Getting Greener on a Budget: Eating Organic

Most of us would prefer to eat an organic diet, so we can avoid foods that contain hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides – right? But it’s often the added cost that trips up our intentions to eat healthier and help our planet in the process. Here are some tips we’ve found that may help you in your quest to succeed in bringing home better food – without breaking the bank!

1. Find and use organic coupons – in addition to clipping from your paper, your favorite products and stores often have these on their website or facebook pages. Also, you can add organic coupon websites to your favorites, to keep informed of various weekly sales and coupons. Here are a couple, savingnaturally.com and www.organicdeals.com

2. Organize your meal plans according to what’s on sale, the coupons you have, and what’s in season; check your store’s clearance area for organic products at a big discount.

3. Make things yourself, such as granola bars, juices, and kale chips – a huge savings, plus you’ll know what’s in them! Check out this book, Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet–All on $5 a Day or Less for inspiring ideas

4. Use your freezer to your best advantage! Frozen organic veggies and fruits are almost always cheaper than fresh, especially if not in season. Buy fresh produce in bulk at the market when it’s cheap and plentiful, and freeze some for later. (Tip: lay out cut pieces or berries on a baking sheet in freezer first so they don’t stick together.) Double recipes and freeze leftovers to enjoy later, when there’s less time and/or money to prepare fresh organic meals.

5. Make choices that make sense for your health and your wallet. Meat and Dairy are categories considered most important to get organic because non-organic can expose you to a combination of risks (pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics). You may choose to invest in organic here and consume less. Consider the lifestyle in Marc Bittman’s book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good.  Use EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists to decide which vegetables and fruits are most important to buy organic.

6. Buy local – many great reasons to do this, and one of them is it’s cheaper! Find your local farmers markets through word-of-mouth or http://www.localharvest.org/ .  When buying from the source directly, you can ask the farmer about their growing practices – many use organic methods, but don’t seek certification to keep their prices low. Consider going late to the market, instead of being the early bird – farmers want to sell all of what’s left, and will often lower the price to avoid packing up unsold produce.

7. Grow your own! From small containers of herbs kept near the house, or bigger plots with all your favorite veggies, this will always save you money – and you can know for sure the seeds were non-GMO, fertilizer organic. Check out this website for some great advice—www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/07/14/growing-food-lessons-learned/

8. Travel with organic food – pack it or stop at a grocery when you get there! Food Babe Vani Hari takes this to extreme and shows how she packed all her own prepared food for 4 day trip, and checked the cooler on a plane. This could save not just money, but time – think what you could do on a trip without time spent searching for a good place to eat, and worrying over meal costs that add up.

9. Waste less – always what we try to do, right? To see all the tips here, follow the link below. But here are two for those of you who make your own vegetable juices or nut milks: repurpose the former for added fiber in soups, smoothies or make crackers or bread. For the nut meal – use it for smoothies, baked goods like biscotti or to make nut flours by placing the pulp on a baking sheet and drying it out in a 250 degree oven or dehydrator.

Though many of these are common sense solutions you may already use, there may be some ideas on the list that you forgot about or didn’t yet know. You can find the source for these and more with many links to follow on the FoodBabe website at http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/20/how-to-eat-organic-on-a-budget/?sb

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