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Stretch organic food budget

September 7th, 2011

“I can’t afford organic,” is the outcry of my clients. Living on a limited food budget can be tough. While we all know benefits include great taste, limiting pesticides in our body, improved agricultural methods and environmental safety, coughing up the dough can limit our enthusiasm as well as our pocket books.

First, free up money you spend at premium coffee shops (cough, cough, uh, give up 4-buck coffee?). Get a coffee pot with a timer (about $40-60), brew your own coffee, and take it in a reusable mug. That’s $4/day times 5 day or $20/week or $80/month. That’ll get you a lot of organic produce.

Remember the Dirty Dozen? If you need to limit organic food spending, don’t slack here. Buy these 12 as organic, all others conventional.

Buy in season – produce is cheapest when it’s most abundant. Shop at farmer’s markets. Many farmers are ‘organic’ without the USDA label because of the high cost of certification. Ask them. And if you can save money over the winter, buy into their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share and know you’ll have summer’s bounty from June thru October.

Be picky. Look at your favorite foods, those you eat most often and in bigger quantities, and choose organic. For instance, as a starting place, households that begin with cereal, milk and fruit can switch to organic milk and fruit and conventional cereal.

Be selective. Big chicken eater? No ‘fowl’ play here with organics – tastes better, no antibiotics, pesticides or arsenic, plus these chickens have rule of the roost, no hen houses for them. Just going organic with chicken puts you in top pecking order with your family!

Dig deep into the freezer. When organics go on sale, stock up in bulk and freeze it. Pre-portion beef and chicken into the amount needed for a meal. When I was a meat eater, I’d buy chicken leg quarters in three 10-lb bags and freeze them into just the right amount for a family of 5. Easy to feed on the fly.

So see, it can be done. Start small, with those foods that conveniently fit into your menu plans, in season, on sale, in bulk. Gently, over time, your life will be organic!

 

3 Responses to “Stretch organic food budget”

  1. Andy says:

    This is great stuff. I will be sharing it with my people later this week!

  2. Andy says:

    I especially like this tip: “Buy in season – produce is cheapest when it’s most abundant. Shop at farmer’s markets. Many farmers are ‘organic’ without the USDA label because of the high cost of certification. Ask them.”

    Great info Diana, thanks!

  3. Diana says:

    Glad it’s useful to you, Andy. It’s easier than most people think to eat healthy. I found a health food co-op outside Little Rock AR back in the day. Bought some items in bulk, like rice, flour, cereals, dried beans and froze them (in New England, freezer space is hard to come by so a small 13-cubic foot one will do down in the basement). I share a CSA with friends so we both have amazingly fresh and organic produce all summer. Bottom line: limit processed foods and get creative in the kitchen. Fresh foods cooked easily = long and healthy life.

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