17 Tips to Shop for Organic Foods on a Budget

Good news! You can eat healthier, save money, and lose weight, all at the same time!

Transitioning to a healthy, nearly all-organic, whole foods diet is a major factor in how I lost my last hard to lose 10 pounds 10 years ago. In fact, green living is the way I’ve been able to keep the weight off ever since!

Follow these food shopping tips to a less expensive, healthier lifestyle. The only thing that will fatten up is your wallet!

  1. Commit to buying your favorites, organically.To get started, choose one of your favorite food items-something you buy on a regular basis – and commit to buying the organic version of it from now on. This one simple step will greatly reduce you and your family’s exposure to pesticides, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
  2. Explore.Check out the organic food sections of your market to get to know which products you’ll be buying on a regular basis.
  3. Use a grocery list!This may seem obvious, but studies show that people who use grocery lists and stick to them save money on their grocery bill. Plus, buying less junky fast foods creates room in your budget for tasty, whole organic foods! Find some tasty organic food recipes at OrganicAuthority.com
  4. Prioritize your shopping list – and know where ‘organic’ counts.Meats, dairy and sweet fruits are the most important products to ‘choose organic.’ When making your shopping list, keep this in mind.
  5. Look for organic generic or private labels from your supermarket chain.Does your grocery store have its own organic generic label or natural brand? They are typically cheaper than big-name counterparts and still certified organic. I’ve also found that these generic organic brands can even be cheaper then the conventional or non-organic counterpart!
  6. Shop bulk.Many stores that stock organic foods also have bulk grains and cereals. This can keep your spending down and save on landfill-bound packaging. Remember to bring your own bags to take home bulk food products so you don’t have to reach for another plastic bag.
  7. Shop at your local farmers’ marketBuying at farmers’ markets is actually one of the best kept secrets to buying affordable, organic food. Top chefs in both Europe and America’s have been doing it for years!A USDA study in 2002 found that about 40 percent of farmers’ market farmers don’t charge a premium. Cities now list their local farmers’ markets online, so simply search for the one closest to you. Local Harvest makes it easy .
  8. Don’t rule out non-organic when it comes to local farmers. Some farmers simply cannot afford the cost of organic certification – which doesn’t mean that their fruits and vegetables aren’t pesticide-, fumigant- or chemical-free: just ask! I find local farmers to be very honest. Get to know your source. This simple tip can be applied to all areas of your new-found green life.
  9. Buy organic coffee and teaLike other organic crops, organic coffee beans and tea are grown and processed without harsh chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides . Make it “shade grown” while you’re at it to ensure that age-old, earth-friendly agricultural techniques are preserved.Check out OrganicAuthority for my favorite organic teas in our online store.
  10. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s a great way to “go local.” Visit Local Harvest find out first hand, why “locavore” was dubbed Word of the Year, 2007, by the Oxford dictionary!
  11. Don’t see it at your favorite grocery? Ask!Stress that you want more organic produce – or whatever green item you want. The manager will be happy to hear from you since grocery stores are eager to meet the demand of their customers to ensure loyalty.
  12. Grow your own, organically! This is a great way to save cash: I grow organic tomatoes, lemons, limes, bell peppers, lettuce, herbs and other produce that would otherwise be adding up at check out! Choose the most expensive organic produce – and the ones you like to eat the most – to plant and grow.Live in a small space? Try container gardening!
  13. Go Online.Your favorite organic products are just a click away. Use the Internet to feed a healthier you!
  14. Limited on time? Check your local listings for grocery delivery services: many deliver organic groceries. Organic Express, out of L.A., and DiamondOrganics.com has helped yours truly keep organic eating alive and well – in spite of my busy schedule!
  15. Save for your future.Spending a little more now on organic will mean saving more on healthcare later. Don’t forget the deep impact living green has on your long-term health. It’s preventive medicine – that just happens to taste great!
  16. Commit to eating out less. If you eat out just one day a week less, you’ll not only put money back in the bank but you’ll also find more room in your budget to buy quality foods that are tasty and nutritious, while supporting a healthier you. No matter how convenient you think it is, if you go through the drive-through window – even just one time a week – it’s one time too many. Both your budget and your waistline will thank you for putting an end to this bad habit.
  17. Think about your values when you shop. Do you shop merely on price and large quantities? Or does quality and nutritional value count for something? Remember: consuming foods that are tasty and rich in nutritional value is what will keep you healthy, assist in keeping the weight off and add up to less doctor visits. And knowing it’s better for the planet is a nice perk!

Laura is a trained chef with roots in the organic food movement and brings intelligence, intoxicating energy and girl-next-door... More about Laura Klein, Chef & Wellness Expert