Organic on a Budget

If you’re like most people, you’re feeling the pinch right now. Many people are trying to make the most of their food dollars. Here are a couple tips that will allow you to eat well and organically with just a little effort that you can take to the bank.

  • Make a food budget and stick to it. This includes food you make at home as well as eating out.
  • Plan your meals before you shop. Keep an eye on monthly specials and incorporate sale items into your menus.
  • Keep it simple – using fewer ingredients means lower costs and less time cooking!
  • Make a list and stick to it. This really does help you avoid blowing the weekly budget. You might allow yourself just one treat – or let your children choose one special thing each week. Many families find it fun to select a fruit or vegetable item that they have never tried before – this can be exciting for the young ones and you can sneak in a nutritional bonus at the same time!
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. Time to find a new rationalization for impulse buying.
  • Make it yourself most of the time. Homemade virtually always costs less and tastes better. Homemade tomato sauce, for example, is about half the cost of commercially prepared sauce.
  • Shop the bulk aisle for pantry staples. Most stores now carry bulk items; this allows you to buy exactly the quantity you need and save the cost of packaging.
  • Use the perishables you buy. That really good deal on cabbage isn’t so good if you end up composting it.
  • If you eat meat, consider using it only a few times each week. This will save you a considerable amount of money and has the added benefit of slashing your saturated fat intake. Use bean and whole grain dishes instead.
  • When you do have meat, eat less of it. Rather than serving a quarter-pound to each person, add one half-pound of organic ground beef to a pot of chili or sauce for four people.
  • Make and use your leftovers. Many things actually taste better after a day in the refrigerator allows the flavors to blend and mellow. Leftovers are an instant free lunch, or can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
  • Give some thought to how you cook and how you want to eat. Are there some specific tools or appliances that would help you achieve your dietary goals? A food processor makes vegetable prep easier for some people, while others prefer a good knife. A slow cooker can be simmering dinner while you are at work or maybe a pressure cooker would be a good investment. Get the tools you need to help you eat well and enjoy the process.
  • Local, seasonal produce is usually a better value than imported, so plan your menus accordingly. The side benefit is that really fresh, seasonal produce tastes much better and retains more nutrients.
  • Ethnic specialties featuring whole grains, beans and vegetables are often less expensive to prepare than meat-and-potatoes fare. Get a cookbook, search the internet and/or take a class – just for fun!