Organic Foods for Less
Saving on Organic Food
Organic Food for Less
Buy organic foods? What are you crazy? I'm trying to save money! I know that it does seem like organic foods cost twice as much as buying "regular" food, but it doesn't if you know how to shop. I avoided my local co-op for years because I was terrified that my already high food bill would skyrocket if I dared buy the organic versions. But, I was wrong.
It took a little change on my part, but I knew my family had to eat better and so I took what I call the "Three-Month Challenge." I vowed to find a way to incorporate organic and locally-grown foods into at least 90 percent of our diet within that time frame. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
First, I had to dispel the notion that eating healthy food was more expensive or required a lot of cooking. And second, I had to stop letting the children dictate what goes into the pantry. Yes, my children thought I was a goddess if I let them have gummy, sugary, cartoon-character "fruit snacks," but that no longer matters. They alternately think I'm a goddess and dislike me on any given day anyway, so I've decided that I'm in charge of what goes into their bodies and they'll just have to live with it. And you know what? They do. They might roll their eyes (my 13-year-old daughter is especially good at this) that there are no pre-fab "granola" bars in the pantry, but she gives me just as big a hug when I put mangoes in the fruit basket. Relying on the approval of children is a silly way to shop.
Children will never choose an apple or a yogurt after school if there are chocolate chip cookies, Ring Dings, or Easy Mac in the house. But they will choose an apple, orange or organic granola bar if that's all there is.
I also stopped buying "snack cakes" and other desserts. Now, if we are going to have a sugary treat after dinner, I either make it from scratch or buy just enough for that evening. It has reduced the amount of money spent on such items greatly in our house and keeps the kids from snagging the two left in the box after school or stashing them in their backpacks for during the school day.
My new policy is to visit the food co-op or a local farmer's market once or sometimes twice a week and buy two or three bags worth of stuff at a time. This keeps my out-of-pocket expenditures to somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 at a time. For paper products and other sundry items like those organic granola bars, I started doing something really crazy. I started buying them online. Now, the UPS guy delivers a couple of boxes to my door twice a month. This does three things. First, it keeps me from spending money on gas to get to the store. Next, it keeps me to a list, instead of tempting me into things I really don't need. Finally, it allows me to shop slowly, examining labels so I know exactly what I'm getting, and my feet don't hurt when I do it!
I also buy organic foods in bulk with a local cooperative, so I can get big sacks of whole grain flours and oats. I like to bake, so this is a great deal for me.
Michelle Kennedy has written 11 books and has been featured in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon.com, Family Circle, Redbook and many other publications. She lives in Vermont with her husband and five (soon to be six) children.
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