I am a Stonyfield Blogger, and I am compensated for my time. All opinions, however, remain my own as I share how to make organic affordable.
The more I learn, the more important it is for me to choose organic items for myself and my family. That first transition at the grocery store was painful. Wait, you want me to pay what for organic items? I had to talk myself into believing (again) that it was worth the cost. Over the years, I’ve continued to buy organic where I can, and I’ve found a number of ideas as I work on how to make organic affordable for my family.
It is doable. Yes, it involves making choices, but it isn’t as daunting as it may initially appear. With a little thought and planning, you can bring more organic into your budget. Promise.
How to Make Organic Affordable
Decide what matters to you. Not everything you purchase has to be organic. Does that sound like blasphemy? Really, it isn’t. The peels of bananas, for example, protect the fruit, making it less critical to buy organic bananas than apples, for example. Spinach, potatoes, grapes, strawberries, and more are other produce items that should be bought organic where possible. Onions, grapefruit, pineapples, corn, asparagus, and others have the lowest pesticide load and are the safest conventionally grown items, so you can feel better about not having to purchase every single item organic. You can download my free printable of produce that has the highest and lowest pesticide load so you can decide for yourself what matters most to you as you try to figure out how to make organic affordable in your house.
Reevaluate your food budget. Realistically, going out to eat with my family – my husband and two kids – is a $50 or more proposition. Easily. For one meal. Are we better off eating out or making delicious meals at home that contain organic ingredients for a fraction of the cost? The meals don’t have to be complex or hard to make. Burrito bowls are currently one of my family’s favorite meals and it’s a great step in figuring out how to make organic affordable. Rice, black beans, tomatoes, frozen corn, grilled chicken, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and lime? Even with all organic items, that meal that usually gives us leftovers costs way less than $10. Skip eating out once in awhile and find fun meals you can easily make (quickly) at home. I have a ton of weeknight dinner ideas I’ve shared that you can make in a half hour or less that taste great and can be made with organic items.
Do the work yourself. One easy fix when figuring out how to make organic affordable? The cheese I put on those burrito bowls comes from a block I grate myself. The black beans are much cheaper when you buy them dried rather than in cans. Every time I see the fruit and veggies presliced, my wallet cries a little. Not only is all the extra packaging a waste, but it’s far more expensive to buy items that are precut and presliced for you. Don’t buy the pomegranate arils in a cute little box. Buy the whole pomegranate for a fraction of the cost and have the fun of removing the seeds yourself. Carrots are a great example. I was at Walmart the other day and saw a (small) organic produce area. The carrots, for example come bagged as baby carrots or as whole carrots. Those bagged baby carrots are so much more expensive than the whole carrots. And the whole carrots always taste better to me, too. Sure, you have to peel them when you want them, but set up a cutting board in front of your tv one night and prep your fruits and veggies for the next couple days while you watch. You’ll be surprised by how much you can do and how quickly.
Buy whole foods. Along those lines, do your best to buy minimally processed foods. The sticker shock on organic pasta is one thing. Checking our the cost of an organic frozen meal or cookies, etc is an even greater shock. The benefit to minimally processed food is that you know even more what goes into your meal than when you’re buying it prepped for you, which has the advantage of not only solving the how to make organic affordable question but also being healthier for you in most cases. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with a few favorites and work your way up there. Even if it’s scrambled eggs and bacon, that’s a great meal.
Make your own. Really. There are so many foods that you can enjoy so much more cheaply and make yourself. Pasta sauce? Easy and inexpensive. Homemade pickles? It’s shocking how easy they are to make, and they taste amazing. Fruit syrups are as easy as tossing fresh or frozen fruit into a pot with a little water and sugar and letting it simmer down for fifteen or so minutes. Hot fudge and caramel sauce are eminently doable. Ice cream, too. With my new spiralizer, I’ll even be making my own potato chips. I’ll admit, I’m still scared of full on canning, but there are plenty of make it yourself items – this is how to make organic affordable – you can create without canning. Even those pickles aren’t canned in a water bath. The mason jars just make great containers and seal well.
Plan out your meals. I follow a European shopping model. I’m at the grocery store buying fresh food every couple days because that’s what I like to do. I enjoy shopping, and I like picking up the freshest ingredients for my meals. But just because I shop that way doesn’t mean you have to. Shopping that way allows me to not plan ahead as much as I should sometimes, but I don’t end up with waste because I’m not buying as much in a given trip, knowing I’ll be back again soon. Plan ahead for every meal and snack. Don’t buy lettuce simply because you think you should. Where are you going to use it? When? How much do you need? Figure it all out so that you don’t throw away any food. Simple reducing your waste can be a huge help to your budget.
Buy only what you need. Did you know that you don’t have to buy that entire bunch of celery? Did you know that the bag of grapes doesn’t have to stay packaged as it is? When items in the produce section are sold buy weight, you can separate items so you buy only what you need. Go ahead, buy three bananas instead of nine. You aren’t breaking any rules, and you can stick within your budget by doing so.
Find the places that have the best prices on organics. I have a local produce market I love. It’s always busy, which means that the produce turns over quickly and it’s always fresh. That quick turn also means that they can keep their prices down – and they do. I may go into the store with an idea of what I’m buying, but I am also flexible. When I walked in the other day and saw organic Braeburn apples for $0.89 per pound, I stocked up. I didn’t overbuy, but I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen organic apples that cheap. Their organic avocados are currently 2 for $1, so you know I picked up some of those. Mashing avocado with a little chopped tomato, lime, and a touch of salt is a great mid afternoon snack for me. Those apples paired with slices of cheese make for a great light lunch. I know I can find great prices there, and I pick up most of my produce in a special trip there. I tend to not buy my organic meats there because their prices aren’t as great, nor is the selection (yet), but I have another store I use for that.
Don’t give up on the big box stores. Organic is becoming easier and easier to find, which means that it’s carried in more and more mainstream stores, and their selection has become greater, as well. Walmart is a great example. I feel like every time I walk into the store, I find more Stonyfield products on the shelves. The organic yogurts are delicious and make for a great meal, whether eating them with fruit for breakfast, using them in recipes for desserts, or cooking with them especially in marinades for chicken. And the more you ask at the store for the organic products, the more likely they are to increase their selection.
Don’t feel like you have to do all of this. What works for me may not be the ideal solution for how to make organic affordable for you. Even making small changes can make a big difference over time. Start small, and go from there!