Christine Park

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Afford to Eat Organic for $100/week

Have you ever said, "I wish I could eat organic, but I can't afford to." ? I know I have. But honestly... working in my business... reading stories about pink slime and pesticides... I've really started to re-think my priorities. Yes, organic is more expensive, but what's more valuable than the health of my family? If I spent less elsewhere, I'd have plenty of money leftover for organic. So I'm making small changes at a time. I started with the milk, because I've still got to little ones, 5 and 2, who need to drink it. And my next foray into organic is produce, especially ones where we consume the skin (like apples) or ones that grow in or close to the ground (like carrots and potatoes).

I love the fact that here in Fresno we have many more options to buy organic than just Whole Foods (which some friends jokingly refer to as "Whole Paycheck"). Don't get me wrong, Whole Foods is a beautiful and lovely shopping experience, but for someone who cringes at paying $8 for a carton of strawberries, ringing up at the cash register can come as a bit of sticker shock.

Luckily, we have countless Farmers' Markets around town... many which include organic farmers (make sure to ask). We have Costco and Trader Joe's, which many of you are already fans of, and I recently discovered Kristina's Natural Ranch Market on Barstow Avenue in Northeast Fresno. Every Saturday from 7am-Noon they also serve as host to the first and ONLY completely Certified Organic Farmer's Market in the area which highlights many of our local farms, and food providers. My friend Tara at the raw food vegan restaurant Revive Cafe in downtown Fresno also runs Whole Farms. You can subscribe to the fruit/veggie CSA Club and they have a variety of price points ranging from $25 to $80 per month! They also teach you how to use your produce in different recipes, so you're not stuck with a bunch of kale or cauliflower going to waste in your fridge.

I also ran across this on another mommy blogger's page, When Pigs Fly. The author, Jennifer, has some good and practical tips on how she eats organic on a grocery budget of $100/week. Read on...

Here are 10 things I do to feed our family organic foods on a $100 weekly budget:

1. Make a menu prior to shopping. Plan meals that will include meat every other day, versus having it in every single dish.

2. Only buy what you need for the week. For example, if I am stuck buying a whole five-pound bag of organic potatoes, because they don’t sell them loose, then I try to plan another meal that will use the remainder of the bag.

3. Don’t make recipes that require excess or specialty ingredients. Many specialty ingredients can be substituted for something else you already have on hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

4. Substitute any dinner leftovers as lunch during the week.

5. Stay away from specialty stores! Although they have a great selection of unique items, you typically pay more in your overall bill. For instance, I get my organic meat cheapest at Costco, but since they don’t carry a large selection of organic produce, I shop for those items at a local grocery store. I recommend visiting a few different stores and browsing their organic selection. Take note of their prices to get a feel for which store might save you the most money.

6. Use coupons! Although they are harder to come by, there are organic-based coupons available online. Take time to email your favorite companies too, for the opportunity to receive coupons by mail.

7. Learn what is important in organic form, and what you can still buy in conventional form. The key is to stay away from as many preservatives, fake sugars, additives, and chemicals as possible. The fewer the ingredients, the better for you.

8. Get your apron ready! I make a lot of our snacks from scratch. In doing so, most of the food budget can go towards organic produce, meat, and dairy. This is much cheaper than buying the organic prepackaged snacks that are often priced as high as $5 per box! To save time, I double the recipe of whatever it is I am making, and freeze the second batch for later.

9. Know your limitations. As I am shopping, I actually jot the price of my items down, next to the item name on my shopping list. Before heading to check out, I do a quick add up of my groceries. If I have gone over budget, then we put some of the “non-necessary” items back.

10. Keep it simple. I learned that not every meal has to have a meat, side dish, vegetable, and bread. I try to keep it simple, yet healthy, often producing one-dish meals.

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