Do your New Year’s resolutions involve eating cleaner? It’s no big secret that organic, healthier foods tend to be more expensive than conventional and processed foods. With a little planning, it’s possible to feed your family organic food on the cheap!
How To Feed Your Family Organic Food On The Cheap
I’m a single mama on a tight budget. I also have a slew of chronic illnesses, and my daughter has asthma and allergies. Eating clean has to be a priority in order to keep us at our healthiest. The thing is, we will all spend the money one way or another. It may be on medications and copays, or an ounce of prevention, investing in the food we put into our bodies.
I’m not saying that every single crumb of food in my house is organic. Our household diet is far from “perfect”.
Some weeks I have more room in my grocery budget, and other weeks it’s tighter. Those weeks, I just focus on buying the dirty dozen organic, and the rest conventional.
I’m also not denying my affinity for Reese’s cups. Full disclosure: I’m eating clearance Reese’s Christmas trees, as I type. I definitely overindulged during the weeks leading up to Christmas, and I spent a good portion of the holidays, sick. The best part of life is that we are gifted a fresh start every morning, and a clean slate every January 1st. Embrace your fresh start, and hopefully, these tips can help you save some money along the way!
Prepare Before You Shop
Planning ahead helps keep you on track, and prevents surprises at the register. Check the ads and gather your coupons before you meal plan. Check your cupboards, pantry, and fridge, too, in case you already have an ingredient you can use. Every saved dollar adds up!
Once you have an idea of what’s on sale, work on your meal planning for the week. I try to find what I call fluid meals–dishes that have similar ingredients, so I can reuse leftovers in a fun way to cut down on waste.
I’m a vegetarian, but my daughter eats meat. Once way I save money is to alternate the protein in our meals. Some nights protein comes from meat, others beans and legumes. This saves us a ton of money (meat is expensive!), and it also rounds her diet out, and has allowed her to stay open to dishes with beans and lentils.
Buy in bulk, when you can. If there’s a great sale on something you know you will eat and can freeze or store, buy it. Just make sure you’re staying true to your budget, and not just buying because it’s on sale.
Also, when I grocery shop, I shop for 2-3 weeks at a time. This allows me to invest more time into the planning of each trip, and cuts down on the time I would spend in the grocery store each week, if I did weekly shopping. There is no way I could feed my family organic on the cheap if I didn’t do it this way.
Try to cut out some of the processed foods you buy. I know it’s not realistic to cut them all, just do what you can. Processed, prepared-to-eat foods are pricey and add up. That’s extra money to help your new grocery budget for organic produce!
Find The Right Grocery Store
The grocery store isn’t always the best place to score deals on organic foods, but it’s possible to save money with a little planning and research.
When I first moved into my own place during college, I shopped at Aldi to save money. Over the years, I moved on to shop at more expensive grocery stores in pursuit of healthier options. The only problem is that it costs a small car payment in order to purchase all of the organic, gluten-free foods my daughter and I have to eat.
Over the past year, there has been some buzz about the new Aldi in the blogosphere, and my friends have told me to check it out. When I finally popped in to check it out, I was pleasantly surprised!
Aldi’s definitely rebranded themselves in order to compete with the larger chains of health food stores. Their produce section is wider and brighter, and boasts a decent selection of organic options for prices that are shockingly low. They have amazing prices on organic dairy and organic and cage-free eggs, as well as an impressive vegan line that seems to grow each month.
Aldi’s gluten free options are way better than brands I’ve used that cost twice as much as the Aldi option. My daughter is very picky about gluten free bread, and Aldi’s “liveGfree” brand is the only one she will actually eat (and it costs half the amount of other gluten free breads).
I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Aldi in the winter (see below for my summer shopping tips), and still purchase the few pieces of organic produce Aldi doesn’t carry at other stores. My grocery bill has been cut in half since making the switch, and I couldn’t be happier!
Find Deals In Any Store
If you don’t have an Aldi in your area, you can still find deals at your local grocery store. There are also tricks to work around the expense of organic food. I buy all of my organic smoothie fruits, and a good portion of my organic veggies, frozen. I’ve found that the amount of food I waste (a major pet peeve) has been cut by doing this, because I don’t have to worry about it going bad before we can eat it. You can also find good deals on frozen produce. Search for coupons, and if you can’t find any online, call the brand and ask if they have any they can send you. Most brands are happy to oblige and possibly hook a new customer!
Keep an eye on the manager’s special stickers, too! I’ve scored some amazing deals on organic produce and meat that was about to hit its “sell by date” that I simply froze right away. This is one very helpful way to feed your family organic food on the cheap
Cut Out The Middle Man When It Comes to Organic Produce, Meat, and Dairy
Actually meeting the farmer who puts the food on your table is a rewarding experience and a cool thing for your kids! I live for our local farmers market season, when I have the opportunity to meet the people behind the food we eat. There is so much to learn on our cozy Saturday mornings at the farmers market. It’s become a spring/ summer/ fall tradition for my daughter and I. She helps me pick everything out, and then we go home and meal prep for the week, together!
As an added bonus, once the vendors get to know you, they tend to offer you better deals, too. It all comes down to people, and relationships. This sense of community adds a level of peace that you can’t always find in a store.
If you don’t have a local farmers market, you can look into a CSA share. You pay the farm ahead, at the beginning of the season (early Spring), and then you’re given a bag of fresh, seasonal veggies (and sometimes fruit) each week. You can split your share with another family you are close with, in order to make it more cost efficient. Then you can take turns driving out to the farm to pick up your goods. This is a fun treat for the kids! My daughter loves exploring the farm, and learning about how her food is grown.
Some CSA’s also have meat options, allowing you to buy a larger piece of organic, grass-fed meat in bulk to freeze and store.
Grow Your Own Organic Food!
I can’t wait until I am able to start my own garden! This is a great way to save money on organic fruits and vegetables. Gardening is an amazing bonding experience with kids, working together to put food on your own table!
No Matter How You Feed Your Family Organic On The Cheap: Prep And Store It Properly!
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After spending all that time and money, you want to make sure that you use every bit of the food you buy. I usually grocery shop and meal prep between Saturday and Sunday. I’m saying this as someone who works non-stop. We make time for what’s important.
Sometimes I do it in sprints, around my busy schedule. I always try to clean and prep the food as soon as possible after it comes into my house. I do this because the week gets busy, and if I already have meals ready and fruits and veggies prepped for snacks and light cooking during the week, I’ll be way more likely to use it. This also allows me to keep an active inventory of what I have, so I am not overbuying or wasting food, money, and time.
Grab an Instant Pot or crockpot, prep freezer meals, and invest in good quality food storage containers. I prefer clear food storage containers, so that I can easily see what I have on hand when I open the fridge.
Most Importantly, Be Kind To Yourself!
There is no one right way to feed your family. We are all different and have different budgets, tastes, and ways of living. That’s okay! There’s no sense in preening your diet to appear “perfect” if you and your family are miserable doing it. Even one new, healthy meal a week is wonderful change for the good! We are all doing the best, with what we have, to feed our families.
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What are your money-saving tips for shopping for organic food? Comment below!