Pound for pound, children eat and drink more than adults. Healthy eating is essential in order to safely nourish their growing bodies. Incorporating organic food into your family’s diet is an important part of eating healthy, even if you can only purchase organic foods selectively. Here are seven simple ways to save on organic foods to make them more accessible for all of us.
1. Cook it yourself.
The best way to save money on organic food is to cook from scratch. Buying whole ingredients can be much cheaper than buying packaged foods, plus you can use the ingredients for multiple dishes. If you are strapped for time, check out the extensive selection of new slow cooker cookbooks published in the past two years; they definitely aren’t the one-pot wonder recipes from the 1970s. Flavorful and complex soups can be enjoyed in the evening after only minutes of prep in the morning.
2. Buy foods in season.
Don’t look for bargains on organic strawberries in November. Buying foods in season saves money. For example, when strawberries are at their peak in the late spring/early summer, find an organic “pick your own” farm or load up from the grocery store and freeze extras for those long months when they aren’t in season.
3. Buy private label store brands.
A number of the large chains, including specialty gourmet and health food stores, have their own private label line of organic products. Before reaching for that name-brand product, just quickly peruse the organic selection. You might be surprised to find the organic store brand version to be cheaper than the non-organic version.
4. Use coupons.
Visit your favorite organic brand online before you head to the grocery store and chances are you will find direct links to coupons. A major organic company recently told us that the top reasons people visit their website are for coupons and recipes.
5. Buy from the bulk section.
Purchasing bulk beans, grains, herbs and snacks can be a great way to buy only what you need and save money. Do a price comparison and see the difference. You can save up to 90% when you need just a pinch of a certain spice or herb and you don’t want an entire jar. Plus, it’s always good to buy small quantities of herbs and spices to keep them fresh and flavorful.
6. Go meatless once a week.
Eliminating meat, seafood and dairy for one or two dinners per week will save you money and might even improve your health. Take the money you would spend on those pricier cholesterol-containing proteins and apply it buying organic vegetables or grains. Some vegetarian meal ideas are: minestrone soup, Portobello tacos and sweet and spicy stir-fry.
7. Join a CSA.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the most economical ways to buy organic produce. Typically you pay a local farm up front for a season of produce, milk, or meat. Shares, as they are called, typically start at around $300 for a small family for 24-28 weeks of produce. Not bad if you break down the cost on a weekly basis! Some CSAs allow you to volunteer on their farm, which can reduce the price of the share. CSA numbers have grown from only 50 in 1990 to over 4,000 in 2011! Local Harvest is a terrific source to find CSAs in your area