Eating organic, whole foods is more expensive than eating non-organic and processed foods.  There, I said it!  There’s no debate; organic food can be expensive!  It’s our family’s biggest expense every year and I cry a little on the inside when I see our End of the Year Analysis from our credit card.  It’s not fair and I think it just plain stinks that organic farmers struggle and we pay a premium.  However, I am a firm believer that money talks and if we are going to influence change, then our dollars are the way to get their attention.  Plus, what is most important to us, health or money?  Could we make our own coffee at home or bring our lunch to work in order to buy organic?  There are a lot of ways to save money, but very few ways to save our health after its gone.  Below are seven ways to save money on those organic, whole foods that keep us healthy.   Please help build this list with kind contributions.  Thank you for sharing this space. 

 1.  Make Your Own Food
If you want organic apple pie, then save money by buying organic apples and making your own pie.  We save A LOT of money by investing the time and energy in making food rather than buying it prepared, packaged, marketed, and shipped to our local super market.  Plus, calculate the carbon footprint of the factory, refrigeration, and transportation of that pre-made, non-local organic pie.  Moral of the story?  Buying non-processed food and preparing it yourself will stretch your dollars significantly and make this World healthier for all of us.  Can’t bake, keep reading and maybe there’s other ways to pinch pennies.  Or better yet, ask your friend who loves to bake to make you both one while you supply the apples.  

2.  Know What to Buy
While choosing between buying organic or conventional, use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen as a guideline to steer away from the heavier pesticide produce.  Ask yourself who will be eating it; will it be served to your children, spouse, or friends?  That answer is usually enough to pass for the week or look in the freezer isle for an alternatives to conventional.    

3.  Know When to Buy
Organic produce that is In Season is cheaper than non-seasonal produce.  Since the produce needs to be stored to ripen, transported from a different climate, or grown with immense resources out of season (think carbon footprint again), it will cost more.  I don’t know about you, but there’s something less flavorful about non-seasonal produce to me.  It’s like the plant knows its natural cycle is disrupted.  On a less cosmic note, save some cash and stay with the season.  

4.  Know Where to Buy
Farmer’s markets, local growers, buying clubs, and co-operative organic groups are a sure way to lower your organic grocery bill.  Check out Local Harvest for a list of grocers and markets in your area.  This area is where we save our biggest bucks!  As a vegan/vegetarian household, organic produce makes up at least 80% of our diet, so we can really take a hit at the grocery store.  Currently, we belong to an organic buying club, Annie’s Buying Club in Florida, and we have reduced our produce spend by half!  HALF!  It’s super easy to set up, takes less time than grocery shopping, and has kicked up our produce variety.  Don’t know what a buying club is?  It’s an awesome group of organizers who enable purchasing “shares” of fresh, organic, and often local produce.  Each week, the club lists able the expected harvest and allow their buyers to adjust their how much they want to “buy in.”  We started off small and as we started to see the savings, we increased our order each week.  If you have the option to try one as a trial, definitely do it!  The only down side to the buying club is the putting away and cleaning up on Thursday nights when we pick up our shares.  We’ve got it down to a science now, but it was a bit of an adjustment in the beginning to get all these fruits and veggies and have to figure out which to eat first, how to prepare it, and what to cut/freeze.  On a bright note, we juice more and eat out less on the weekends because we don’t want all that yummy, ripe produce to go to waste. And when we get something we don’t care for, we share it with friends.  Good karma everywhere! 

4.  Freezer Isle
If the fruit/veggie needed is out of season or too expensive as a fresh organic, try the frozen foods and buy organic there.  Although a frozen strawberry won’t hold up served on its own, its perfectly fine in a recipe.   I prefer frozen berries while making strawberry syrup and fruit chutney because they boil down and make a syrup on heir own. 

5. Buy In Bulk
Stock up on organic produce when it’s on sale (which usually equates to local and seasonal).  By buying and freezing your own produce, you’ll be saving on packaging and marketing.  Let’s be serious, how long does it really take to chop vegetables?  You could multitask while watching your favorite tv show and prep while commercials are running.  Easy peasy. 

6.    Garden
Ok, ok, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell you that I don’t garden.  It’s not for lack of trying; but I honestly don’t have a green thumb YET.  However, if you can grow things, what an excellent opportunity for you and your family.  It’s true bonding time, outside, without technology, and you can serve your home grown veggies at your table.  Now, that’s something to be proud of!

7.  Make Choices
Organic and natural meat and dairy can cost a lot more than their non-organic or plant-based counterparts.  I will not preach to you about the benefits of a plant-based diet (in this post).  However, bulking recipes up with organic beans is a great way to stretch your meat budget so that you can afford organic.  No one will notice a few more beans in your chili and less ground meat, and you’ll be richer for it.

How do you save money on your organic and natural groceries?  Please share your happiness here so we can all benefit. – Tanya