Buying Organic & Staying Frugal

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by on March 30, 2010

IMG_6583 Sounds like an oxymoron right? I know, organic is usually more expensive and as I learned last weekend as I was researching organic options, some things are twice or three times as expensive. So how are you suppose to stay frugal and buy organic?

I’ll be honest and admit that when I saw the price of organic milk that my jaw dropped. First let me say that I’m used to paying less than $1.99 for a gallon of milk, so picking up the gallon of organic at $4.83 was a price shock for me- but after reading and researching, I also know that it is well worth it. (I’ll discuss the reasons why it is worth it in another post).

The first step in staying frugal while buying organic is to remember that being frugal is NOT about being cheap. It is about valuing your resources, buying quality products, and finding the best deals based on  your needs.

Valuing Your Resources

This includes time, money, and products. Yes, organic can cost more, but doesn’t that just mean that we need to be tighter with what we spend and smarter about choices? For me, this means that I will only buy items that my family needs and/or wants. It means choosing to buy certain products over others for health benefits, and it means choosing to spend my time wisely in picking those products.

Buying Quality

I’ve mentioned before that I am frugally minded, but I am not cheap. I value quality products that will stand the test of time, so how is this different for food? Well, there are long term effects for the food that we choose to consume. Choosing to spend a few dollars more at the grocery store may be a preventive measure to health costs down the road.  Buying packaged foods with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenised oils may save time now, but at what cost in the future?

Deals Based on Your Needs

Not every good deal is a good deal for you or your family. Part of the frugal lifestyle is to know your budget and follow it. Since I am now making an effort to buy organic, I know that I need to adjust what items I will be spending money on. Part of this involves knowing what items I should buy organically, others that don’t need to be, and also finding other ways to save at the grocery store, like starting my own garden.

This is a journey, and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I welcome you to join me as I start to learn more about buying organic with a frugal mind. I plan to share my tips, and what I’ve learned, and hope to hear from you, as well. I know many of you have been on this organic journey longer than me, so please feel free to leave a comment so we can all learn more.

So, what do you think, how can you live a frugal lifestyle while buying organic?

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  • I’ve found that the easiest way to save money on organic products is to buy locally and through farmer coops or a CSA organization. You will almost always spend an extreme amount if shopping organically through a traditional grocery store….not to mention it’s not as fresh. Many organizations have options where you can place your order online for it to be delivered to your home or they will come to a central location (like the local library) where you can pick up your order. The best part is that they do all the thumping, smelling, squeezing, etc to make sure you’re getting the best produce. To find a local farm that participates in delivery programs, just google “produce delivery” plus your city’s name.
    .-= Rebeca´s last blog ..20% Off Carter’s New Online Store =-.

  • I just thought of a couple more ways to save on organic…this is a hot topic for me because we’re on a single income, but I am insistent that we buy organic (or minimally processed) with certain key foods.

    1. Now that summer is right around the corner, a farmers’ market is also a good choice. It’s not always the most convenient rout, but they can be really fun for kids and a great learning experience to boot.

    2. If you have the freezer space, you can purchase meat in great bulk. I lament the fact that I don’t have an extra freezer, but I have several friends who go in together to purchase a cow or a pig from a local farmer. They get to see the farm and know exactly what’s going into their meat. when the animal goes to slaughter, they each get half and they’re set for the year. Many local butchers will offer this on a smaller scale, but that often means and extra shopping trip.
    .-= Rebeca´s last blog ..20% Off Carter’s New Online Store =-.

  • Rebeca, love your tip on CSA (community supported agriculture). This is something that I am researching myself. A great site to find local CSAs is http://www.localharvest.org/ and you are right, many offer delivery to make it even easier for customers.

  • More great points! I’ve mentioned shopping at the Farmer’s Markets before since it is a great way to save, but it is also a good educational and healthy choice as well.

    We have an extra freezer, so this is another route I’ll be looking into….one of the local CSAs offers meat, dairy, and eggs pick ups, too. Great tips!

  • Bountiful Baskets.. just started last week and they have organic baskets too.. it is a co-op :)

  • Bountiful Baskets.. I just started last week and they have organic baskets too.. it is a co-op :)

  • We have a Whole Foods in my area. They take a manufacturer’s coupon, and a WF store coupon together. They have many coupons for organic items. So really it becomes more economical to buy organic.

    The milk does cost more, but have you noticed how long it lasts? I was pleasantly surprised!

    Without sounding mean, we all could probably save money and eat better (aka organic) if we also learned more about what a portion size really is. I think we eat a bit too much, and one way to reduce costs and eat better is to consume a little less :)
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Is BPA really all that bad? =-.

  • I have been looking quite closely at the organic ranges at my local store and i have noticed that the fresh produce is often only a few pennies more than the normal.

    lat week for the first time I was able to eat nearly all organic produce without my weekly shopping bill being blown away.

  • My husband and I have slowly started moving towards organic produce. It took a while to convince him that it is healthier for us than conventional. But it is going to take a while, plus a few more payraises, before I see us eating mostly organic food. My backyard is a mess, but we will probably start growing a few produce.
    .-= asithi´s last blog ..Resentment on Time Spent Exercising and Eating Healthy =-.

  • Very true, Amber, about portion size, especially when dealing with meat!

  • Asithi, have you seen the movie Food, Inc? That may help do a bit more convincing :)

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  • Marisa

    Check out this blog — Organic Deals and Coupons: organicdeals.blogspot.com/
    We too try to eat better in our household: no hydrogenated oils, little/no sugar products, fresh organic produce, organic products, very little processed foods. It is possible to be healthful AND frugal.
    FYI: not all Whole Foods stores will allow you to stack MQ with their store coupons. Here in So Cal, there is one store near by that doesn’t, while another one that does.

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