Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Frugal Fanatic about being a good coupon user, and I’m excited to welcome Shannon from For the Mommas to Northern Cheapskate:
The popularity of organic and specialty food is on the rise, and introducing these foods is great for your diet, but hard on your budget. You might have a hard time finding rock bottom prices on organic foods, but you can save money on your organic purchases.
Here are a few easy tips to help your budget when buying organic:
Check out your local farmers’ market. Most farmers markets feature local farmers, which means there is no extra transport or handling costs. They also don’t have the traditional overhead of a grocery store and can offer better pricing. If you don’t see a certified organic sign, check with the farmer. Ask about their process, and you may find that it’s pretty close to organic; many small farmers cannot afford the process of being USDA organic approved, but still follow organic guidelines.
Ask for a discount. If you have a local market that is only open a few days, ask for a discount on the last day of the market. Some farmers cannot keep the produce until the next market and would rather sell at a discount. You can also get to know the produce guys at your favorite grocery store to buy discounted organic produce before it spoils.
Join a CSA. A CSA is a community supported agricultural group. You pay a portion of the farmer’s expenses in a lump sum for the season, and each week you get a box full of fresh produce. It doesn’t get better than that! As an added bonus, many farmers will allow you to come to the farm and see the produce as it is growing. The growing season is usually about 20-30 weeks, depending on what part of the country you are in.
Stick to the Dirty Dozen. If you cannot afford all organic, start with the items on the Dirty Dozen list.
Switch the ingredients that matter the most. Decide which ingredients are non-negotiable for you. Spend more when it really matters but avoid buying organic just for the labeling!
Buy at surplus, discount scratch and dent grocery stores. Stores that get surplus of stock often carry organic cereal and snacks. Many stores will send their surplus organic items to these stores, where they can be bought at a fraction of the retail cost. Keep in mind that the selection changes frequently at these stores, so what you buy one week will not necessarily be available the next week.
Grow your own produce. You don’t have to grow everything, just pick a few items that grow well in your climate. Even a couple fruits or veggies can make a big difference in your budget, especially if you preserve your excess harvest!
Shop online. Your grocery store aisle may be the most expensive place to buy organic, but there are many options available. Try sites like Amazon or Vitacost for shelf-stable products.
Consider antibiotic or hormone-free meats. Organic meat can be very expensive. The organic feed for the animals is more costly, thus increasing the cost of the meat. Buy antibiotic and hormone-free meats instead.
Buy store brand generics. Many stores are now offering generic organic foods that are comparable to brand name regular food. Check your supermarkets for these brands, and watch for store coupons on these products instead.
Use coupons. There is a myth that their are no coupons for organic items. There are many organic coupons available online, in newspapers and in supermarkets, so keep your eyes peeled for those!