5 Tips for Buying Organic on a Budget

“Do you only buy organic foods?”

In a perfect world my answer would be yes because I see the value in buying organic, but at this point I’m not able to afford only organic food. I know many of you feel the same way so I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years for how to buy organic foods on a budget. 

Consider the Dirty Dozen // Clean 15

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with a list of the most and least pesticide contaminated fruits and veggies. The produce is tested after they are prepared to be eaten – thoroughly washed and peeled when needed. The EWG re-evaluates these lists every year so be sure to stay up to date! Essentially they are the ‘dirtiest’ and ‘cleanest’ produce in the market. When shopping for produce I try to at least by items from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list as organic.

Dirty Dozen +:

  1. strawberries
  2. spinach
  3. nectarines
  4. apples
  5. peaches
  6. pears
  7. cherries
  8. grapes
  9. celery
  10. tomatoes
  11. sweet bell peppers
  12. potatoes
  13. hot peppers

Clean 15:

  1. sweet corn
  2. avocadoes
  3. pineapples
  4. cabbage
  5. onion
  6. frozen sweet peas
  7. papayas
  8. asparagus
  9. mangos
  10. eggplant
  11. honeydew melon
  12. kiwi
  13. cantelope
  14. cauliflower
  15. grapefruit

Look for Store-brand Organic Items

Did you know that store brands are more often than not the exact same product as the name brand? Just in a different packaging! Fun fact for you. I often reach for store brands when grocery shopping but especially when buying organic. Store brand organic lines are often cheaper than name brand organic.

  • Kroger – Simple Truth, Private Selection Organic
  • Safeway – O Organic
  • Giant/Martins – Nature’s Promise
  • Whole Foods – 365 Organic
  • Trader Joe’s Organic
  • Target – Simply Organic
  • Wal-Mart – Great Value Organic

Use coupons or apps!

Coupons still exist and more often than not, stores will have apps or accept e-coupons as well. Many grocers have weekly sales that are announced in their print ads, online e-newsletters, or apps. You can also visit your favorite brands’ websites for coupons. I always check Organic Valley and Stonyfield Organic for coupons before purchasing their items!

It takes a little time and organization to search for deals but worth it if you’re working with a tight budget!

Shop Farmer’s Markets, Co-ops, or CSAs

All three are great ways to buy organic at a more reasonable price.

  • Farmers Markets sell foods that are grown locally and are in season. The carbon footprint of your food is drastically diminished and the food is usually tastier and cheaper. Plus, you can chat with the person who makes or grows the food you buy! It’s important to note that not all produce at the farmers market is grown organically so be sure to ask if it’s unclear!
  • Co-ops a.k.a food cooperatives are member-owned businesses providing groceries and other products to members at a discount. Many of the products sold at co-ops are organic. To join, you simply pay dues or volunteer.
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program where you buy a share and give the farmer’s the money up front. Typically the share means you receive a box of vegetables each week throughout the growing season. Certain CSAs, like the one I joined this year, actually let you debt from your account so you get the items/amount that you want for the week, not just a random assortment.
  • Find all the options near you buy visiting www.localharvest.org.

Shop Bulk or Discount Stores

Places like Costco and Home Goods often have really good deals on organic foods. There’s also Thrive Market, which is an online natural grocer that’s similar to Costco. You pay a membership fee and are able to get a ton of organic foods at a big discount.

Overall being aware of prices and shopping when things are on sale works wonders. At this point I buy certain organic foods at Whole Foods, some at Costco, and some at Trader Joe’s or Kroger because I know they’re cheapest at each of those stores! It takes a few weeks of being mindful of prices in the grocery store, but you’ll find your rhythm.

Now I’m passing the mic to you! Do you have any tips I forgot about?

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  1. Amazon is also GREAT for bulk organic items. I’ve gotten cereal, granola, EVOO, granola bars, oatmeal, etc on there – all for prices that are STEALS compared to stores.

  2. Hi Brittany! Thanks for the mention! What a nice surprise. We really do have great coupons 😀
    Another tip for saving money while eating a healthy, natural diet? One that works for me is to eat/make simple meals more often. Cooking and preparing your own meals and snacks will save the most money. Creating complicated, fancy dishes is great but takes a lot of creative energy! Simple meals mean food that’s prepared minimally and combined casually. It’s easier to mix it up when you keep it simple!

  3. Brittany!
    This was a fabulous post!
    I so wish I could afford to buy organic fruits and veggies!
    I didn’t even know there was a “dirty dozen list!”
    Thanks for the heads-up!
    And I must get one of those nifty coupon savers.
    Love your blog by the way!
    Just sent the hub out the door with his first container of Overnight Oats!
    Can’t wait to see if he likes!
    I followed your favorite Overnight Oats recipe you shared several post ago.

  4. Great tips! I heart your coupon folder, I need to get one of those bad boys! I mostly follow the dirty dozen/clean 15 rules for buying organic. Some foods are always organic (apples, lettuce, spinach) and some foods are hardly ever organic (bananas, avocados).

    • In elementary scoohl we used to get peanut butter sandwiches with lettuce added. I’m not sure why, but i remember it being quite nice. You are correct; nothing beats PB and celery. Happy Thanksgiving belated.

  5. What a great and important post. So many people choose to buy conventional produce, not realizing what they are sacrificing! It may seem cheap in the short run, but over time, buying organic is a wonderful investment. Thanks for the helpful tips!

  6. I always buy organic bananas- but they’re never listed as something to be concerned about- I think it has to do with the fact that they just taste better.

    This is a great post- I love how organized you are with the coupons!

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