Let's play another game of word association today.
I'm going to say two words, and then I'm going to go ahead and guess the first word that comes to your mind.
For many of us, the first word that comes to mind is expensive.
If I'm right, then read on, as I'm going to teach you how to change your thinking and find ways to make buying organic affordable.
Buying organic doesn't have to break the bank. Yes, organic farmers and manufacturers have to pay a lot for their organic certification. Yes, organic items can be more expensive at the shopping cart than their non-organic counterparts. However, if you shop smart and adapt your thinking, there are many ways to save on organic products.
How to Buy Organic Food on a Budget
1. Shop the store brand
The house brand can offer greater savings. For example Woolworths has their own organic range - Macro Organic. They also have other products under the Macro brand, such as Macro Free Range, so be sure to look for the certification labels when buying organic. Macro Organic is ACO and NASAA certified. You might find it easier to research your shopping list online first as most supermarkets offer online shopping these days. This could be a much faster way of comparing items than walking all over the supermarket floor, especially if you have kids in the trolley!
2. Shop the sale bins
Compare the store's own brand with sale items. Check fruit and vegetables, too - overripe fruit can be turned into jam or fruit purees, and vegetables can be turned into soup. Just make sure you'll whatever you buy before it goes off, because you're not saving money if you throw it away.
3. Buy in bulk and preserve
If you find a bargain, buy in bulk and preserve what you can. Fruits can be preserved in the way of fresh, homemade jams or even homemade roll ups, especially if you happen to own a dehydrator. I bought a tray of strawberries at the end of summer, and turned them into a year's worth of delicious strawberry jam.
Veggies can be blanched and frozen, or you can spend your Sunday pre-making meals with your bargain organic products and perhaps swapping them with friends, family and colleagues.
4. Buy direct from the farmer
If you're lucky enough to live near farms, you'll find that many farmers will grow their produce using organic practices, but forego the certification due to additional costs. This also works for bulk meat purchases as well - buying a second hand full size freezer paid for itself the very first time I did a bulk beef order for our family. This is by far where you'll see the most savings in your food bill.
Talk to farmers at your local farmer's market - they'll be happy to tell you how they grow their produce. And even if they're not organic, you'll find many spray free products.
5. Grow your own
Even if you've got a tiny garden, you can grow at least some of your own stuff. One year I kept us in salad vegetables by growing them in the kids' old clamshell paddling pool. As leafy greens are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and loose salad leaves are really expensive, this was a great saving and a much healthier way to eat our greens.
Herbs are easy to grow in a few pots in the sun, and even tomatoes grow well in pots. You don't need much space, and as a bonus, kids love to eat what they've grown.
6. Only buy fruit and vegetables that need to be organic
Not all fruit and vegetables have to be organic. Watermelons, avocados, kiwi fruit, pineapple, rockmelon, sweet corn, and sweet potatoes are some of the fresh produce that don't need many pesticides, so there's no need to buy these organic.
Concentrate instead on making sure that you buy organic when it comes to the dirty dozen
fruit and vegetables: apples, capsicum, blueberries, celery, grapes, cucumber, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, strawberries and spinach. These have high levels of pesticides and other chemicals, so it makes sense to ensure that you buy organic when it comes to these.
How to Buy Organic Baby Products on a Budget
The great thing about planning for your new arrival is that you've got up to 9 months to do it! There are plenty of organic baby items you can buy in advance in unisex colours when you come across a good sale. In addition to that, you're no longer limited to your local department store. You'll often find cheaper organic baby items online if you shop the sales.
1. Shop big and save on shipping
If there's something in a store you don't need right now, but you regularly use, add it to your cart and bulk up your order to qualify for free shipping offers. Many online stores offer free shipping when you spend a certain amount.
2. Give cloth nappies and other reusable products a go
And before you rule it out, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing position. You can use cloth nappies at home and still keep a stash of cleaner, greener disposable nappies for convenience during outings or overnight. You'll be surprised at the savings you can make on nappies and wipes if you use reusable products even a fraction of the time.
3. Buy multi-use products
When it comes to baby skincare, there's a multitude of products that manufacturers would like to convince you that you need. If you find multipurpose products, you're less likely to throw out unused items, plus you can buy in bulk and save.
For example, I buy Dr Bronner's
liquid soap in 1L bottles. I use it for handwash, shower gel, washing the dog, washing the kids' hair and in heaps of homemade cleaning products. Another idea is to buy a multipurpose balm like Badger Balm
or Nature's Child Wonder Balm
. These are good for nappy rash, for minor scrapes, dry skin, even for cuticles and fly away ends on your hair!
4. Group buy with friends, family and colleagues
Do this to qualify for free shipping, or to receive bulk discounts for items you may need to purchase a dozen of, like you would a case of wine.
- Make it a challenge. Change your mindset. Turn off the autopilot when grocery shopping.
- Set yourself a budget. You'll be sure to find a way.
- Sell pre-loved toys and clothes for your 'organic' savings jar.
For many of us, direct contact with the farmer or manufacturer of produce and products is simply not possible. So when you buy organic, you're also buying peace of mind.
Lastly, recall how many stories you've heard from those close to you and acquaintances from school or work whose children have undergone hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of tests and visits to doctors, specialists or naturopaths only to find out they're reacting badly to pesticides in foods or toxins in washing powders. All of a sudden, buying organic doesn't seem too expensive as prevention is better than cure, after all.
Share your organic bargain buying tips in the comments below!
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