One of the things people ask me most about is how to eat healthier without breaking the bank. And even more specifically, how to eat organic on a budget. Depending how and where you spend your money, this can be tough. If you go out to eat often, that is an obvious corner you can cut when trying to improve your health and your bottom line. But what if you are already eating on a pretty tight budget? Here are 5 of my top tips I give customers when asked this very same question…
1. Prioritize dairy and meat- These are the most important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticides, antibiotics, and cancer causing growth hormones. Buy organic pastured beef and eggs when possible. It is often cheaper if you can buy meat in bulk (in a cow share) or whole chickens versus portions. These categories do tend to be substantially more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, but it is recommended to cut down on portion sizes and supplement with less expensive nuts, beans, and legumes to fill in the gap.
2. Follow the dirty dozen, clean fifteen lists- These lists highlight the produce that has the highest quantities of pesticides (and the lowest, in the case of the clean fifteen lists). The Environmental Working Group has the latest version of these lists as well as a crap-ton of other resources at your disposal if you are looking to eat healthier or cut the chemicals out of your life. They even have it as an app for your smart phone so you can have it with you when you shop!
3. Keep track of which foods are most commonly GMO and avoid them unless organic- Corn, soy, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, canola, sugar beets (used in most commercial sugar), Hawaiian papaya, and milk (growth hormones) are some of the most common.
4. Buy unsprayed produce directly from farmers- Hit up your local farmer’s market and check out your options. Organic will often be cheaper than their grocery story counterparts (and fresher, tastier and healthier!). There are also often plenty of farms who are not certified organic, but don’t spray and use non-gmo seeds- just ask!
5. Get a CSA- CSA stands for ‘community supported agriculture’ and it is a great way to get great, local produce directly from the farmers for great prices! They deliver a variety of goods to a location on a scheduled basis (varies farm by farm). There are typically fruit CSA’s, veggie CSA’s, meat CSA’s, combination CSA’s and other product CSA’s available to meet your needs. Find one close to you here.
I like to do a combination of all of these- trying to be as strategic as possible to get the most bang for my buck. If you buy in season you can often have a much easier time of it. Once you start to keep your eyes open for the products you eat most often, you will get an idea of where to buy what. Don’t forget about catalog resources and online! For certain dry goods and oils these can be great resources!
What’s your best tip for eating healthier and/or organic on a budget? Please share!!!