Eating Organic on a Budget!

Monday, December 22, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of our readers for following us over the past two years.  Our goal has ALWAYS been to inspire others to live a healthy (& skinny!) lifestyle.  In 2015, we will continue our focus on writing delicious & nutritious recipes, at home work-outs, the importance of eating organic & GMO free, and making a living while getting physically & financially fit!

With that in mind, we wanted to share our secrets to eating organic while staying on budget.  This past year, there were several weeks we racked up a $300+ bill at the grocery store ... for one week ... scary right?!  Who can afford that?  Certainly, not us!  And you better believe, the hubs was NOT happy.  We left the store feeling frustrated, wondering why we have to choose between feeding our families healthy food OR staying on budget.  This year we are determined to do BOTH!  And to supplement our income (BIG TIME) allowing us to spend money on the things that are really important to us.

With that said, 2 of our top New Year's resolutions of 2015 are 1. Eat organic & just as important 2. Stay on budget!

Here are our Top Tips for Eating Organic on a Budget 
(if you have any others, please do share!):

1. Coupons!  

For all of your favorite brands, like there facebook pages, follow them on twitter, stalk their websites.  Most companies reward their loyal customers with occasional savings so make sure you are in the know.  Also, sign up for store cards at all the stores you frequently shop at!  If you are on their mailing list, they will frequently send out coupons based on your shopping habits.  If you buy organic, you guessed it ... you will get organic coupons!  We get coupons mailed to us from both Wegmans & Giant.  If you shop at Target, make sure you have their cartwheel app as they frequently have organic savings listed.

2. What you can't find fresh, buy frozen!

We are both HUGE berry lovers but in the winter, they can be outrageously expensive!  $5.99 for one container?!  No thank you.  But in the frozen section, you can usually find them much cheaper.  To be honest, we don't love the frozen berries plain because they tend to get a bit 'smushy' as my 2 year old likes to tell me.  BUT they are perfect for smoothies!  Here are a couple of our favorite go-to smoothie recipes ... Raspberry Kale, Superfood Smoothie and Strawberry Spinach Mango.

3. Farmer's markets 

We LOVE farmer's markets!  Not only is the food fresher, which means more delicious & nutritious, we are guaranteed to be buying local, in-season produce which is often organic & pesticide free.  You will find great prices too as many of the local farmers do not pay for the fancy organic certifications and are able to pass along the savings to you.  Read more about our love of farmer's markets here.

4.  Buy local!

Not only will you be supporting your local farmers, but you'll be supporting your own wallet because you aren't paying all the middle men!  Many cities offer food delivery services these days that are sourced from local farmers.  If you happen to be in the Northern Virginia area, one of our favorites is The Farm Table ... but a quick Google search will put you in touch with similar services in your local area :)

5. Grow your own!

This can be a HUGE money saver and one of our favorite tips.  And is there anything more satisfying then preparing a meal with fresh food from your own garden?!  Just make sure to buy organic, non-GMO seeds.  If it says 'heirloom' you are usually safe to buy :)  Here are a couple good sites ... Annie's Heirloom Seeds & Eden Brothers.

6. When you find a good price, STOCK UP!  

This sounds like a no-brainer but can save you TONS.  Organic chicken was recently on sale at our local grocery store for $3.99 a pound ... usually $6.99!  We stocked up the entire freezer which really cut our weekly bill down.

7. What's most important?

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 by now.  Our general rule of thumb ... if you're going to eat the skin of the fruit, buy it organic.  If you peel it off, you are probably safe going conventional (with a few exceptions, of course!).

Here are the foods we always buy organic: meat, dairy, strawberries, apples, grapes, spinach, peppers & tomatoes.

And here are a couple we are OK buying conventional if there is a big price difference: bananas, avocados, pineapple, kiwis, grapefruit, cantaloupe & frozen peas.

8.  Plan your menu around what's on SALE!

This has been a big help in cutting down our weekly grocery bill.  We used to plan our meals, head to the store and buy everything & anything we needed for our set recipes.  Not anymore!  Now we scan the circular, check to see what we have on hand, then plan our meals out.

9. ... and plan your menu with double duty ingredients!

Rather than pick 5 different meals with 5 completely different ingredient lists for the week, try to meal plan reusing as many ingredients as possible.  For example, one week plan an Italian themed menu & the next plan several Mexican inspired meals  Here are a couple recipe groups that reuse ingredients to get you started!

10. Double recipes & freeze portions for another quick meal!

If our dinner will freeze well, we always make a double portion for another quick, go-to meal without having to re-buy ALL the ingredients again next week ... if there is enough left over for lunch too, even better!

11. Always look for a store brand.

Most grocery stores have their own organic line now as they realize consumers are looking for healthy, clean, GMO-free options.  Some stores have their organic line mixed in throughout the store & others have a separate organic section so do your research and shop around for the best price.


11.  Plan a budget & stick to it!  

When shopping, make a list and stick to it!  Throughout your shopping trip, scan your cart and think 'Do I really need this?' ... it's so easy to pick up extra items here and there (especially if you shop hungry!) but remember they add up.  Make a list before heading out, stick to it & skip the isles in the store that you don't need anything on!  Just skip the chip aisle all together, just because it's organic doesn't mean you want to eat it :)

Cheers to a healthy 2015!

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