In an ideal world, eating organic food should be the norm. How else would you be against consuming food that’s free from preservatives, artificial additives and even harmful pesticides?
Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. The reality is that organic food is more costly than conventional food. Why? Because of the following reasons:
- Larger labor inputs with lower yields
- Limited organic food supply compared to demand
- Post-harvest handling costs including separating from conventionally produced food for processing and transportation
- Inefficiencies in marketing due to smaller volumes
As such, many people tend to keep off organic meals to avoid accruing expensive bills.
However, that does not mean you should shelve the idea of buying organic food altogether. There are numerous ways to go about it without hurting your food budget.
Here now are our top tips on how to afford organic food on a shoestring budget:
Cut down on meat
Eating meat is, by all means, an expensive affair. However, it doesn’t have to be an everyday meal. Cutting back on meat and increasing your veggie intake is not healthy for your body but will save you money as well.
If you are still adamant about taking meat, you can opt for different cuts of meat as an alternative. These meat cuts are less expensive and more nutritious, whether it’s the chuck, brisket, or sirloin. They might take time to cook but will be worth substituting for conventional meat.
Consider switching to plant-based meats too to lower your food budget. Because they are produced from widely-available grains, plant-based meats tend to be less expensive and healthier in the long run.
Buy in bulk
Bulk buying items tends to be cheaper as most come at a cost lower than the typical package. In other words, if you are not taking advantage of the “buy one get one free” sales, then you are missing out on a large chunk of savings.
However, just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you really don’t need it, buying it in bulk would only lead to waste. It only compounds the problem by taking money from your pockets that you could have used for food items you actually need.
When buying in bulk, stick to dried foods or veggies that have a long life, such as carrots, onions, or potatoes. Likewise, you can purchase larger meat cuts and freeze the portions for later use.
Grow your own
Growing your organic produce will save you a lot of money on vegetables. And you don’t need a huge garden space to grow your food.
You can make use of pots, which take up minimal space, to grow your favorite vegetables. Herbs can be a good place to start, given how expensive they are to buy at the grocery store.
Besides pots, you can also grow your produce on windowsills or the porch. Better still, you can opt for a raised bed, suitable for stacking up plenty of veggies into a small space.
Check our guides here on how to get started gardening:
- 8 Simple Steps to Start Your Own Organic Garden
- How to Create a Healthy Garden on Your Balcony
- Patio Farmer: The World of Container Gardening
Buy in-season produce
Buying any produce, let alone organic, is usually cheaper when it is in season. This is due to its abundance and the fact that it hasn’t been shipped halfway across the world.
The good thing with seasonal organic produce is that it’s cheaper, fresh and more nutritious.
If you are unsure when your favorite organic produce is in season, you can check out various seasonal produce guides online to stay informed.
Reduce food waste
According to research, Americans waste about 150,000 tons of food each day, roughly a pound of food per person. Even more startling is the fact that fruits and vegetables make up much of this waste.
There are plenty of ways to avoid this food waste and spoilage. Ensure you’ve entirely used your old produce before making another purchase. Speaking of purchase, avoid overbuying — only buy organic food you really need.
Keep all perishable goods in the freezer and non-perishable produce in a clean, dry place.
Consider frozen organic food
Under any given circumstances, one will argue that fresh veggies are healthier than frozen ones. However, that is not necessarily the case, as frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy and nutritious as their fresh counterparts.
Frozen produce is picked and frozen at the peak of harvest, thus preserving its nutritional value instantly. In contrast, fresh vegetables lose some nutrients over time while being transported over long distances to stores.
So the next time you head to the grocery store, keep a lookout for frozen or canned food.
Create or join an organic food co-op
If you want to be healthy on a limited budget, try out community food co-ops. They are more like grocery stores owned by a network of people. By signing up for one, you will access a wide range of healthy food items at low prices.
They are also a great way to discover new produce that you may not be aware of. How to find a food co-op near you? Simply perform a quick internet search or make use of online directories.
By all means, avoid supermarkets! They are fond of selling organic food at high prices compared to farmers’ markets. When you buy organic food at farmers’ markets, you are assured of fresh and cheaper organic produce than you’d get at supermarkets.
Produce at the farmers market comes straight from the source and is sold on the same day it’s harvested. It is tasty and highly nutritious, making for one sweet bargain.
Besides, shopping at farmers’ markets helps keep smaller farms in business and contributes to a healthy, sustainable environment.