Normally you don’t think of those two words in the same sentence – organic and budget, but it can be done. Living on a budget doesn’t mean I cannot make healthy life choices. It just dictates my method of making those choices.
Only buy what you need. If you buy more than you can use, especially when dealing with fresh, you are just wasting money. Learn what your family likes and how much they will eat in a normal meal. Based off of that, you can calculate what you need.
Buy based on the seasons and the sales. Each week, I would begin by looking to see what was on sale. Then based on that and the contents of my pantry, I would plan the meals for the week. So let’s say that lettuce, celery, and green onions are on sale this week. I would plan a large salad with a bit of meat and cheese for lunch one day. Another meal might be a salad with pasta and meat sauce. So I get creative within “my bounds” that I set for myself.
Place priorities on how I purchase. Certain items such as apples are a must for organic due to the high amounts of pesticide used and ease of penetration. Whereas bananas are not as high a priority due to its thicker skin and lower rate of penetration. In my family, we make sure to get our apples, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, kiwi, lettuce, onions, and potatoes grown organic, but we do not worry as much about our bananas, grapes, and pineapples. If we are able to get them organic, super. If not, we don’t panic.
Use local. Take the time to find local growers in your area that offer organic produce and products. The prices are often lower and your purchase also supports your local economy. There are many websites available that local growers list their small family farms on to help you facilitate finding them.
Buy in bulk. If you are willing to buy in bulk, that can also get you a nice discount. Find a local farmers market that sells by the bushel. It doesn’t take a lot of work to buy a bushel of peaches in season, let them ripen, peel, slice in half, and freeze or can. Many fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought in season and stored for later. My family even enjoys cantaloupe frozen – it tastes like a popsicle! The same goes for meat. If you are able to find someone who raises meat in your area, and you buy it around their butchering time, it means they don’t have to store it and a cost savings to you.
Educate yourself. Understand the differences in organic and all natural. I might choose to buy my eggs locally where the farmer uses non-gmo feed and no hormones or antibiotics yet isn’t certified organic because those are the key components I am looking for and my cost savings is huge. And honestly, there is nothing like actually seeing where my food comes from. Local means that I get to know the farmer and often times his animals. I know that the chickens are truly cage free, look healthy, and enjoy being outside chasing little bugs. The cows actually moo and talk with the farmer. They are an animal not a number.
So while people don’t tend to think of organic and budget in the same sentence together, I think they can be! It comes down to the fact that the key is life and budgeting are about choices, shopping wisely, and being a wise steward of my health and family.