Eating Organic on a Budget

Updated on May 01, 2010
M.H. asks from Fredericksburg, VA
16 answers

I have been wanting to change my family's diet to natural and organic. I have been researching it for a few weeks now and have learned that the benefits are worth the cost. However, I am a single mother on a tight budget. So, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to eat organic on a budget.

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answers from Chicago on

The Environmental Working Group puts out a list of what's most important to buy organic. Their website is

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answers from Denver on

Look for a home delivery organics service in your area. It means you need to adapt your menu to what you get each week, but it means that generally speaking, you get the food for a fraction of the cost of the grocery store because they don't have to deal with the display spoilage phenomenon and the fact that people are stupid and won't buy an ugly piece of produce.

Doesn't cover everything, and it's still a financial challenge, but it's a place to start.

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answers from Boston on

You've gotten good advice. The only thing that I will reiterate is to cut way back on meat. Quality meat costs a fortune, and if you treat it as a "treat" rather than an everynight dinner, you will really save on your grocery bill. And shop at Trader Joes if you have one near you - so much cheaper than organic at the regular grocery store. Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

Shop at Trader Joe's.

Keep up the good work, Mom!



answers from Washington DC on

Look for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in your area. You purchase a share of crops directly from the farm. Many have discounted shares depending on your income bracket and a lot of them grow with organic practices. Some are even certified organic or certified naturally grown.



answers from Peoria on

Eating organic is especially important in this day and age of radically modified food stuff. CSA's , food coops and doing your own gardening can all help reduce cost. The other avenue that I employed was adding income with home based business...with the extra money I was able to not only by quality supplements but had more left to buy high quality food. It takes a little time and effort to get going, but definitely worth it in the long run. Get to stay at home and make your own schedule AND add income for the expenses. Would love to share what I do - you can email me for more info if interested. Keep up the proactive health choices - your best overall insurance policy!



answers from Dallas on

I just joined a food co-op and it has been awesome! All the fruits and veggies are organic. Before that I never bought organic because I couldn't afford it. I share the co-op with someone and it costs me $25 every 2 can't beat that! Let me see if I can list what I got so you can get an idea of what I got for my money.

Romaine, arugala, sorrel, rutabaga, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, strawberries, bananas, lemon, grapefruit, sweet peppers, apples, cabbage

We love all the stuff. My kids and I can't wait until pick up day. Everything is to tasty also. Check to see if there is a co-op in your area.



answers from Atlanta on

HI M.,

We have an international farmer's market in Atlanta that carries organic produce for sometimes less than regular produce in the grocery stores. Check and see if there is one anywhere in your area, even if you have to drive a bit to get there. Also, check and see if there are any co-ops that distribute organic produce as well.

Just FYI, what I have learned is when you are eating organically you are getting more nutrition than if your not. When that happens, your body is satisfied easily and you don't crave as much food. My husband is a big man and use to eat a lot more food than he does now. It's only because his body is satisfied with what he is getting. Non nutritional foods can be eaten and snacked on forever...The volume of food you buy will drop just by eating organically. This should at least even things out a little financially.

God bless,




answers from Lynchburg on

Do you have a Trader Joes or a Whole Foods store near you? Their food is healthy and not hard on your wallet.


answers from St. Louis on

I am in your same boat. We used to be a two-income family, but now I stay at home. I have always fed organic food to my family, but with our budget cuts I am finding it challenging.

There are certain things I will not budge on and will always buy organic. Those items include red meat and milk. If I cannot afford organic red meat that week, we skip it.

Also, there are certain fruits and veggies I always buy organic, such as strawberries and bell peppers. There are also tons of food items that it is NOT necessary to buy organic, such as broccoli and avocado. Buy these whenever possible to save money.

I shop Wal Mart for my produce sometimes, and they usually have bags of organic apples and organic spinach.

See these websites for help:

Also, I check Horizon and other organic websites often for coupons. I will usually get a coupon for Horizon milk about once a month.

Try shopping your local farmer's markets, if possible.



answers from Washington DC on

you may look into growing your own produce! Buy a book or two on container gardening. you can do it, even if you don't have a lot of land. Tomatoes, herbs, and many more foods (even oranges!) can be grown on the porch or inside in pots. It is the most inexpensive and healthiest way to eat. and the added bonus is that you'll be setting a good example for your children on how to raise good food and they will probalby be more interested in eating the vegetables, too!
You'd be surprised at how easy it is to raise your own food (just start 1 or 2 plants at a time of the vegetqables you like best to give it a try)
You'll save so much money and you'll have full confidence that the food you are eating is as natural and as fresh as nature intended!

another good way to eat better and more cheaply is to cut out meat just a few meals per week. It will help your body, your pocketbook, etc etc etc!

Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Do you have a local farm that offers organic produce?



answers from Casper on

Some things are more important, juicy things, for example, like peaches, tomatoes and strawberries. Look at Wal-Mart, I have heard they have organic produce for a few cents more.

Some of these things you can grow on your own. Strawberries and tomatoes are easy to grow and you can hang them where your children can't reach if that is an issue.

Best of luck!



answers from Richmond on

I see that a couple people have already suggested CSAs and home gardening, just to expand on that- farmer's markets can also be a great source for organic. Keep in mind some small farmers may not be certified organic (it's a pretty expensive certification process) but may actually be organic nonetheless. Talk to the farmers at the farmers markets & get a feel for their methods.
There's a list floating around the internet called the dirty dozen. It lists 12 foods that are the most heavily dosed with pesticides.
There are a couple dairies you'll see in most grocery stores for organic milk, I can't recall the names at the moment- but the next time you notice what line your grocer carries look the company up on line. They often have coupons.



answers from Richmond on

Sorry if any of this is a repeat - If you have a Whole Foods near you, they have coupon books at the front of the store (remember, you don't have to use them there!). WF is really expensive in my opinion but their sale items are usually a good deal. Try to plan your meals around sales. Trader Joes is an excellent store. Also, sign up for Mambo Sprouts - they will send you coupon books. You can also look up organic food companies - I have gotten coupons from Stonyfield Farms and Organic Valley. When you pair a coupon with a sale, you can get things really cheap or even free! If you are in the Richmond, VA area, look up and - both deliver organic food. I signed up for Dominion Harvest - $37 every other week for 10-12 veggies/fruits. You'd pay that at a store and this is all locally grown/organic food. Also, visit farmer's markets if you have the time. My last suggestion is to try to cut back in other areas so you can afford more on your grocery bill. I check coupon related blogs, etc. and I now get most of my household & hygiene products for free or darn close. This helps when I want to splurge on my grocery budget! Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

2ating organic can be easier than you think. First, look up items that are organic even if not specified on the container (for instance coffee). For items like that, don't pay more for the containers that read organic, because all of it is. Second, check out the local farms in our area. A lot of their food is organic and fresh food lasts longer. If you don't have time to get to one of the farms, do a split with a crate of veggies at your local farmers market. Third - Trader Joes. I love their organic selection and think their prices are more than reasonable. Fourth - 365 brand at Whole Foods. Reasonable organic prices on most items.
Our house went organic when my son was born - and I think it is definitely worth the money (and the hunt).

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