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5 Tips to Shop Organic on a Budget

Sep 14, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy

Organic Week is coming up and to celebrate I've decided to tackle one of the main reasons people tell me they don't shop organic - the COST.  Well I've got some good news - with a few tips and some savvy shopping, you can shop organic affordably and on a budget.

Before I get to it, I want to make an important distinction. It's not that organic food is more expensive, it's that mass-manufactured, industrial farmed and packaged foods have become so cheap!  For example, in 1950 30% of a households budget was dedicated towards food vs. only 13% in 2003 - and I can guarantee you it's not because people are eating half the amount of food.

With that said, I know that budget's can be tight so (in addition to my tips below) if you have to pick a choose where you spend on organic, be sure you use the Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifeteen list to help guide your choices.

So with all that said, here are my top tips to shop organic on a budget:

1. Shop in Bulk

Buying bulk for flours, grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats), nuts and seeds is far more affordable than buying food in a package. Packaging alone can make up 15-20% of the cost. You’ve seen how much unnecessary plastic and cardboard some food manufacturers use, it’s criminal! Nut butters are a royal rip-off if you don’t purchase bulk. In some cases they can cost $4-5 more than a similar amount purchased in bulk.

2. Grow Your Own Food.

Sprouts and herbs are my two favourite foods to grow at home in my pint-size condo. Despite my mom being able to grow anything (I swear she could grow a tree from ice), I didn’t inherit her green thumb, so if I can do it, so can you! Mung beans are my faves (see my video) and they are incredibly power-packed and nutrient-dense with B vitamins and protein. Even better if you have a garden to create an organic oasis of deliciousness! Kale is very hardy and easy to grow, same with tomatoes, cucumber, green beans, snap peas, squash and more.

3. Buy Supersize.

While I’m not a fan of massive stores like Costco and Walmart, I do appreciate they make organic more affordable to the masses. Of course I always prefer supporting local and independent businesses personally, but if you have a big family to feed then that tub of organic coconut oil for $25 that lasts you 6 months is pretty gosh darn attractive. Also, stores in Canada such as Winners and Homesense often have a food section. I’ve found hemp hearts, coconut sugarcoconut flakes and coconut flour for much cheaper and they are brands that I love.

4. Make Your Own Food.

Granola is one such breakfast food that is drying up your wallet. I’ve seen granola brands sell for as much as $11.99 and you’re lucky if you get 7 days of breakfasts out of that for one person. I only have two people to feed (Walker and I, and eventually Vienna) but even still, more often then not I make my own granola with the best ingredients and it’s about half the cost. Try my Cranberry Ginger Granola. Or instead of buying organic baked goods from your favourite health food store, make them yourself. I’ve got many wonderful baked goods in my book joyous health. Have you tried the Apricot Oat Granola Muffins yet?

5. Shop in Season.

One of the many reasons I love living in Ontario is the change of seasons which means a wide variety of different foods (although I could do without winter). When you buy foods that are in season, they are far cheaper. Even better, I have often found that organic food in-season is cheaper than it’s conventional counterparts. This is especially true if you shop at farmers markets and their fruits and veggies are growing in abundance. 

That's it! I hope these five simple tips help bring more delicious, organic food to your plate.

Do you have other tips to shop organic on a budget? Comment and share below!

Have a joyous day,

Joy

Sep 14, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy
16 Comments
Elyse   •   September 14, 2015

Do you have a favourite place to buy organic grains in super bulks? Something like 5-25lbs?

Reply

Chris Jennings   •   September 14, 2015

I research and have ordered online ....most important is proper storage....I have seeds/nuts/flours in good plastic containers lined up on door shelve...I really need two refrigerators.....Live in Maryland, USA; organic is getting better, but a challenge.

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 15, 2015

Hi Chris, Agreed! How you store the food is almost as important as what you buy and how you buy it. Kate - Joyous Health Team


Sarah @ Seriously Lovely   •   September 14, 2015

I like to stock up on organic meat when it goes on sale and freeze what we won't use right away. This saves us a lot of money because organic meat can be pricey when it's full-priced. I like your suggestions about buying in season as well--I've been trying to do this more and it really does save money!

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 15, 2015

Great idea! Kate - Joyous Health Team


Pandora   •   September 15, 2015

Absolutely! My number-one tip: The cheapest foods are often the healthiest. (Not always - organic red raspberries, I'm looking at you.) Garlic, onions, chives, watercress, scallions, radishes - all dirt cheap. Organic forbidden (black) rice lasts forever and can be bought in bulk on Amazon. Even organic eggs can be viewed as cheap, considering how much good-quality protein they provide. Elyse - I once bought a many-pound bag of organic corn kernels from Amazon. I think they have other grains too.

Reply

Maggie   •   September 22, 2015

I would say that using everything is a great tip! From using the tops off organic carrots for bone broths to dehydrating and using juice pulp for crackers. Make use of everything and let nothing go to waste, or feed your compost ready for next years garden.

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 23, 2015

Hi Maggie, Agreed! Kate - Joyous Health Team


Aisling   •   September 23, 2015

I'm really stuck on the local or organic issue...I find it really hard to find local AND organic produce (strawberries, apples, peaches - all part of the dirty dozen!). Any thoughts of which we should be supporting?? ...and of course, most times local fruit tastes better, has traveled less, and is cheaper, but not organic! ugh!

Reply

Kaila   •   September 24, 2015

I loved this article. I know this may be a silly question/request but I think you should supply a chart of what's veggies/fruit are in season! --I live in Toronto too ;) Some are obvious (e.g. berries/peaches throughout the summer, apples in the fall) but what is in season during the winter? And what else is in season during the other months?

Reply
Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 28, 2015

Hi Kaila, This is the chart I usually use: http://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/availability-guide Kate - Joyous Health Team


Tammy   •   February 6, 2016

My tip ..is that I recently started with an organic delivery service ..The variety has been amazing, the produce outstanding and it is much more cost effective than the store. Additionally, we have received vegetables that I may have not tried like valentine radishes last week. The kids are excited to get this weekly box.

Reply

Linda   •   September 22, 2016

I've been scared off bulk nut butters, having recently bought some and found it to be rancid. The "grind-your-own" option might be better, but is just as expensiveas pre-packaged and STILL not guaranteed to be fresh.

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Heather Allen   •   September 23, 2016

Good to know, Linda! We've never encountered this issue but it's definitely something to keep in mind. Nobody likes rancid nut butters! Thanks for sharing :) Heather- Joyous Health Team


jessica   •   August 18, 2017

Thanks for sharing your ideas!! Actually i was looking for this. But i was having many of doubts. but you clear my all doubts. Thanks for sharing wonderful ideas!!

Reply
Rachel Molenda   •   August 18, 2017

Hey Jessica! Awesome :) We're so happy to hear you found it to be helpful! Happy organic shopping! Rachel - Joyous Health Team


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