shopping for organic foods

Shopping For Organic Foods – My Plan To Do It On Our Tight Budget

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In the past few days, I’ve been sharing my thoughts and asking a lot of questions about high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified foods. Considering this and the heavy use of pesticides, hormones, and mistreatment of animals, I’ve been slowly shopping for organic foods more. I have to admit though, it’s a daunting thought – the want and need to shop for organic foods on our food budget.

I do everything I can to shop well and stay in the budget, but after pricing much of the organic foods we would need to buy, there’s no way we could afford it all. The more I learn, though, about how important a healthy diet is and how much it truly impacts our wellbeing (I learned proof of this during our juice fasts), the more determined than ever I am to shop for organic foods and make them fit into our already tight budget.

I’ve decided, like any good parent turned food warrior, to make a plan of action and implement it. This is what I have so far:

My Shopping For Organic Foods Plan

1. I am going to do my research. I have been reading on the Internet to learn tips on shopping for organic foods and pricing, and finding where our local organic farms are, and so forth. You can do it easier than you might think. Try typing the name of your state and the word “organic” after it into a search engine, and see what pops up. Or, you can go to Local Harvest and type in your zip code. The idea of shopping for organic foods seems much less overwhelming now and much more doable. I find it easier to accomplish a goal when I’m feeling positive about it, don’t you? Well, of course you do.

2. I will continue to shop at the farmer’s market. They do have some of the best prices on organic produce, and many times I can find organic eggs and poultry there as well. Don’t be afraid to ask a farmer if their produce is organic. Ask them how to pick the best produce. Plus, I think I will ask the farmer’s advice on how to get the best prices on the most recommended to buy organic foods. Whatever your question, don’t be shy. Most farmers at the market are pretty friendly and love to engage in conversation while they’re working their stands.

3. Pricing…which leads me to Prioritizing – Randy and I are not in financial a position, like many others, to only shop for organic foods. Therefore, it seems obvious to me that I must prioritize which foods are a must to go on my organic list and which can wait for a while. In our home, we consume mostly milk, chicken, fruits and vegetables, and bread.

So, I’m going to suck it up and add the scary price of $6.00 gallon organic milk. I know it’s a hefty price, but… I figure if Randy and I can adapt accordingly to the price of gas, we can do so with milk as well. Our big kid has left for the Army just this last Sunday, and Randy and I can limit our intake of milk saving much for the children who are still growing. Organic chicken I have found for $2.29 a pound at Costco, along with reasonably priced organic vegetables (when the farmer’s market is out) and grains as well. I am going to shop around for breads yet, and a few cereals.

4. I plan to shop all over. This is going to be tricky (I don’t want to waste time or gas), so my shopping for organic foods is going to have to involve some planning. I think I can manage it though. Hands down, my favorite place will always be the farmer’s market, but I have been relying an awful lot on Costco, too, these days. I am surprised at how many organic varieties bulk food stores are carrying now. The baby and I will, also, take our first trip to our local health food store this week (Nature’s Patch) thanks to my son and daughter in-law. They went and said a few prices there were some of the best they could find. Another new and I can’t wait for idea; this weekend Randy and I will take the kids and visit a local organic farm that sells meat and produce. I’m excited to shop for organic foods on the farm and have the kids see where their food comes from first hand. What I cannot find affordable at all these places, I will then shop for online.

5. Shopping for organic foods online easier than I thought. I started with the Organic Consumers Association, Organic Kitchen, and Eat Well Guide to get more information and find online health food distributors. Amazon has a surprising amount of organic, reasonably priced selections as well. There is also much helpful information online about pesticides and recommendations on how to buy produce.

6. I’m going to stash a little “bargain fund” away for sales. I figure this way, when I’m shopping for organic foods at the Costco and find a sale on something in bulk, or I have a dandy coupon, I can dip into my “bargain fund” to stock up on it. It may only be a fund of $20.00, but hey, when I have a coupon or find that sale, I should be able to act on it.

7. This brings me to learning how to improvise and adapt my menu around what is affordable and in season at the present. It may not always be appealing for the whole family, but it makes a lot of sense financially. Shopping for organic foods can be expensive, so I’m going to try to cook with the seasons. Fall is approaching, so I see a lot of squash and other cooler weather fruits and vegetables dressing our table.  If I have a coupon or find a great sale, I may have to revamp my dinner around that sale for the evening…depending on the shelf life of the deal of course. Whatever it is, I am going to commit to being more flexible when shopping for organic foods.

8. And as long as we’re talking deals, do you know of any place you can get a good deal on a chest freezer? My father in-law found Randy and I a used chest freezer for $100.00. When I find deals shopping for organic foods, especially those I can keep frozen, I’m going to buy big. And now that some of my favorite berries are in season, I’m going buy a bunch and freeze them for later. If you do this, just make sure to use your frozen organic fruits or vegetables within 6 months of freezing. For more information on freezing, drying or canning fruits and vegetables check for tips at PickYourOwn.org.

9. Which brings me to the last part of my plan thus far: I’m going to grow some of my own organics beginning next spring. Why run all over town shopping for organic foods, when I can grow some of my own? It will be a bit of a challenge considering the extremely sandy soil we have here, but nonetheless, I’m going to try. Then, I can get back to canning for the off season just like I used to when we were living in Wisconsin. I do miss having a garden.  In fact, Randy and I are going to start a compost pile for our spring planting (another good use for our left over shavings from our juicer).

I’ll be sure to document our garden plans well in time for those of you interested in joining our “Spring into Organics and Planting.” My sister in WI is documenting her garden right now, and she’s going to add in her tips on how to raise a family of chickens as well. Randy and I cannot keep a coup in the city where we live, but some of you out there may be able to add the soap opera life and entertainment of chickens to your land like my sister and her husband did. They swear by it, claiming their funny chickens are going to put their son’s through college, lol! We’ll see, we’ll see… In the meantime, you could enjoy fresh organic eggs though.

I’m going to keep up my research and planning for shopping for organic foods on a budget. As I find more good information, I will let you know and send out occasional tips on twitter and our facebook fan page. For more good information on shopping for organic foods on a budget, please visit:  17 Tips for Buying organic Food on the Cheap, How to Shop for Organic on a Budget, Shop for Organic on a Budget, and Buying Organic Food on a Budget. I found these sites to be helpful and encouraging.

It may not be exactly affordable for our family to shop for organic foods as much as I like at first, but I sure am going to try. The way I see it, as long as I am buying at the very least, 1 organic item per shopping venture, it’s a way to help send the message to big food corporations that the demand for organic food is growing. The prices of organic food is slowly coming down as more and more people switch over, and I think if we all do what we can, the prices will continue to drop. We all can work together to make the quality of our food better, safe, and more affordable for everyone. Plus, it feels good to take a stand and be a part of something which should be a fundamental right for all – the right to have healthy food.

If any of you have some good advice or tips on better ways to shop for organic foods, please share it with me. I’m still new to shopping for organic foods and finding the best places, prices, and products. I will appreciate any input you could give.

Thanks so much for reading and wish me luck,
Here’s to not breaking the budget,
Amy

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