Four Ways to Shop Organic on a Budget

There are plenty of reasons why families choose to buy organic food — everything from supporting local farms to eating healthy and minimizing pesticide risk. But here’s the question: How do you shop organic on a budget?

For starters, you can always go by the “dirty dozen” — the list of fruits and veggies that seem to absorb the most harmful chemicals and are generally worth paying more to buy organic. If it’s not on the list, you can feel a little better about not shelling out the extra cash for organic.

Even so, you may be looking for other ways to shop and eat organic on a budget. Here are four tips to help you get the naturally farmed foods you want without breaking the bank.

1. Buy in Season

Perhaps the easiest way to save money on organic produce is to buy in season. You’ll have farmer’s markets, farm stands, orchards and other local options that provide fresh food, often at the lowest prices of the year.

The organic apples I buy at my local orchard cost about $1 per pound. At the grocery store, conventional apples cost about $1.57 per pound, and organic apples will run you $2.34 per pound, on average. Why would pay more than twice as much when you can shop local and in-season for less?

2. Grow Your Own

Maybe your project for this spring is to plant your own organic garden. There’s nothing like heading into the backyard to pick vegetables to serve for dinner. It’s something my husband and I enjoy doing when we grow cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers in our garden. And trust me — we’re no green thumbs. We just found a sunny spot, planted the seeds in the ground and hoped for the best.

3. Use Coupons

There are plenty of packaged goods that qualify as organic and offer coupons. In the past, I’ve found coupons to save money on Newman’s Own frozen pizza and Muir Glen organic tomato sauce. So sometimes, it really does make sense to use coupons.

4. Costco: A Budget-Organic Lifesaver

According to the Washington Post, Costco wholesale club is now the largest seller of organic products in the United States. It sells about $4 billion in organic produce and packaged food each year. If you’ve ever shopped in Costco, you know you can get great prices on organic produce, milk, jam and more. The savings you’ll enjoy shopping organic at Costco could be well worth the price of membership.

Finally, keep in mind how you can minimize your waste by shopping in a sustainable way. Choose products with the least amount of packaging. Park once, and walk to do your shopping and errands. And don’t forget to bring your reusable bags with you. Stores like Whole Foods will give you a 10-cent discount for each bag you bring. So get going, get shopping, and eat smart.

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