Can you buy organic foods and still be frugal?

Organic and Frugal?

by Pat Veretto

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Can you buy organic foods and still be frugal? Maybe. You just can't get around the fact that organic food from the health food store or the grocery store is more expensive than products grown with the help of chemicals and kept with the help of additives.

Organic is healthy and being healthy is frugal. And that's a start, but in terms of pure cash flow from day to day, buying all organic food can be very non-frugal. Is there any way around this?

You may never be able to buy organic food as cheaply as other foods, but you certainly can lower the cost with a little sleuthing and determination.

Buying bulk organic food is a great way to save, not only on grains and fresh produce, but on meat, too. If you can find someone who raises organically fed beef or pork or small animals for butcher, it will usually be cheaper than buying organic meat from the store (if you can even find it there!).

If you have room to raise your own meat, you can save even more. Rabbits, chickens, quail and so on can be raised organically in even small areas, but you have to do more work than just going to the feed store and hauling home sacks of chemically grown feed.

Cook from scratch, and I mean scratch. Make organic soy milk and tofu. You can save around three dollars or more on a half gallon of soy milk. It isn't hard to do with a blender, but electric soy milk makers are available. While they may seem pricey, do the math and you'll find it won't take long before they pay for themselves.

Related: 10 Things You Can Stop Buying at the Grocery Store

Grind your own grains for bread. Manual grinders are cheap, but electric ones are worth it, too. At an average of seven dollars for five pounds of organic specialty flours, you'll save tremendously.

Join an organic food co-op. Since a co-op can buy in bulk but you don't have to when you shop there, you can buy smaller amounts of fresh produce as well as saving the hassle of finding storage for large amounts of food.

Related: How to Save Money and Eat Healthier with a CSA

Look for non-certified organic food. Farmer's markets and roadside stands are good places. Get to know the grower, or at least be friendly, and ask how the food was grown. It doesn't have to be certified to be free of chemicals and poisons.

You'll seldom find coupons for organic foods in mainstream magazines and newspapers, but they do exist. One way to find them is to go to the website of a brand name organic food you want and see if they have coupons there, or email them and ask. All Organic Links is a good place to start to find organic food, clothing and other products. Another way to find coupons is to watch the containers the food is in. Some have printed coupons on or in them.

Most organic food brands have websites that often offer printable coupons for their products.

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If you can, grow at least part of your food. You can get it a lot cheaper than even non-organic food on sale. Even if you can only grow a little lettuce or a few radishes in a pot on a windowsill, you'll save money (if you would otherwise buy lettuce or radishes).

Don't feel guilty about eating healthy! Just work to make sure you really do get the best for less.

Updated September 2013

Pat Veretto is a work at home grandmother who has homesteaded, homeschooled and happily lived frugally most of her life. She currently freelances.

Take the Next Step:

  • Look for a farmer's market or a roadside stand in your area. Don't be afraid to ask a few questions about their growing practices.
  • If you'd like to start growing some of your own food but space is an issue, take a look at this article on container gardening to get you started.
  • The Shoestring Gardener provides creatively frugal gardening how-tos, remedies & tips.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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