How to Save Money on Organic Food
Anyone who has visited a grocery store knows that often organic food does cost a little more than conventional food. However, there is sound reasoning behind most organic pricing and in many cases, it's still worth the extra cost.
If you're concerned about the higher cost of organics, take a look at the tips below, which will help you save more money when buying organics.
Americans have gotten very used to buying cheap, highly processed food, which can make healthier organic food seem more expensive than it actually is. Sure it's less expensive to buy a store-brand bag of chips than a bag of organic apples, but in the long run, your health will suffer. Beyond health, there are tons of reasons why you should buy organic food. Start learning about organic benefits now, which will make organics seem much more affordable in the long run.
Only Purchase Real Organics
There is a big difference between real organic products and fake organic products. Real organic products are certified to standards that help justify the higher cost. Fake organics aren't certified, and only use organic terminology as a means to charge customers more money for goods or to create buzz around their "organic" product.
The absolute best way to save money on organics is to only buy the real deal in the first place because otherwise, you're simply throwing cash away on a fake product.
Stick to the Basics
When it comes to organics there are two ways to stick to the basics. One, stick to basic healthy foods. Junk food in any form will drive your costs up, but organic junk food, like chips, soda, and candy is especially expensive. Buy healthy food items first such as whole grains, produce and the like, while only using excess money for treat foods.
The second way to stick to the basics is to use tried and true cost-cutting grocery methods. For example, always shop with a list, don't shop hungry, bring a calculator, compare costs and keep your eye on unit pricing. These tricks work no matter what you're shopping for, including organic food.
It's easy to overspend when you're unorganized. For example, you buy more pasta because you can't find the pasta you already have at home or you're not sure what those leftovers in the freezer are because you didn't mark them. Overbuying organic food because you've lost track of the food you have is a huge waste of money.
Try this quick test to see how organized your pantry is—can you visualize most of the food you have on hand and make a quick list of food you actually need? You should be able to pull this off. If not, it's time to get organized...
- Clean your pantry and fridge out at least once every other week.
- Always label leftovers.
- Write groceries lists in the kitchen so you can check supplies.
- Use see-through containers for leftovers.
- Organize your pantry in a logical way—baking goods together, canned goods together and so on.
Buy Non-certified Organic Food
Above, we reminded you to always look for the organic seal and it's true that this is a great way to avoid fake organic food. However, there are a few farms in just about every area who use organic growing methods but who aren't certified. Usually, this is because a farm is so small that the cost of certification would outweigh the profits or they have few profits so they're exempt from certification.
Non-certified organics often cost less than certified. You can find non-certified organics at Farmers' Markets and often at local farm stands. Because it's not certified, you'll want to talk to the grower and find out about their growing methods.
Create More Room in Your Budget
If you're invested in organic food for the long haul, one of the best ways to afford it is by creating more room in your budget by cutting out unnecessary items. Good ways to save money for organics includes canceling some or all of your cable television, recycle more to save on your garbage bill, stop buying expensive bottled water, cook at home more often and eat out less, make coffee at home vs. buying take-out coffee.
Join a Food Co-op
By joining a local food co-op, you may be entitled to special discounts, sales, and other money-saving deals. In general, a food co-op is owned by community members who buy shares to gain said membership. Almost all co-ops are locally owned and support local farmers and other local businesses. Although you don't need to be a member to shop at a co-op, the discounts are better if you are a member.
You can locate a local co-op at the Cooperative Grocer's Co-op Directory, at Local Harvest or in your phone book.
It's way more expensive to eat out of the seasons than it is to eat with them. For example, organic berries are insanely expensive in the winter, but during the summer grow with abundance so their prices go down. Find a good seasonal food guide and stick to it. If you can't find a seasonal eating guide, simply watch for the best sales in your store. If it's on sale, there's a good chance it's in-season.
Purchase Bulk Organics
Organics are almost always less expensive in bulk. Both by the case and in the actual bulk food area of your local store. You can find just about any organic food in bulk nowadays, including whole grain baking goods, spices, rice, pasta, cereal, nuts, granola, peanut butter, coffee and so much more. If you're a fan of buying online, also look for bulk deals. For example, buying 8 gallons of juice at a time in a case will be far less in the long run than buying each gallon individually.
Learn to Cook
If you aren't the best cook, there's no time like the present to learn. If you are a decent cook, but depend on take-out often, switch gears. Homemade food is almost always less expensive than processed heat-and-serve foods or food ordered out. If you can learn to whip up organic sauces, soups, pizza, bread and other meals on the fly, you'll save a lot of money.