Look around in a market these days, there is such an abundance of products. Everything we need is at our fingertips. The days of searching or waiting for something are almost a thing of the past. Look at the quality of products available- fresher, bigger, and longer lasting than ever before. What makes these products so much more than before? Chemicals, fertilizers, hormones, genetic altering, hybridization, technology, and more efficient farming give us what we see today. While it is surprising and interesting to see the bell pepper that’s bigger than a grapefruit or a scallop that rivals the size of a golf ball, we have to wonder if what made them so big will affect us when we eat them. So, what to do if you don’t feel comfortable eating these products that have been grown with these new techniques? Eat organically. Organic? Isn’t that expensive? How can I afford to eat organically on a budget?
Here are some ideas to help with that.
First of all, check your options. If you live in a place with multiple grocery stores, see what each one carries. They will carry different brands and also produce from different areas. Prices will vary from store to store. If you are in a smaller town, your options will be more limited, but you are still likely to find some organic products. If you don’t see what you want, just ask the manager to order what you like.
Secondly, buy on sale. Organic products go on sale just like regular products. I have a few grocery stores near my house here in Atlanta, but the Kroger grocery always has one brand of organic milk on sale. Out of the three brands, it’s the one I buy. Check the sale paper when you walk in the store. Everything on sale is listed there.
If something is on sale, buy it in bulk or buy multiples. Are you going to making chili tonight for dinner? Those canned tomatoes are on sale, thank goodness. So double up on your purchase and money will be saved for next time you use them. The more you buy, typically the lower the price.
So, you found some produce on sale and you bought a lot of it. What will you do with the extra before it spoils? Lots- Preserve it. Freeze it, can it, dry it. Just save it so it doesn’t go to waste. Freeze extra blueberries and toss a few into some waffles later on. Too many onions in the bag? Make a batch of onion marmalade and spread it on burgers down the line. If you didn’t finish that bag of apples, you can make a pie or dry some rings for a great snack. (Put the scraps out for the birds- they love fruit!) This is a gateway to a whole different article. I will revisit preserving later on.
Do you have a farmers market nearby? That will definitely save you some money. Look for local product sales that occur once a week. There is a trade ground where I grew up that opens up twice a week. There is always an abundance of locals selling their produce and wares. The prices are much less there than in a grocery and the products are grown locally. Also, in the early fall when all the crops are coming in, there is a group that sets up right in the middle of town to sell their produce. Here in Atlanta, I sometimes go to the Morningside farmers market. http://www.morningsidemarket.com/ They have produce, flowers, homemade items and goods. It is small, but really has a lot of variety. Cut out the middle man=less cost to consumer. You save money and support locals. It’s a win-win.
Do you have friends or neighbors that want to eat organically and save money just as you do? Why not share the wealth with each other? If there is a large quantity of something-meat maybe? Why not split or share it? What about a special ingredient that is pricey? Maybe they can use some, too. Split the cost, trade, share- it feels good and you help each other out. You can’t go wrong.
Finally, one of the best ways to know what you are eating and not spend a great deal is to grow it yourself. Having lived in the country and in the city, I realize that not everyone has the space to do this. However, you can grow plenty of things in small spaces-herbs, tomatoes in pots, the list goes on. Just know there are options. If you are growing your own food, you know exactly what is in it and what is making it grow. The cost is minimal and the rewards are great.
Eating organically on a budget takes a little more work, but can be done. Shop around, share what you have, and preserve. This will help stretch your dollar and ultimately be healthier.
The following is a link to a wonderful farm in northeast Alabama. These are very good friends of my family and their farm produces excellent quality meat. In addition, it is a beautiful place to see. sweetseasonsfarm.com