Did you know that organic food can save you money? This may possibly surprise you, since supermarket organic food sometimes has the reputation for being wilted and overpriced. But there’s a few tips and tricks (which you are about to learn) which make it possible for you to save money while going organic with your meals.
- First, unless you have an unusual supermarket, forget about organic supermarket produce. For starters, it’s almost impossible for the consumer to ascertain where the produce in a supermarket comes from. It might have been shipped or trucked in from thousands of miles away, and the price will reflect this. Instead, look for local growers and find local market stalls selling fresh local produce in season. Make friends with your local organic sellers and you will be able to get bargains that most of the city won’t know a thing about!
- Buy organic eggs which are larger and more nutritious, as well as more full of flavor and natural color. This means you don’t have to add as many other ingredients such as flavoring sachets and expensive seasonings to provide depth to your cooking.
- Buy organic chickens which are more flavor-packed and which shrink less when cooked, meaning that you get more meals out of them. While one cheap regular supermarket chicken might be used up in one family meal, an organic chicken will often provide meat for two meals, plus a very nutritious carcass for boiling in water to make a stock – which later becomes a fast, tasty soup. That’s three meals from one organic chicken. Many people avoid making stock from a regular factory-farmed chicken because of the antibiotics and medications which the bird has been subjected to – it’s said that the neck of the bird, the most tasty addition to a chicken stock, is where these things accumulate. Buy an organic chicken, get several meals out of it, and make a worry-free stock as well.
- Buy organic fruits, which are higher in antioxidants. Everyone knows by now that antioxidants are an important part of the diet for helping to avoid cancer. What better way to save money than to eat cancer-preventing food? Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant-containing fruits known to man, as are goji berries – look on the local markets, as you may even be able to get fresh goji berries at certain times of the year!
- You could pay a gardener to develop a vegetable patch for you organically. Depending on the level of service which you pay for, you can have the garden tended to once a month, all the way up to once a day! You could have them plant organic food, grow it, harvest and bring it direct to your door for you – eliminating the need for you to spend any time on the garden at all. This would be an ideal solution for those who are busy full-time with their work, and those who work shifts, nights, or especially long hours. Even though it costs you money per hour to hire a gardener, it can work out to less per kilo of food produced than if you were to buy the food from a shop, that has been grown far away and trucked in, adding transport costs to the final price. You won’t even have to go to the shop or market to pick up your veggies. Plus, you’ll get a lovely garden to appreciate from the deck on the weekends.
- Rent out a room to a young person who wants accommodation in return for a number of hours a week gardening. You may even get your vacuuming, mopping and dish washing done for you as part of the deal. The ideal kind of boarder would be someone who is honest, reliable, sensible, and has a green thumb. Avoid people who smoke or use other substances, as you would with any tenant or boarder. A hard-working university student, a WWOOFer, or a back-to-the-lander working part-time in the city while saving money for their own place, may be ideal types of people. They get a room and board, and you get fresh organic produce grown right in your own back garden – everyone benefits, everyone is happy.
- Plant some vegetables yourself. Gardening doesn’t have to be hard. If you are thinking of saving money before anything else, then find the highest-value item of produce that you commonly buy, and grow that in your garden. Also, you can grow things like potatoes, zucchinis and tomatoes, which are easy to grow, go a long way and are good value for bulk and nutrition.
- Stop buying processed food and replace with organic whole foods. For every $14 you spend on a prepackaged meal, you could buy organic fresh produce to make several times that meal from scratch. Why not make your own meals from scratch using organic produce, then portion the food into containers and freeze. You will then have your own home-made organic meals, pre-packed and ready to reheat for those busy days when you’d be tempted to buy ready-meals. This is also a solution to help you save money by avoiding takeaway food. Takeaway food may seem cheap when you hand over the cash – $50 for a family of four is not uncommon – but just imagine how much fresh meat and vegetables you could buy for that price. Cooking in larger quantities using organic casserole beef, organic potatoes, organic carrots and organic beans, and a home-made meat stock, you could produce four meals to serve 4 people each meal, with the same amount of money – $50.
So as you can see, going organic is a sound way to save money on meals. You may not be able to simply replace all of your convenience foods with organic equivalents… for the same amount of money, but with a little creativity you can save money, improve your health and improve the planet, all by making a few alternative choices with your cooking.
Ally is part of the team that manages Australian Credit Cards, a free interest-free credit cards comparison service in Australia. Before joining ACC, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.
Want to serve your family garden-to-table organic meals? We’ve got you covered with everything you’ll need: from gardening supplies (including organic seeds) to cookbooks.
Image credit: ntoper at Flickr under a Creative Commons license
Readers may also want to check out Rebecca Blood’s month-long experiment on eating organic cheaply: http://www.rebeccablood.net/thriftyo/2007/04/the_organic_thrifty_food_plan_1.html
Rebecca fed her family organically on $74 per person per week, and had money left over at the end of the money.
As a farmer who has abandoned the “organic” ideology, a few comments:
“Buy organic eggs which are larger and more nutritious, as well as more full of flavor and natural color.”
They don’t have to be “organic.” They should be allowed to forage. The varied diet hens get from pasture is what makes eggs “full of flavor and natural color,” not organic grains blessed by the organic pope.
“While one cheap regular supermarket chicken might be used up in one family meal, an organic chicken will often provide meat for two meals…”
This is unsourced and I suspect nonsense. Buy a bigger supermarket chicken. It will still be cheaper than the “organic” one.
“Buy organic fruits, which are higher in antioxidants.” A single study of strawberries is not adequate to make vast generalizations. Even if it were proven that antioxidants are “higher,” so what? How many antioxidants does one need in a strawberry? If you really want antioxidants that badly, drink a cup of coffee.
“Plant some vegetables yourself. ”
Finally, what I’ve learned from working on an organic farm:
1. Organic farmers use pesticides.
2. Organic farmers are completely dependent on plastics, gasoline, and diesel.
3. Organic farming standards recommend homeopathic “remedies” over science-based veterinary medicines for livestock.
Organic farming is a scam.
“Organic farmers use pesticides.” Yes. So what ? Organic vegetables and fruits can also be eaten by insects and colonised by fungus. Pesticides allowed by the organic label help organic farmers achieve yields that, although lower than in conventional farming, allow them to live from their activity.
“Organic farming standards recommend homeopathic “remedies” over science-based veterinary medicines for livestock.” It may be a shock but there are even humans who give that to their offspring… Another shock : traditional medicines like antibiotics are always less efficient since they have selected (nasty side-effect) resistant strains of bacteria.
Science is an illusion 😉
“Organic farmers are completely dependent on plastics, gasoline, and diesel.” Yes. The same applies to 99% of the people living in the western world. We all depend on fossile fuel and our whole society will collapse when we run out of it unless we completely change the way we live. This is what motivates some organic farmers : change the way we live. BTW, it would even make sense to argue that from a certain point-of-view, it is more sustainable to by local-conventional than organic-from-far-far-away. It does not turn organic farming into a scam.