One of the biggest complaints among ordinary families trying to eat healthy is that clean, organic food is simply too expensive, and thus out of reach for the average budget. But eating right does not have to break the bank, especially when you know what to look for and how to shop for it. Here are some helpful tips for maximizing your food budget while still being able to afford the best foods for your family:
1) Buy local. Though not always certified organic by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), many of the foods sold at your local farmers market are likely grown using organic methods. In fact, many local farmers and backyard gardeners employ growing methods that exceed certified organic standards, and yet are able to sell their goods for less as a result of not having to pay for official USDA organic certification.
2) Take advantage of generic organic. If the grocery store is more your style, be on the lookout for store brand organic products, which are popping up all across the country. Popular grocery chains like Trader Joe’s, Costco, Publix, and many others now offer generic organic product lines that are significantly cheaper than the more expensive brands sold at higher-end grocery retailers.
3) Buy in bulk. You can also look for organic items sold in bulk, as purchasing in higher volumes will almost always translate into lower costs. Cereals, noodles, beans, sauces, oils, and various other packaged products will typically last quite a while on the shelf, which makes stocking up on such items, particularly when they are on sale, a great way to maximize your spending power.
4) Grow your own food. If you are not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you may also consider planting a few things of your own. Tomatoes, herbs, and squash, for instance, are relatively easy to cultivate at home. The average suburban backyard is capable of sustaining all of these in small plots, as well as a few fruit trees and other goodies, given the appropriate climate. Try planting just one or two crops and move forward from there – you might be surprised at how much food you can yield at home rather than buy from the store!
6) Become a coupon shopper. Some people still mistakenly believe that coupons are available only for cheap, processed foods on the conventional market. But many popular natural and organic brands also offer coupons, which can often be found in coupon books at the registers of health food stores. Many manufacturers also offer coupons on their company websites, so be sure to keep an eye out for these deals.
7) Join a cooperative. Building upon the idea of buying in bulk, many families trying to eat healthy will join a local cooperative. Also known as a co-op, these organized buying systems combine the purchasing power of multiple families to get the best deals on things like unprocessed dairy, local meats, fresh produce, and other healthy items. You can learn more about food cooperative and how to find one near you by visiting:
And just in case you were wondering why organic food tends to cost more than conventional, consider the following:
“Why is [organic food] so expensive? Because right now, at the federal level, we’ve got an uneven playing field,” explains Robyn O’Brien for Prevention.com. “Farmers that choose to grow food, genetically engineered to be saturated in chemicals, receive financial aid called ‘subsidies.’ They also get marketing support and crop insurance, while farmers growing things organically don’t, making their products more costly to produce.”
In other words, federal laws must change to redirect tax dollars away from supporting factory food and towards locally-grown organic food. You can help make this a reality by calling or writing your Congressmen and demanding agricultural reform.