Five Ways to Eat Organic Cheap

It can be done! Here’s a few tips for affordable organic eating.

More than 15 years ago, when I first started at the Co-op, I attended a meeting of local and regional cooperators to brainstorm ways to promote the benefits of natural and organic foods. Co-ops were touting organic long before organic was cool, but the price of organic products—or at least the perceived price—was a hindrance to many shoppers.

How times have thankfully changed! Organic and natural products are more prevalent and affordable than ever before. Still think you can’t afford to eat organic? With a little knowhow, it’s easy to eat organic even on a budget. Here are five suggestions from our food pros:

Eat Less Meat
We love our organic, non-GMO, free-range meats, but meat of any kind isn’t cheap. Co-op member and former staff dietitian Mary Saucier Choate suggests “using meat as a condiment and less as a main attraction.” Meat, poultry, and fish are expensive, so Mary suggests using them as an ingredient in stir fries, tomato sauce, and stews where you can “stretch it” with vegetables, pasta, or rice.

Reduce Waste
Speaking of Mary, she is quick to point out that reducing food waste is a great way to save money overall. The more money you save, the more you have in your budget for quality organic foods. Check out this great post from Mary on ways to reduce food waste.

Shop the Co+op Basics
The Co+op Basics program is a selection of staple foods, including natural and organic, priced below the suggested retail. The Co-op is able to offer this program by working with a network of other cooperatively owned food stores across the country to negotiate lower prices and pass the savings on to you. Co+op Basics products are easy to find throughout our stores. Just look for the purple shelf tag.

Shop the Bulk Departments
Food co-ops are huge fans of buying in bulk! Our Bulk Departments have hundreds of products, including organic, and you get more for your money because you don’t pay for packaging. By the pinch or by the pound, buy just what you need.

Shop Outside the Supermarket
For obvious reasons, food co-ops are often partial to grocery stores. But it’s not the only place to find great organic products. Our recommendation? Join a CSA and/or shop a farmer’s market to get your local organic meats and produce straight from the source.

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis

Ken is a writer in the Co-op Outreach Department. Email him at kdavis@coopfoodstore.com.