This post about eating organic on a budget is sponsored by Boulder Organic! and may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosures for more information.
Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, so I wanted to take the time to talk about how to be a good steward to our beautiful planet. It might sound cliche, but we only have one planet, so it is our duty to take care of it… and perhaps leave it in better condition than when we found it.
One way we can be a good steward to Mother Earth is by choosing to eat organic foods.
I know many will say, “I can’t do that. Organic products are too expensive for my family. We are already on a tight budget.” I get it, such additional food costs can be difficult to stomach.
But have you ever wondered why organic foods cost a bit more than conventionally grown foods? I have, so I did a little research to better understand why such cost discrepancies exist.
First, I learned that organic farmers don’t receive the same federal subsidies that conventional farmers receive. This is a big deal. Subsidies artificially deflate the price of conventionally grown foods, therefore making it appear that organic farmers are jacking up their prices. This is not the case at all. When you buy an organic product, the price reflects the TRUE costs of growing your food.
Second, organic farms are typically small-sized, family-owned farms without the power of a large-scale conventional farming system. Large-scale conventional farmers benefit from economies of scale; the same luxury is not afforded to smaller farmers.
Third, organic farmers do not use genetically modified seeds nor harsh pesticides to grow their crops. Without these synthetic aids, it takes longer to grow organic crops (the way nature intended) and such additional labor is reflected in the costs, too.
The good news is that as consumer demand for organic goods rise, organic farm operations will be able to experience economies of scale and (hopefully) bring down the price of organic goods so they are on par with the costs of conventionally raised food.
You May Save Money Eating Organic
While purchasing organic food costs a bit more, I happen to think the organic lifestyle is cheaper in the long run. Much cheaper. Let me explain.
When you eat organic foods, it means you’re NOT eating foods doused in pesticides, grown with synthetic fertilizers nor foods that are genetically modified in anyway.
Most people don’t realize that putting a constant load of chemicals in their body day-after-day will make and keep them sick. It adds up, and eventually the toxic load will be too much to bear and inflammation and disease will ravage your body.
However, if you eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) toxic ingredients from your body, you may find yourself getting sick less and you may be less dependent on doctors and pharmaceutical drugs. On top of that, you may find that you rarely take a sick day from work (downtime from work costs you and your employer money!!), and your productivity goes up (when you feel well, you might find yourself able to work smarter).
In other words, when you look at the big picture, eating a healthy diet filled with organic foods may actually save you money in the end!
Plus, on the farming side of things, organic farmers don’t have to handle nor breathe in harsh chemicals and pesticides, all at the detriment to their health, and organic farmers don’t add to the chemical load leaching into our water supply. Yuk!
Organic living is just better for human health, and better for Mother Earth too!
How to Eat Organic on a Budget
Just because organic food costs a bit more money doesn’t mean you have to spend more at the grocery store.
I’ve teamed with Boulder Organic! to share my tips for eating organic on a budget. Please leave me a comment to share what tip resonates most with you.
(1) Buy “Dirty” Products Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list every year known as the Dirty Dozen. It lists the top 12 conventionally grown produce that contain the highest levels of pesticide residue. In 2018, the EWG listed strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers as the worst offenders.
Use the Dirty Dozen list to your advantage by buying the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables organic, and then buying the rest of your produce conventionally grown.
The EWG also publishes the Clean 15, which lists the produce with the least pesticide residue. This means foods like bananas, avocados, pineapple and asparagus do not need to be purchased organic, especially if you’re on a budget.
(2) Reduce Food Waste
According to The Guardian, Americans throw away about 50 percent of all produce, which adds up to some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually and costs the average American family $1,600 per year. Food waste also makes up a good portion of all trash stewing in American landfills.
You can do a few small things to combat food waste (and save moolah at the same time!):
a) Plan all your meals before you go to the grocery store. Buy only what you need and what you’ll use. (Read my Meal Planning Strategies.)
b) Use all your fresh ingredients (produce, meats, etc.) for meals early in the week, and save your least perishable foods for use later in the week. Fresh veggies should be incorporated in meals on Monday and Tuesday, while frozen vegetables can be used later in the week until you’re able to get to the grocery store again. Freeze anything you don’t use, or turn that extra broccoli into broccoli soup (broccoli soup freezes better than raw broccoli.)
c) Store foods properly to preserve longevity. You can do this by keeping fruits like bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves because they give off natural gases as they ripen and make nearby produce spoil faster. Only wash berries immediately before consuming so they stay fresh longer. Purchase herb storage pods to store herbs in the fridge so they last longer too (herb storage pods can preserve herbs three times longer).
d) Frozen produce is fine, in fact, frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh organic vegetables (and you don’t have to worry about waste due to spoilage). Certain produce, like peas and spinach, taste great frozen.
e) Repurpose food, if possible. For example, stale bread makes fantastic breadcrumbs or stuffing. Carrot peels, celery tops and chicken carcasses/bones can be used for making bone broths vs. tossed in the trash. Get creative. Use everything and let nothing go to waste.
(3) Buy in Bulk
Bulk purchase grocery stores, like Costco and Sam’s Club, offer great prices on organic foods. I’ve been particularly impressed with Costco lately. Its organic produce selection is outstanding! If you buy foods in bulk that you cannot finish, make sure to freeze or store leftovers (see “Reduce Food Waste”), or find a buddy to split your loot so you both save money and waste not.
(4) Coupons & Rebates
So many organic brands offer coupons – you just have to look for them. Download grocery store apps, subscribe to coupon sites, search the websites of the brands you like best, and look for rebates on apps such as Ibotta for cash back on groceries you’re already buying. I have seen coupons for Boulder Organic! soups on Lozo before, as well as rebates on Boulder Organic! soups on Ibotta. Google “find coupon for XYZ brand” and you might just find some good coupons or rebates on organic products you’re already buying.
(5) Shop Your Garden and Fridge First
Before going out to eat or going to grocery store, take a look at what you already have at home. Make sure you don’t buy excess foods you have and always try to eat through what you have before buying more.
Starting a garden is a great way to eat organically, too. Use organic seeds, they are easy to find at most stores that sell gardening supplies. When you grow your own food, you know exactly how it was grown and what chemicals (not!) were sprayed on it.
(6) Eat at Home
Most restaurants do not cook up organic foods (it’s too expensive), so if you want to eat organic, do it at home. I made a pact with myself. When I cook at home, I try to use as many organic ingredients as possible… but when I eat out, I just enjoy my meal and don’t worry about all those details.
Eating at home isn’t just better for your health, but it’s also better for your wallet. If you eat the majority of your meals at home, you’ll save yourself a ton of money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends about $3,000 per year on dining out. Wow!
Ready to Go Organic?
Remember, eating organic is not an all or nothing proposition. Try a few things at a time and as it makes sense for you. Remember, small changes to your diet add up to big changes in your health and an even greater impact on the environment.
When it comes to organic living, Boulder Organic! believes small changes can make a big impact. I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I’m partnering with Boulder Organic! for a special Earth Day Giveaway. We’re giving away a $300 organic shopping spree to one lucky winner!
To enter, post a photo on your Instagram feed showing us how you’re taking steps toward living an organic lifestyle. Tag @boulderorganic and @goodforyouglutenfree and include the hashtag #smallchangebigimpact to ensure your entry gets viewed and counted. Contest closes April 30, 2018 and we’ll pick a winner on May 1, 2018.
By the Way
Did I even mention yet that ALL Boulder Organic! soups are certified gluten-free and certified USDA organic? Woohoo!
I am obsessed with the Chicken Noodle Soup (it’s the only gluten-free chicken noodle soup I’ve seen, and it’s SO unbelievably delicious). I’m also a big fan of the green chili corn chowder, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with any flavor. They’re all delicious!
Boulder Organic! has so many veggie-loaded soups to choose from:
- Minestrone Soup
- Autumn Squash Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Quinoa & Kale Soup
- Chicken Vegetable Chili
- Green Chili Corn Chowder
- Butternut Squash Soup with Sage
- Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
- Golden Quinoa and Kale Soup
- Red Lentil Dahl Soup
- Garden Minestrone Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
Now take a second to think about how much money you spend going out to lunch – about $10 each day for something that is NOT organic, likely. Now imagine bringing one of these organic soups for lunch instead. You’d spend $3.49 (16 oz tub) and $5.49 (24 oz. tub) and have a healthy, organic lunch that nourishes your body and feeds your soul.