About two years ago, Lacy quit her full-time job as a restaurant reviewer to become a freelance-from-home mom. The decision slashed her family’s budget, and her new baby redoubled her resolve to stick to eating organics. The good news? It can totally be done! Here are her top five suggestions for how to live like a foodie even with a budget, a family, and a busy life.
5 Strategies for Eating Organic on a Budget – with Lacy Boggs…
1. Know a sale when you see one
This sounds easy in theory, but unless you have a photographic memory or a price book, you don’t really know. A price book is a record of every price you pay for every item you buy over a long period of time. Luckily for a lazy bones like me, (who also happens to be math challenged) I found a local grocery deals website that has done all the work for me. Hallelujah! I would suggest Googling around to find out if anyone is doing a local version for your area. Knowing when something is at its lowest price is different than just buying things on sale. Stock up and start storing items that you use regularly when they reach their lowest price.
2. Eat less meat
Ethically raised meat is expensive, there’s just no getting around it, and since I’ve made the decision to only eat ethical meat at home, I’m buying a lot less of it. We’re not ready to go totally vegetarian, but my family regularly eats three or more meatless or meat-lite meals a week. Thankfully, you can get plenty of high-quality organic proteins from eggs, beans, tofu, and nuts without breaking the bank.
3. Plan Ahead
A weekly meal plan and a shopping list will make a huge difference in the amount of money you spend—and the amount of time you spend at the store. A lot of people complain that they don’t have time to sit down and work out a meal plan ahead of time. But time is money, people! (Said in my best grumpy CEO voice.) It’s up to you to decide which you have more of.
4. Use it all
According to USDA estimates, Americans throw away as much as 40 percent of the food we produce. Make it a priority to only buy what you’ll use—and then use all of what you buy. Check out this post with 12 creative ways to use up food scraps for some ideas and work leftovers into your meal plan.
5. DIY, but admit your limits
No one here is going to look down on you if you decide not to bake your own bread, make your own yogurt and brew your own kombucha. Only you can decide what makes sense to DIY for your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty even if the answer is “nothing.”
That being said, there are some things that are pretty darned simple to do and will save you money. Try out a few DIY recipes for some of the products you use most, but then ask yourself honestly if it works for your family. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need some convenience items in your life.
This is just the beginning of The Ultimate Guide to Eating Organic on a Budget. If you’re serious about living like a foodie, eating healthy, organic foods and sticking to your budget, you can get a copy of Lacy’s totally FREE (heck yeah!) e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Organic on a Budget.
Is price a consideration when deciding if you will or will not be buying organic? Have you found a technique that helps you reduce the costs of buying organic?
Lacy is a mom and a food writer living life like a foodie in beautiful Colorado and writing about it all at Laughing Lemon Pie.
This is a great article!
I try to keep a price book but more often than not I forget it when I go shopping which defeats the purpose!
Organic shopping is expensive, I definitely try to buy certain items organic and if not then local. NZ is a long way from a lot of places and all that shipping of products is pretty taxing on our environment! Lucky for me we grow delicious fruit and veg :)
you are lucky about that for sure!
There’s also not needing to buy everything organic. Yes to berries, lettuce, apples, peppers, grapes – anything with thin skins or impossible to wash off the pesticides.
Google “the dirty dozen” to see what you really DO need to buy organic.
Not necessary with bananas.
And like you note, you often SAVE money/time by purchasing organic baked goods rather than making them yourself.
Sandray—you are totally right! GOing organic strategically is an important way to save money when you’re on a budget!
Good point about the thin-skinned fruits and veggies and buying those organically.
While you might not need to buy organic bananas because YOU can get rid of the peel, banana workers have historically been hurt by the spraying of pesticides while working in the plantations. Organic food purchases are not only about your health, but the health of those who work in the fields.
Thanks for pointing that out. Good to remember…
perfect! It is so hard for us to stay on budget. I have 3 boys and one who is now a teen! All of these are perfect tips. The one we have been focusing more on lately is zero food waste. It is hard (especially when you ruin a recipe like I did last night -even my husband wouldn’t eat it. sigh) but we are marching ahead and I love that you have given us all these great tips! thanks.
i love that idea of zero food waste. it’s such a shame to waste food.
My biggest issue is buying too much food at once. My New Year’s resolution was to not throw food away. I’ve made process but my over-buying last week turned in to an expensive and wasteful event.
We do that sometimes too and I always cringe at the thought of it. Usually it with veggies we don’t eat fast enough so now I juice ’em if I think we won’t be able to use them in time.
My SO haunts the local high end grocery store – but only buys fresh organic vegetables from what he calls “the scratch-and-dent section”. These are fruits and veggies with cosmetic issues – slightly bruised, brown, or withered – which make them unappealing at the ridiculous original prices. Most recent score was 6 pears for $98, which made a delicious crisp! Also, tomatoes and mushrooms are frequent finds,
HA! – that should be 98 cents! And a period after the last word.
heehee;) i was gonna say, dayymannn those are some expensive pears!
Love your advice. You are so right about using all of your food and not letting it go bad. We started two years ago eating organic/non-gmo and are now at about 90% organic and 100% gmo free. It has not been easy and I’ve had to get very creative but I’m feeding us organic on the same budget I use to feed us junk on. Not wasting our food is my biggest money saver.
My advice, based on experience: take it one step at a time, and gradually you will be eating a majority of healthy and organic foods. Do the math on how much money you’re NOT spending on unhealthy, processed, and/or addictive foods and drinks (like Starbucks!) This makes it easier to spend the money on awesomely healthy food.
Great points Molly!
Thank you so much for sharing these tips.
Great article – thank you! Sometimes if I think I’m not going to be able to eat a fruit or vege before it “expires”, I chop it up and freeze it. I’ll use it later in smoothies or soups. I have also composted some of my wasted food, but that only a little better then throwing it out….I still wasted money and food. :/
Yeah, I end up trying to juice veggies really quick if I think they might expire too soon. I hate feeling like food is going to waste, especially since groceries are one of our largest monthly expenses.
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Already do all of these and still need to cut down more…something she doesn’t mention that works great for us is buying in bulk…I order produce and dry grains like wheat berries, oats, flax, cornmeal, etc. from a company that delivers monthly called azure standard based out if Oregon. All organic. Great prices, but research. Some prices are the same as at store ur better somewhere else.
Hi Alana! You’re absolutely right. I’ve got a BUNCH more tips (like, almost 20 more) in my free ebook on my website. :)
I’m starting a meat-free diet this week. I’ve never gone more than a day or two without it. I don’t think I’ll be saving too much, because I will need to replace it with a ton of fruits/veggies.
Well, maybe you’ll save more money down the road with health costs…? Says the vegetarian;)
I started eating organic when I moved to CA. It was so much easier buying organic fruits and vegetables in the countless farmers markets. Meats were expensive. Eventually, I stopped eating red meat and pork and have seen my food budget decrease. I do take advantage of bargains when I see fish or chicken on sale. I’m back in NJ and I find it difficult to find organic fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price.
You are absolutely correct – stop buying more than you can consume. It’s a hard lessen to learn especially when we are taught horde.
Thank you for all of your tips! What’s the Denver grocery sale website that you’ve found?
Hi Alison—it’s http://denverbargains.com GREAT site! :)
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I’ve evolved since 1971 when we began k-9 nutritional & exercise physiology studies with the PA Univ. & later, Cornell. When I discovered how easy it was to screw up an animal by feeding it the wrong foods I changed the way I fed my kids. I’ve been growing vegetables, canning, freezing, making my own bread, pasta, eating venison, wild salmon, & organic chicken. We are all faced with so much propaganda through corporations that it is difficult to educate consumers, many who just like the status quo. I could write a book of my experiences, with my kids, the school where I taught, friends, you name it. Often just dismissed as a hippy. Good luck & keep up the good work.
These points are spot on! In fact, I’m just getting ready to write my first post on our 2014 quest to eat well on a tight budget. I’d elaborate on a couple: buying produce on sale (or via a CSA as I’ve done) one really has to get familiar with the best ways to store the veggies to last. e.g. potatoes and root veggies go in the basement, in a paper bag w holes in the bottom. Also, I find the challenge of trying to concoct a good meal with what remains before shopping again is good for both the budget and creativity.
I mentioned this article on a recent blog post where I break down 8 planning steps for eating well and under budget. An elaboration on your point #3, essentially!
Nice Article it’s really helpful
Thank you for your comment, Rajesh! Are you in our Spending Fasters Facebook group?! We would love to have you there!! Here’s the link: SpendingFastersGroup.com
Hi Anna, thanks for sharing these useful ideas to save on organic foods. I believe these ideas will inspire more and more people to eat and live healthy.