How to Save on Organic Foods: Top Ten Tips for Families on a Tight Budget

How do you save on organic foods and stay within your grocery budget? 

With smart food selection and a spending plan that doesn’t require loads of time researching coupons, sales and flyers!

Although being able to save on organic foods is getting easier, every dollar counts when you’ve got little ones to feed. You have to get smart about which organic foods to buy and how to keep your costs down.

A part of financial literacy is tackling this sort of holistic life style decision. When it comes to food, it’s important to: 

  • not base your decisions just on numbers
  • consider your health and what you’re willing to pay for it
  • balance this with your budget and time grocery shopping

So here are my top tips for busy families who want to eat healthy and buy more organic produce, but want to avoid spending too much time researching, shopping and making one-off trips for special purchases.

Top 10 Tips to Save on Organic Foods

1. Know your terminology

Save on organic foods by understanding organic terms.A package of "hormone-free" deli meat that I regularly buy from Superstore: "Raised without the use of antibiotics".

Understanding the lingo around organic and natural foods can help you save a tonne of cash.

For instance, research shows that in some cases, “hormone-free” or “natural” foods may be nearly as good as “organic” ones and can be less expensive if they don’t have to go through the rigorous process of being certified organic. Consider terms like:

  • natural
  • free-range
  • antibiotic-free
  • cage-free
  • hormone-free
  • transitional

What do they all mean? 

Here’s a great article that explains the above terms and explains which foods might be worth your money to buy organic.

2. Decide on your "non-negotiables" for organic foods

Why do you want to buy organic? Is it because of animal welfare or to reduce pesticide ingestion? Or both? 

Once you have this figured out you’ll know which foods you want to buy organic and which you’re willing to buy natural or even conventional.

Which foods do you consume most? Our family doesn’t consume much meat or dairy products overall, but we do buy lots of fresh produce. So organic fruits and vegetables are a non-negotiable for us.

3. Choose organic foods with higher health payoffs

Know your dirty dozen and clean fifteen

List of dirty dozen and clean fifteen produce.

Does your family eat lots of foods that are part of the dirty dozen? These are foods higher in pesticides and worth spending more on to purchase organic, especially if they are a stock item for your family.

Generally, produce with thick peels, like avocados or grapefruit, tend to have lower quantities of pesticides because of this natural barrier. The chart above shows the list of the Clean Fifteen (in order of least contamination) and Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination) provided by the David Suzuki Foundation.

4. Shop local

Aside from supporting your local farmers and community, why should you shop local?

Consider the transportation of produce. It involves moving foods to several different environments that increase exposure of foods to pollutants. Local foods don’t have to travel so far and have less exposure to contaminants and pollutants. 

Also, local farmers may not produce certified organic foods, but many come pretty close to it.

And in my experience, I often find that local produce is priced similarly to the stores, but the produce always seems bigger and fresher to me. 

5. Shop at Costco or Superstore

If you don’t have time to visit farmers markets, shop the big box stores like Costco. They offer organic store brands and even well known organic brands at competitive prices because of large volume purchases from suppliers.

You'll save on organic foods here because often their prices are better than the high-end organic stores.

6. Use a delivery or pickup service to control your budget

Some organic food companies, like the Organic Box (based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) will offer a delivery service. This tends to be a bit pricey unless you set aside a part of your budget dedicated to this. 

I like to select my organic produce online at Superstore through their Click and Collect service, which allows you to pick up your grocery order for a small fee of $3. It saves me huge amounts of time and helps me stick to my budget.

7. Eat less meat

Organic meats are expensive. They are also smaller because they haven’t been plumped up by chemicals and other unnatural substances. On average, meat can cost you twice the regular amount you pay for regular meat.

So eat less of it. Find other non-meat sources of protein like beans, tofu, nuts and seeds.

8. Invest in a vacuum sealer

Vacuum sealer for extending the life of organic foods.Here is my Foodsaver brand of vacuum sealer that I use to extend the life of fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods.

Owning a vacuum sealer is the best way to extend the life of your fresh or cooked organic meals. Talk about zero wastage! This one is worthwhile and will definitely have you save on organic foods. 

A vacuum sealer can keep your fresh, frozen, liquid or dried organic goods much longer:

  • Up to 3 weeks in the fridge
  • Up to 2 or 3 years frozen

The cost can range anywhere from $30 for a basic one to more than $100 for a higher-end one once you throw in the plastic bags. But it’s a one-time cost for the machine that pays you many times over for potentially hundreds of meals.

9. Grow your own herbs

Much easier to do than you think. I started with 4 staple herbs that I eat all the time: rosemary, basil, mint and chives. I find rosemary and chives are the hardiest. So I can leave them outside to weather the storm – literally! 

Organic herbs can be costly and difficult to consume before expiry dates. So growing your own means on-demand and free!

10. Don't buy organic produce...

Just clean conventional produce well. Doing this alone releases you to buy non-organic produce and not feel too badly about it. 

Wash your veggies thoroughly – I like to use salt and warm water to scrub my apples, strawberries and other types of berries. 

Or, take off the skin entirely, which takes care of a lot of the surface chemicals. 

For specific tips on caring for produce, visit this site.

Looking at biggest bang for buck, these are the tops ways I believe you can easily save on organic foods.

› Save On Organic Foods