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7 Ways to Save on Organic Groceries (No Coupons Required!)

save on organic

Guest post from Molly of Perfect Pea

It’s no surprise that there is a consumer demand for organic food — with sales of organic food enjoying double-digit growth year over year.

But with cost of organic food being 10-30% higher than the conventional alternatives (based on USDA estimates), organic food can break the budget very quickly.

Since not all of us have the time or space to plant gardens, and farmers markets aren’t usually year-round, many of us are left paying higher prices at the grocery store during “off season”.

If that sounds like you, here are 7 tips to save on organic food at the good old grocery store:

1. Focus on the Worst Offenders

Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists are a great place to start when trying to focus your organic purchases. These lists will help you steer clear of the stuff with the most pesticides, and save money buying conventional when it comes to the cleanest fruits and veggies.

2. Search for Seasonal

Buying berries in December can be brutal on your budget. But look for produce that’s in your local growing season, and you can save big on the organic options.

3. Look for Local

Know which grocery stores stock local and price compare with the imported alternatives. Sometimes you can rake in dramatic savings on organic goods when you’re not paying the added packaging and transportation cost of food. However, this is not always the case, so be sure to look closely!

4. Buy the Bag

Bulk purchases can mean big savings. For example, just one organic apple may seem outrageous, but right next to it might be a bag full at a big discount.

Be sure, however, to purchase only what you’ll eat. Even if it means adjusting your menu plan for the week, if you’re not going to use it all of what you buy, chances are you’ll wind up wasting money.

5. Minimize Meat and Dairy

Adding lots of organic meat and dairy to your shopping cart is a quick way to skyrocket your grocery bill. Since buying conventional versions of these ingredients may mean exposure to chemicals you’d rather avoid, try cutting down on your meat and dairy consumption all together so you can select organic, knowing you’ll use these ingredients more as a side dish than the main entrée.

6. Find Frozen Fruit and Veggies

Fruit and veggie smoothies are a great way to get your greens all year round. However, buying these ingredients organic 12 months a year isn’t always realistic.

Before abandoning produce all together, take a look in the frozen section and you may be surprised to find organic, frozen alternatives can mean fantastic savings.

7. Compare with Conventional

Believe it or not, buying conventional over organic isn’t always cheaper! Although avocados are on the clean fifteen list, sometimes the organic alternatives sitting right next to them in the produce section are actually cheaper! In this case, you may want to opt for the organic option.

What are your tips for frugal organic finds?

Molly writes for Perfect Pea, a food blog focused on making dinnertime healthier, more fun, and less stressful for families who already have enough on their plates. Perfect Pea’s quick and easy recipes, dinnertime activities, and informative food facts help families avoid the bad stuff like processed foods, get more of the good stuff like fresh, organic vegetables, and have fun bringing family time back to the dinner table.

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  • amy says:

    One way to save is to combine two of your tips. When you find a great deal on something in season like fruit and greens for smoothies, process and freeze them yourself. It can save you even more than just purchasing already frozen produce.

  • Thank you for your advice. I will look for organic fozen fuit and veggies.

  • Sarah says:

    I’d echo the frozen fruit/veg tip. There seem to be more coupons for those brands. Although, I tend to not buy by the bag because the difference at my stores is minimal. There is always an increased chance of bruised or poor quality pieces of fruit which you can’t investigate as well as with loose fruit. Plus, start a garden. Even if you just choose one vegetable that your family eats and grow that it is a savings!

  • What a great list! We shop at Trader Joe’s where the organic options are much more reasonably priced.

  • Karen says:

    You can buy organic foods at local farmers’ markets or stands. Many farmers cannot afford the costs of certification but grow their crops without herbicides or pesticides. Just ask. You can usually trust them if they’re local because they have a reputation to uphold. I also like pick your own farms.

    • Lori says:

      Where I live, non-organic produce prices at the farmer’s market is 3-4 times more expensive than organic at the store. I just cannot afford it.

  • Julia says:

    I’ve also noticed that organic apples are sometimes cheaper than conventional. Watch for sales and always compare prices!

  • Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    We were able to purchase a portion of a whole, grass-fed cow, to fill our freezer with organic red meat, for a reasonable cost. We started with 1/4, and worked our way up to 1/2. We have 5 sons, that really like meat! My advice is to check out farms in your area that sell meat in bulk.

  • How about saving by growing your own vegetables? I recently started gardening I have been surprised how easy it is and how many different things I can grow.

  • Joanne Peterson says:

    Because I live next to a lake, we really don’t get warm enough long enough to grow a garden, so we belong to a CSA. Through the CSA, they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, and what they don’t grow, they buy from other farmers where they have an agreement, and we are also able to buy eggs, and meat. We are able to buy extra if they have extra at a reasonable price, and we freeze it. We pay up front either the whole cost with a discount, or it is split into three payments. The local farmer has less risk, we have vegetables at a reasonable cost for 24 weeks, and the box is delivered to a location once a week, and all I have to do pick up my box during a 7 hour window. The cost comes right around $23.00 a week for a variety of fruits and vegetables in season.

  • Kristen Bukowski says:

    Wal-Mart recently started carrying the wild oats brand. It’s all organic! Slightly more than Wal-Mart’s generic items but less than most brand name non-organic items!

  • Nice list. As you stated, focusing on the worst offenders is a great strategy. You can also find organic produce on the clearance racks alongside the other fruits and vegetables. You can normally get this organic produce at about half off the regular price.

  • Abby says:

    I don’t have anything useful to contribute to the comments. I just wanted to say that, as an English nerd, I love your alliterations 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    I love the Costco organic frozen vegtsble and frozen fruit . I also hit a sale at Costco where the organic pasta was about .91 cents a pound package . When I find a deal like that I try and buy a lot . Also I love Costco’s canned organic beans .

  • Kristine says:

    Aldi has some organic items that are cheaper than at a lot of other stores. Walmart’s Wild Oats brand is pretty reasonable, too. Even so, I can’t afford much organic food, unfortunately. Our budget has been very tight lately. Gardening isn’t an option for me. I used to get Door to Door Organics and really liked the produce that I got from them, but I had to put my subscription on hold due to financial limitations during the past couple of years. I hope to be able to restart that at some point. It was helpful to me not to have to spend money on gas to drive to stores or to farmers’ markets (since we don’t have any locally) where I could buy organic produce.

  • Celia says:

    One of the things I have noticed as I have been buying more organic for longer is that it has helped me really force myself to be choosy about where our grocery money is going, and to plan better. We’ve also tried things that we would have not been open to. Like tofu, it’s a very cheap protein. I like to blend it into ice pops for my children and we eat it once a week for dinner. My husband is very surprised as to how much he likes it. I would never have bothered making my own refried beans either, but they are fantastic. But being open to trying new things has helped most.

  • kariane says:

    Joining a CSA is another great suggestion, as is cooking from scratch. Both will save you a significant amount of money, in addition to helping you to eat healthier food.

  • Molly says:

    Thanks so much for all of the awesome comments everyone!!

  • Ethel says:

    Buying frozen food is a great way to buy a lot at once and save for a while! My family always buys frozen veggies and fruits, especially when they are out of season. Looking for seasonal produce will get you the freshest food! Thanks for the tips, I will be using these on my next shopping trip.

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