friend or neighbor with a garden or farm, you can also consider offering help in exchange for a share of the harvest.
5. Clip coupons– and don’t be afraid to be the crazy coupon lady. I cringe when I see the extreme couponers on TV, because I’m afraid of being one of “those” people. But I must admit that I am one. When you get a circular in the mail, skim through to find all the deals that might benefit you. Clip coupons in your local paper and ask your local grocer’s customer service desk if they have a coupon book available. Finally, check the websites for all your favorite organic food products to see if they can send you manufacturer’s coupons. In the end, the habit of clipping coupons can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings.