How to Eat More Organic Foods on a Budget

Here at Michael's® Health we believe that many of the best food choices center around organic options. There are many benefits of eating organic foods. The problem many people run into when trying to eat more organic is cost. So, below we’ll provide some tips for increasing your organic produce intake without breaking your budget.

Benefits of Organic Food

Some of the biggest benefits of organic food include:

  • Fewer synthetic pesticides and artificial fertilizers
  • No synthetic hormones or antibiotics in organic meat
  • Higher antioxidant content in some cases
  • More omega-3 fats in organic meats and milk
  • Fewer heavy metals

With these benefits in mind, here are some tips for increasing your intake of organic foods in a budget-friendly way.

Utilize the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”

To focus on the most important areas to buy organic, use the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. This will help you know which produce items are best bought organic and which items are safer when bought conventionally.

The Dirty Dozen (that are most important to buy organic) are:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen (that have the lowest levels of pesticides) are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew

Buy Your Organic Choices In Season and In Bulk

In-season produce is more affordable than out-of-season options, so buy in season for your organic produce.

You can also save money on some items by buying in bulk. Just compare the price per unit for bulk versus non-bulk items to see where you can save money. You can freeze items that won’t stay fresh on their own until you’re ready to use them.

Shop the Sales

Before shopping, check out the store’s weekly sales flyer for discounts. Some places will have some organic items on sale for the week.

Look for the Organic Label

Truly organic items should have the USDA Organic label, so look for that. Be wary of expensive brands that claim to be “all-natural” or other terms that don’t really mean a lot. Make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

Find Private Labels

A lot of stores have begun offering their own organic products under their labels, such as Whole Food’s 365, Albertson’s O Organics, and Publix’s GreenWise. These products are often more reasonably priced than brand name items that sell organic options.

Don’t Be Afraid of Buying Frozen

Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can be very cost-effective. They last a lot longer and are often cheaper than fresh. The same goes for organic produce, so don’t forget to shop the frozen section if what you want fresh and organic is too pricey.

Shop at Different Stores

Make sure you utilize budget-friendly stores when looking for organic options. Although places like Whole Foods are known for their healthy and organic options, they are often very pricey. Stores like Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Walmart, and H-E-B often have many affordable organic options. Sam’s Club and Costco can be cost-effective if you’re okay buying in bulk. And don’t forget about online grocery options like Amazon or Imperfect Foods.

Go More Plant-Based

Many people want to ensure their meats are organic as much as possible—but that can get expensive quickly if you buy a lot. Plan to start eating more plant-based meals throughout the week so spending more on organic meats won’t break your budget.

Avoid Organic Convenience Foods

Boxed, packaged, and processed organic foods can be extremely pricey. If you can, make more meals from scratch from fresh ingredients. Avoiding packaged items is better for your health anyway, and you’ll enjoy more benefits from your organic food when it’s fresh.

Progress, Not Perfection

There is no need to be completely perfect when it comes to non-organic versus organic food choices. The best you can do is just that: your best. Buy the organic foods that are realistic for your budget, then simply focus on whole foods for the rest of the time. Work towards a healthy balance that works for you and your family.

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