Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Ways to Eat Organic without Breaking the Bank

Coming from a lifestyle of couponing like a mad woman and spending less than $60 a week on groceries, making the switch to eating organic was enough to give me heart palpitations.  I remember buying my first gallon of organic milk.  I think I must have stood in front of the dairy section for 10 minutes drawing battle lines in my brain.  People must have thought I was crazy....I'm sure there was a point a started talking to myself to ease the pain of the whole process.  I brought the gallon home and tortured the whole family by rationing it for a week!

Now, groceries cost us between $80-120 a week depending on what I decide to stock up on or if there is a splurge for something out of the ordinary.  It's more than we used to spend, but our new eating style has caused savings in other areas to compensate for it.  Here's what I mean....

#1:  Eat out less.  As we slowly switched from conventional and processed foods to 100% organic, our desire to eat out went to a complete zero.  I'm not saying we never eat out, but it doesn't taste as good, and we really only do it when life circumstances push us that way, or we are traveling.  Even when traveling, I try to pack as much food from home as I can possibly bring myself to prepare.

#2:  Grow your own veggies.  Even if you are growing 1/4 of the veggies you consume, it's a huge dent in the grocery bill.  I know it seems like an overwhelming task, but I promise you if you just jump in and try it, you will find it's not that big of a deal.

#3:  Limit processed foods.  Even the organic ones!  It will save you a fortune.  If there's items you like stocked in your freezer like waffles, pancakes or frozen lasagnas, make them yourself in large batches and freeze them.  Stock your pantry with healthy homemade snacks like granola bars and muffins.  Have a girl's night!  Each of you provide a recipe and everyone chips in on the ingredients and the labor. I also find this keeps me in the kitchen more and not out entertaining myself with other things that cost money.

#4:  Buy in bulk.  The bulk bins at the health food store are not only a benefit to your pocket, but also supports environmental health with less packaging and shipping.  Bulk bins allow you to buy in smaller quanties, but buying in even larger bulk can save you tons.  For example, I pay $1.35 a pound in the bulk bin for wheat berries compared to  $.89 a pound in 6 gallon buckets from my grain co-op.  Buy your fruits and veggies in bulk when they are in season and less costly.  Then, learn how to's very satisfying to see a pantry full of items you canned yourself!!

#5: Join a co-op.  There are all types of co-ops out there from organic produce delivered right to your door to bulk grains and beans.

#6:  Hunt and Fish your own meat.  This saves us so much on our grocery bill.  The hubby has our freezer stocked with shrimp, fish, gator, venison and wild pork.  What else could you ask for??  Maybe a little squirrel or rabbit when I get the guts up to try them :)  I hear both are amazing, but I just can't take the leap yet!!   I need to talk the hubby into offering classes on this...maybe a few takers on the idea might push him ;)  Until then, find a friend who has these skills and learn everything you can from him (or her)!!

#7:  Eat less dessert.  I can whip up a healthy dessert that won't blow my waistline, but too many of these will for sure bust the bank.  Curing an occasional craving can be less expensive by keeping a quality chocolate bar laying around.

#8:  Make a budget and stick to it.  Once you get the hang of what it's going to cost to eat organic and whole, pulling a budget together is simple.  Sticking to it will keep you from making those extra purchases that you really didn't need in the first place.

#9:  Shop your local farmer's market.  Support your local farmers!!  It's good for you, the local economy and the environment.  There are always great deals on all types of local grown food at the farmer's market.  You will be buying in season, so you will pay less.  Stock up on freezable items like strawberries and use them all year round.  I like taking an occasional trip to the Gainesville Farmer's Market where I can find organic free range chickens for half the price of what I pay at the store.  It's worth an hour trip every few months to stock up, and we get to visit family. 

#10: Use food to get your daily dose of vitamins.  When you eat properly, the need to supplement with vitamins decreases exponentially.  This could save you a fortune!!

Take it slow, make one change at a time, and you will find that it is possible to eat whole, organic foods without going broke!

Happy Shopping!!

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