The Organic Pantry: Splurge on This, Save on That

If you’re like us, you’ve made the choice to buy organic wherever possible. Unfortunately, that means you’re likely spending much more than the average American on groceries, because we don’t have to tell you — buying organic can sure get expensive! If it’s a stretch for you, we’ve come up with a few pantry items, a couple that are truly worth the splurge, and a couple where there are smart ways to save.

Olive Oil

Splurge. Good olive oil is a great asset to any kitchen. An organic extra-virgin olive oil will bring amazing flavor to your salads, baked goods and other dishes; real extra-virgin olive oil is nearly bright green in color, is very aromatic and has a fruity, incomparable flavor. Real extra-virgin olive oil is definitely expensive, but you can splurge on this item as long as you’re using it properly. Extra-virgin olive oil should never be heated, as it destroys the subtle flavor and can even make this good-for-you superfood into something harmful to your health. Reserve olive oil for your salads, quickbreads, or other items where it’s not heated to a smoke point, and use cooking oil for your sautéing and frying.

Cooking Oil

Save. Cooking oil is the kind you use every day to brown veggies, sauté onions or bring out the toasty flavor of garlic and spices. You can save by buying a store brand of cooking oil; just be sure you’re buying the right kind. Take a look at this helpful list of oils to determine which is best for the method of cooking you have in mind.

Canned Tuna

Splurge. For a long time, tuna has not been fished sustainably, so it’s a very good idea to buy upmarket brands of tuna, so as not to contribute to the irresponsible fishing of this product. American Tuna is a great brand, supporting pole-caught tuna fished by six American fishing families. Fish-4-Ever was one of the first companies to launch this way of fishing, and they offer a wide variety of products, including tuna canned in organic oil, canned mackerel and canned Alaskan salmon.

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetable

Save. Not that you should be buying any old supermarket veggies! But buying organic in the supermarket can get expensive, and there is an easier, cheaper way. Farmers markets are generally cheaper than supermarkets, and investing in a CSA ensures that you have a selection of local, organic and seasonal fruits and veggies all year long. Not only is this a great way to buy organic, but you’re also supporting local industry and, quite often, learning to cook with fruits and veggies you may have never picked up otherwise. It’s a win-win!

image: jdtornow

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco