If you'd rather not consume chemical pesticides, mysterious food additives, antibiotics and GMOs — in short you'd like your food to be food and nothing else — organic is the way to go. The more frugal way (in the long run) is to grow your own food if you have the space, whether it's an entire edible garden with fruit trees and vegetables, or a few potted herbs in your kitchen - most of us will buy vs. grow our own.
For those of us operating on a tight budget, organic foods can seem out of reach. With just a few tweaks to your shopping routine, however, high quality organic foods can appear on the menu more often. Here's some tips from Wise Bread about savvy and frugal ways to buy organic food.
Establish Organic Priority
Not all conventional produce is equally toxic. After 43,000 tests of pesticide levels in conventional produce, the Environmental Working Group concluded that consumers could reduce exposure by almost 90 percent just by shunning the 12 most contaminated foods (the "Dirty Dozen") and eating the least contaminated foods instead.
Plan Meals Using Sales Flyers
Meal planning is a great way to keep your grocery budget under control, and if you're going organic, doing so with the help of sales flyers is doubly helpful. Subscribe to email flyers from stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, and Earth Fare to plan meals that utilize the organic foods on sale that week.
Opt for Store Brands
Demand for organic foods has grown rapidly, and traditional grocery chains have taken notice. Many have launched their own brands of organic staples like milk, granola, canned goods, and spaghetti sauce, all for less than popular brands. Just be sure to always look for the USDA organic seal — otherwise it's not certified.
Warm Up to Frozen Foods
The frozen foods aisle is one of the best places to find bargains on organic fruits and vegetables. Use the freezer case to stock up on your favorite organic ingredients for baking, smoothies, soups, and side dishes, and never worry about spoilage.
Buy in Bulk and Use Buying Clubs
Specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods are no longer the only place to find organic foods. What many don't know is buying clubs like Sam's Club and Costco also carry a variety of organic produce and dry goods. They're an especially good place to by certain organic goods in bulk, which is always a cost-effective way to shop.
Practice Nose to Tail Cooking
When's the last time you roasted an entire chicken? Or bought a side of beef? Buying pre-butchered meat cuts is convenient, but costly. Buying less-processed meat, poultry, and fish can save you big time. It also provides ingredients for multiple meals with only one cooking and allows you to make your own sauces and stocks with the bones.