Nine tips on how to eat organic on a budget. Eating healthy, wholesome foods does not need to be expensive. Learn how to eat healthy without breaking the bank with these healthy grocery budget tips.
The one thing people seem to get stuck on when they are looking to set out on a healthy lifestyle, is the cost, and I get it! Your health is the biggest investment you can make, so I want to share my tips for eating organic, and living a natural lifestyle on a tight budget.
As a nutritionist and a foodie, the quality of food we bring into our home as always been important to me. Up until recently we had never set a grocery budget. Yikes, I know. I’d walk into the health food store and stock my cart with all of the local, organic, grass fed, pasture raised, and specialty foods I pleased. The quality of food we eat has always been an area I am not willing to skimp on. Nothing was going to waste, but I also knew that I couldn’t keep spending this type of money on groceries if we wanted to hit our financial goals. It was time to tighten things up, a lot.
It Is Totally Possible To Eat 100% Organic On A Budget, We Just Weren’t Doing It
Frankly, I wasn’t putting effort into budgeting when it came to our groceries. It felt like because it was an area I wasn’t willing to skimp on, there wasn’t much I could do about. That is just not true. I simply wasn’t trying to save or looking for better deals. With a little bit of effort, you can save a lot of money. If I can do it, I promise you can also learn how to eat organic on a budget. Here are some of my favorite tips that has helped us cut our grocery bill in half (actually).
Purchase Meat In Bulk And Direct From Farmer
Depending on your living situation, this one may be a little harder, but I promise you can make it happen if you want to. For reference, we used to pay $14 (yep) per pound of grass fed beef at our local coop. That might sound insane, and it kind of is, but it’s just how things are priced where we live. I contacted the very same farm that supplied this beef and found out I could purchase from them at $8.50 per pound. That is a massive difference, and while I get everyone needs to make money, I need to save it where I can. I then looked into purchasing meat in bulk from local farms and found that I could save even more. I have calculated it out, and by purchasing 1/4 cow, we will save over $500 a year, just on beef! That is a huge cost savings.
I get that not everyone lives in an area with farms nearby, or might have the struggle of storage. For us the cost savings would be worth buying a deep freeze off the buy and sell. Alternatively, I know some farms near us do smaller “apartment sized” bulk orders. This would fit easily into your fridge freezer, and while the prices on a smaller bulk order aren’t quite as good of a deal, they are still much, much cheaper than purchasing in store. If you don’t have a good farm near by, look further in your state or province. Many will ship orders with dry ice.
Buy Whole Chickens Instead Of Chicken Breasts
Okay, this one took me awhile to get into, because something about cooking a whole chicken on a regular basis seemed a little intimidating. Spoiler alert: it’s not, at all. For reference, where we live organic chicken breasts run $15 per pound. A whole 4-5 pound organic chicken is around $30. By cooking a whole chicken, we have enough meat for several meals, and I have bones to make homemade bone broth. A quart of store bought bone broth will set us back $20, so I always make my own. Choosing a whole chicken instead of specific cuts ends up going much, much further.
Again, this is a great place to look at local farmers. A whole organic chicken around here is $30+. Purchasing direct from farm, we can get them for $25, even less if purchased in bulk.
Shop At Bulk Stores
We have a great organic bulk store nearby, and there are plenty of online options, but even most grocery stores have great bulk sections. I have worked it into our budget so we can purchase a couple of items in large quantities directly from our bulk store each month. These will last us several months, and then each month we can rotate what we purchase from there. For example, our bulk store sells organic MCT oil which my husband has most mornings blended into his coffee. At the bulk store, a bottle double the size we typically buy, is half the price! Some items there isn’t a huge price difference in by purchasing in bulk, and others are massively different. This is definitely something worth looking into when you’re trying to eat organic on a budget.
We like to buy things like pure maple syrup, local raw honey, rice, brown rice flour, teff, rice pasta, coconut oil in bulk.
I touched on this a little bit when talking about meat. We also buy things like eggs, produce, milk, and honey locally. Until we have chickens of our own, we usually buy eggs from someone down the road with happy, pasture raised, organic feed supplemented chickens. We buy them at $5-6 per dozen, instead of $7 per dozen from the grocery store. We could get eggs cheaper if we weren’t particular about the organic feed.
For produce, farmers markets, in the summer especially are a great way to save some money. Not only that, but it’s better for the environment due to less travel time and less packaging, plus you get to support a local farmer. The produce are fresher, and therefore more nutrient dense. Head to the market at the end of the day to clear out what is left. You will likely get a deal! In the summer is a great time to buy things like winter squash, garlic, onion, and potatoes for very cheap which typically store well.
Keep in mind that most small scale farmers will not have an organic certification because of the price tag that comes along with it. Ask questions, many of them are still using organic practices.
Stop Buying Packaged And Premade Food
Convenience comes with a hefty price tag. Yes, there are tons of great high quality, healthy, organic foods on the market now, but they are so expensive! When I really started to focus on reducing our grocery bill, this was the first thing I had to come to terms with. Shop the outer aisles of the grocery store and you will be shocked by how much you save. Salad dressings, dips, avocado oil mayonnaise are beyond easy to make, and you’ll be so thrilled by how much you can save. Bone broth just requires bones, water, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and time. Pre chopped veggies sure are convenient, but taking an extra 10 minutes to do the chopping at home will have you set for the week, your budget happy, and you’ll have fresher veggies.
Make A Plan Before You Shop
Make a plan for your meals for the week before you shop. This has to be my biggest tip for how to eat organic on a budget. This does not need to look like a full on menu plan, unless that is your thing! I typically just take stock of what we already have on hand, figure out what proteins we need, and stick to buying simple vegetables like carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, and peppers. I keep these basics on hand at all times which makes throwing together meals simple. If I go the the store without a plan I come home with a lot of random things that don’t go together that well, plus some extras I definitely didn’t need.
Start A Garden
If this sounds intimidating, don’t let it! You don’t need much space to start a small vegetable garden. Even if it’s planting a few pots of herbs on your balcony, you’ll save some money and have fresh herbs all summer long.
Over the past couple years our garden has slowly grown in size. This year, it will grow again. We will grown enough potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and winter squash to last most of the year. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash varieties will be preserved through canning, freezing, and fermenting. We will stock our freezers as we do each year with fruit from the trees and berry bushes. Of course, not everyone will have the space to do so, but if you have even a little bit of space to work with, use it! Gardening is so satisfying. It brings several busy months especially through harvesting, but it is so worth it when you’re using all of those goods throughout the year.
Keep It Simple
As much as I love trying out new recipes and making elaborate meals, they typically have long ingredient lists. What that means is I end up with expensive ingredients in my pantry that don’t end up getting used. I have a small, very expensive, container of the spice saffron sitting in my spice cabinet from a couple of years back. When I keep our meals simple and substitute ingredients based on what I have on hand, I end up saving a ton of money on my grocery list. Keep the fancy recipes for more special occasions and just get creative with what you have on hand. My favorite part of cooking is letting my creativity flow anyway. When I am following a recipe I just don’t get that same experience.
For Canadians: Look Into The PC Optimum Insiders Subscription
Okay, this last one is specific to Canadians. I found out about the PC Optimum Insiders Subscription a few months ago, and at first I could not believe there was cost associated with this, and didn’t see how it could be worthwhile. Well, after some digging we decided to join and made back that subscription cost in the first month. As of March 2021, the cost of the subscription is $119 + taxes per year. What you get with it is 10% back in optimum points for every $1 spent on PC products and free grocery pickup. There are other perks, including a welcome box, but I am focusing on what relates to groceries here. This Optimum program is offered at Loblaw stores.
The grocery stores local to us do not have a large selection of organic foods, but No Frills, our store with the Optimum program, does. We buy most of our produce, frozen fruit and vegetables, and pantry items there, most of which are PC products. It really adds up, especially if you pay attention to your weekly offers in the app.
If you choose to sign up for the PC Insiders Subscription, use the referral code AV1777 which will give you a bonus 25,000 PC Optimum points, which is equal to $25.
Other Tips On How To Eat Organic On A Budget
- Don’t go to the grocery store often. In fact, I have recently started doing one big shop at the beginning of the month, and then just maybe one stop at the store per week only to get any produce I need. I take note of all the groceries we will need for the month and grab basics. I am less tempted to go to the store since I already have most of what I need on hand.
- Don’t let ingredients go to waste. Take inventory of what you have on hand before you shop. Every couple days take note of any vegetables that are on their last leg, or leftovers that need to be eaten. Sometimes this looks like a hodge podge dinner of some random leftovers from several days. Other times I will chop and freeze any vegetables that we won’t get to before they go.
I hope you found these tips on how to eat organic on a budget helpful. If you have any other tips, leave them below to share with other readers!