One complaint I hear constantly from people in my life is, "Eating organic costs too much! I can't afford to eat organic food." You know what's really expensive? Being sick.
To me, health is more important than money and I'd rather not risk constantly bombarding my liver and body with toxins from conventional produce sprays and pesticides - things that aren't supposed to be in my body in the first place - not to mention genetically modified "food" that my body can't identify.
I want the goods, the real stuff, the shiz. That's why I've customized how I grocery shop to make sure I'm not overspending in the process. I feel it's necessary to spread the wealth (and puns, obviously) with you to put your mind and wallet at ease.
SHOP LOCAL & IN SEASON
Food comes from farther away when it's not locally accessible, making it more expensive. One of the following will jack store prices:
a) It's not the right time of year for it to grow where you live.
b) There's less of it available to you.
c) It's not something that naturally grows in your climate.
Think about it. The main reason food costs so darn much is because of where it comes from, what it took to get it to you, and how much it's in demand. Shop smarter by taking a moment to look around the produce section to see what's inexpensive and what's really pricey. Then, look at where it comes from. Is it starting to make more sense? Finally, make a decision.
It's common to have a standard grocery list - i.e. buying the same things every time you're at the grocery store. Planning meals around foods that are either local or in season have less of an impact on your budget. This could mean eating differently from what you're used to. Time to spice it up and add some variety to your diet! The best way to do this? Hit up your local farmers market!
AVOID PACKAGED FOODS
Packaged foods, specifically meals in a box, are more expensive than non-packaged foods. The same rule applies here - there's more that you're paying for (i.e. the packaging itself) and chances are it wasn't produced and packaged locally. Packaged meals help save time but they don't save on foreign ingredients used to keep them fresh! Bonus for avoiding shelf stabilizers. Double bonus for buying ingredients individually and making a meal from scratch. Triple bonus if you include the satisfaction factor of eating the fruits of your labour.
RATION YOUR INGREDIENTS WHILE SHOPPING
Plan for your meals to share ingredients. When buying produce and individual ingredients for dishes, make sure you'll use all of your ingredients for that recipe and if not, make sure you can use them in another recipe in the same week before they spoil. You'll have less food waste and you'll definitely waste less money.
ASSESS PRICES AT YOUR FAVOURITE GROCERY STORE
Most of us shop somewhere convenient and we typically do all our shopping in the same place, again out of convenience. What if you took a couple hours and did a grocery store assessment in your area? Find out which stores and markets are closest to your home and workplace, make a visit to a few of them that have different offerings to compare prices of common ingredients, and split your shopping trip to save money.
It's totally doable if you are able to shop within your normal routine instead of making an extra trip outside of it. That means shopping on the way home, instead of going home and then out again. It's not hard, it just means a change of habit.
I bet you're wondering what the real benefits are, am I right? Saving money is primary, but saving money has the magical ability to lead to other happy outcomes, and I've got plenty. I've listed a few below. There's no reason not to get excited about eating organic now!:
YOU'LL THROW AWAY LESS FOOD
It's SOOOOO true! I went from throwing away my veggie ends and pits to composting them to reusing them. I also cut away a lot less of the actual fruits and veggies because they're "ugly" and eat everything I can before considering what to do with the remains. I also stopped buying things that create more waste, simply because I don't want to contribute to the problem.
Two reasons why your food waste will decrease:
1) Organic food is more tasty and precious, so you'll naturally not want to waste any of it.
2) Organic food is more bang for a bit more buck, so you'll cherish the food you buy and be scared to waste it.
YOU'LL BE MORE SELECTIVE WITH YOUR PURCHASES
You'll find yourself looking for in-season produce, locally produced products, and less additional ingredients. Maybe even organic, too. You'll also buy less and shop more often, only buying things you know you'll be consuming and not things you know will eventually be wasted. You'll rip apart banana bunches in-store and search the sweet potato pile for the runts of the litter so the other half doesn't spoil on your counter before you get a chance to eat it. You'll be that person and I'll be proud of you.
YOU'LL FORM A STRONGER CONNECTION WITH FOOD
I'll never forget the first time I cut into an organic cucumber. My nostrils jumped for joy! Yeah, I know that's not possible, but you get my drift. The smell was INCREDIBLE! From then on I took the time to look at, smell and love my food. And it made me want to know more about where it came from and form a stronger appreciation for those who grew it.
I mean, come on...we take a huge "for granted" here when it comes to just picking up food at the grocery store. We forget to thank the person who made it possible, and instead we just consume, consume consume. My connection to food has grown because I've found a connection to it and to farming it. Who knows, maybe you'll want to grow some food at home one day, too. It's not hard and it's very rewarding. Your appreciation meter will skyrocket, too.
Yes, saving money while buying organic produce is absolutely possible. But you're going to need to step out of your comfort zone a little. Come on...you can do it. I believe in you!