5 Things I Learned About Eating Organic on a Budget
About two months ago, I realized I was feeling a little more crazy than usual (I own a certain amount of my “crazy”. It’s what makes me tick). I couldn’t figure out the issue, because I get an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night, I work out at least 3 days a week, and I eat foods that are good for me. I decided to try eating organic produce to see if it cut back on the crazy.
For years, I have been hearing that organically is better for you and your family, but the frugal mama in me just couldn’t see past the additional cost. I was curious how I could go about eating organic on a budget, but I took on the challenge and learned some things that I’m here to share with you! If you know me at all, I wouldn’t tell you that eating organic on a budget was possible if it wasn’t!
Our monthly food budget is $550, and I did not bump it up for this challenge.
Lesson #1: Watch Your Portion Size!
Americans often WAY over-serve themselves. The portions our bodies need is far less than usually ends up on our plates. When you ear organic on a budget, you need to control how much you give yourself. If you find yourself hungry after eating your meal, have a nice big glass of water to fill your tummy!
Lesson #2: Frozen fruits and veggies are the way to go!
Paying $8.99 for an 18 oz clamshell of blueberries at Costco, when I know my kids will BLOW through them in an afternoon, just isn’t going to happen, however, buying the three-fruit blend for $11.99 is a sound investment in your health. Plus, it’s easier to stretch the portions with frozen foods because you don’t have to worry about spoilage.
Lesson #3: It’s harder to stock up (while still keeping it in your budget) when eating organically.
The additional cost for organically grown fruits and vegetables had to come from somewhere in my grocery budget. Aside from sticker-shock at the checkout counter, I found I had to rethink how I was stocking up on my meats. I ended up staggering my meat purchases between my pay periods (twice a month). I also realized organic produce rarely goes on sale, which is actually a good thing, because it made my grocery bill more predictable.
Lesson #4: Be selective about what you buy.
It’s so easy to fill your cart with a bounty of organic leafy greens, but if you don’t have a plan for those leafy greens, you are just throwing money away. A huge lesson I learned in the process of getting out of debt was how to recognize impulse spending. Being wooed by beautiful produce falls into that category.
Lesson #5: It matters where you shop.
Sadly, organic fruits and veggies aren’t as abundantly available as conventionally grown. I quickly found out that Safeway and Lucky’s have the highest prices (thankfully, I don’t live close enough to a Whole Foods to make it my go-to store).
FoodMaxx: super tiny selection, and no fruit options at my store.
Costco: A great price for a ton of food! I buy my lettuce, carrots, and kale salad mix here regularly, but I always check out what other organics they have and pick up what I think is a decent deal. (I used to love the $3.99 clam-shell of raspberries, but they don’t have them at that price anymore).
Trader Joe’s: I buy my tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs at TJs. I also just bought a 3-pound bag of adorable little gala apples for $4.99, which is a good deal.
Sprouts: Apples are $1.99/pound, but they usually only have 5 or 6 of them, and my kids LOVE apples. It is rare that all 5-6 are “pretty” enough for my kids.
There you have my 5 lessons I learned while eating organic on a budget. For the record, I did see an improvement in my craziness, though I am not wholly sure it was my shift in foods, but the fact that our Disneyland vacation was done and the home school has finished for the year. I will stick with our new plan, and see how things go. Next up, I will work on phasing out hormone-laden meats. One step at a time…