When it comes to eating healthy with high quality organic ingredients, the biggest issue I hear from you guys has to do with the heightened cost of buying organic. The truth is, a lot of organic food IS expensive, but there’s a number of ways to really save when it comes to grocery stores like Whole Foods and others.
Here’s my biggest tip on how to buy organic food for cheap:
What saving big really comes down to is avoiding most pre-packaged products. When you buy pre-packaged foods, like sushi rolls or organic kale chips, you’re really paying for what the company has already done to the base ingredients of the product — not the ingredients themselves.
As you can see in the video, I highlight this example using a bag of kale chips. The kale chips came in at around $6, and only contained a small amount of kale in the bag, while a large amount of raw kale was only $1.99 in the produce section. The raw kale for $1.99 could produce far more food, and is way less expensive, because it’s not just about the ingredients in the kale chips. You’re paying for the kale chip manufacturing company to purchase the raw kale, dehydrate it, process it on their equipment, spice it, ship it to Whole Foods, and then leave room for a profit.
With the raw kale, you’re paying much more so for the actual product itself. Does that make sense?
This is my top rule for saving big at the grocery store while still buying organic, and it’s an accessible tool for everyone reading to help cut costs while also preparing their own food (another plus). Here are another few strategies below.
Additional Organic Food Saving Tips
1. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk, especially at stores like Costco, can really save you big in the long run. Organic grains and cereals will last up to a year when stored properly, and even organic fruits and vegetables can be frozen to be pulled out later for stir frys and smoothies.
2. Join a ‘CSA’
Community supported agriculture programs will often deliver a box of local, organic produce and other food to your door for a small fee. These organizations save not only money, but time. If you can’t make it to the grocery store, then have it delivered. You’ll also be supporting local businesses.
3. Join a Co-Op
These organic cooperatives are growing. More and more cities offer fresh produce, breads, dairy, and meats to the people who sign up for their fresh foods. You can use a co-op directory service to find one near you, and score some super cheap, healthy eats.
2 thoughts on “How to Buy Organic Food for Cheap at The Grocery Store”
Don’t forget to check the clearance section. It’s common to find deals there.
While I agree with what you said about buying fresh produce and making your own stuff, keep in mind that those kale chips are dehydrated. If you would dehydrate that bunch of kale you were holding in the video, you would see that the finished amount is actually quite small. It’s safe to say that the price would be almost equal to the packaged chips by the time you dried enough store-bought kale to equal that bag. A better comparison would have been heads or bunches of lettuce compared to the packaged fresh greens. You almost always save money buying bunches/heads instead of plastic trays full of lettuce. An added bonus is that you can actually see the quality of the whole head of lettuce when you buy a bunch; when you buy the prepackaged stuff you will almost always find nasty bits of lettuce in there that will start making the good lettuce go bad unless you sort through it right away–and not everyone sorts through their lettuce the day they buy it. Buying packaged greens with marked-down prices means you darn well better sort through it soon because it’s probably at the end of its usable life (unless you’re wanting to buy scraps to put on your compost pile). If you have a choice between stores that sell organic lettuce by the pound or by the head, it’s almost always cheaper to buy it by the pound. Even better when regarding lettuce is to grow your own since lettuce doesn’t travel well and even the good-looking heads can be damaged from the bands they wrap around them. If you eat a lot of lettuce, this may not be feasible unless you have the space to continuously grow throughout the year.
The same idea applies to whole celery heads versus celery “hearts”. It’s usually cheaper (or at least the same price) to buy the whole thing and trim off the leaves at the end–even when considering the weight difference. Bonus there is that you can use the chopped-off parts (including the root end which you’d have anyways) to make vegetable stock, along with the peelings/trimmings from carrots, the skins of onions, and the stems of mushrooms and herbs. You can freeze these leftover parts in a freezer bag until you get enough of them to make a batch of broth. If the best you can do with your trimmings is compost them and use that for fertilizer on your garden, they will still add value to your household.
Another fair comparison for buying organic foods would be canned refried beans versus canned pinto and/or black beans that you turn into refried beans yourself quite easily. The price difference is dramatic. Amy’s refried beans are the best out there and they cost anywhere from $2.60 a can to $3.60 a can; whereas I can buy organic canned beans for $1 to $1.50 a can and throw them in a pan with some onions and peppers from my garden, along with some organic spices, to make essentially the same thing. Takes 10-15 minutes if you have an immersion blender to mush the beans at the end. Simple, simple. Saved half the money.
Back to the video…if I was a kale-chip lover, I would actually just grow my own kale during the growing season since it’s a very easy crop and you can save a ton of money over the fresh or dehydrated sold in grocery stores. Simple dehydrators only run about $40; Excaliburs are quite a bit more but they’re nicer and hold more, plus some models can also be used to make yogurt. I’ve had my inexpensive Nesco dehydrator for more than a decade, so it was definitely worth the initial investment.
There are so many more ways to save money when buying organic and free-range foods:
–Make “processed foods” from scratch (MYO pizza, soups, casseroles, desserts, etc–even bread and fermented products like yogurt and kefir, for the adventurous ones).
–Buy in bulk when possible (look at Azure Standard online to see if a drop point is near you; Amazon also sells bulk organic and natural foods, though the prices are too high for certain things–make sure to shop around).
–Comparison-price items in various local stores (buy some items from one place and some from a different store, plus visits to the farmer’s market).
–Stock up on items when they go on sale so that they’re back on sale by the time you run out. Don’t be afraid to buy 12 individual cans of beans from the store if it’s cheaper than buying a 12-pack from Amazon. The cashier will look at you funny, but who cares? You’re saving money! 😛
–If you’re a meat-eater, buy sides of beef and pork from local butchers (if available) and store it in a chest freezer to use over the next 6-12 months.
–Try to find local buying clubs and farmer co-ops, as well as herd-share dairies for raw milk (I get my ground beef from the farm where I get my milk–cows do die sometimes–and it’s the same price per-pound as factory-farmed meat at the store if I buy 20 pounds at a time). You can find a raw-milk farm nearest you at realmilk dot com.
–Grow as much of your own food as feasibly possible for you (which may be no more than growing sprouts or microgreens indoors).
The routine becomes easy after it’s established. What you end up with is a well-stocked pantry, capable of taking you through most any kind of emergency that might come up (the unintentional “prepper”). The initial cost to buy in bulk does seem harsh (especially when buying bulk meat) but the savings can be substantial.