Organic Food...on a budget.
Here are some ideas I found to be very helpful...
- Eat less meat. Organic meat is EXPENSIVE...no two ways about it. If you eat less, you enjoy it more and spend less.
- Reduce your consumption of packaged food. Packaged organics can get a little pricey. They also use a lot of sodium, which is not good for you. If you make food ahead (see my recipe for kale chips) you will have far more control over what you take into your body.
- My first stop is (I am on the east coast of the USA) a store called OCEAN STATE JOB LOT, which purchases surplus food and other items ("lots") and resells them for a huge discount. Often you can find organic packaged foods at stores of this type. Some of my recent finds are Bob's Red Mill organic bread flour, organic olive oil, Newman's Own organic snacks (chips, and my favorite Newman-O's), and a whole lot of canned beans and soups.
- Farmer's Markets--NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) and other organic organizations often list farmer's markets on their state chapter websites. Best place to find super fresh, farm picked produce.
- Find an alternative or natural foods co-operative in your area. In Wakefield, RI, I belonged to the Alternative Food Cooperative and shopped there for around 25 years! Here in CT, I belong to the Willimantic Food Co-op, which has an incredible selection of organic produce...yum! Want to know where to find a co-op near you? Try this link: http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm. It will take you to a directory of co-ops all over the United States.
- Trader Joe's--All I can say is...if you have one near you, it is a fantastic place to find great prices on organic and sustainably produced food! I miss the RI Trader Joe's...it was one of my favorite places to shop.
- The grocery store. Look for sales and compare prices. Some organic companies are beginning to compete. This is good news in a large grocery store!
- Your local health food store...occasionally, if you are a regular customer, small health food stores will allow you to order goods when they place their regular order--so if you like a particular shampoo or hair color, ask if they can order it for you. This way they will not need to stock it.
- Produce--prioritize your organics so that produce is at the top of the list. Raw, unprocessed foods are the most likely to retain pesticides and nonorganic compounds--so make produce your TOP organic priority.
- Other food items should be your second priority, because you are ingesting them. If you can purchase SOME organic food, it is better than none--do not think that just because you are not eating ALL organics, you are not helping your body!
- Shampoos, soaps, and cleaning products do not necessarily need to be organic, but watch for non-toxic cleaners like Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, and Method (see Method vs. Mrs. Meyers...some of my favorite non-toxic cleaners!) For shampoo and conditioner, try a few different brands until you find the one you like--I always avoid products with sulfates. For soap, of course I use my homemade goat's milk soap (see blog part 1, 2, and 3 for instructions), but you can often purchase a good cold process or liquid soap which is non-toxic.
- Herbs--always buy your herbs in the bulk section of a co-op, if possible. You will save a ton! Here's why: You only purchase a tiny amount, in a small plastic bag...and that is all you pay for. You purchase by weight. Nothing is wasted, and you don't end up pulling a 20-year-old bottle of cumin out of the cupboard. Totally worth it!
- ALWAYS look at the "specials" and "clearance" items on endcaps of health food stores and co-ops...they are often a treasure trove of bargains! I have purchased elderberry syrup for a coworker to help with her cold, as well as other vitamins and supplements, tea, and kitchen gadgets. This is my favorite section of the store!
- Only purchase what you know you will eat. Common sense, I know, but seriously...you don't want your food to go to waste!