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Buying Organic on a Budget

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There is a lot of talk about the benefits of buying organic foods. If something is USDA certified, you know that product has met strict government standards in the way it was grown or raised and processed. Most of us have bought into this lifestyle because we want the peace of mind of serving our families “safe” food. But how do we afford to keep it up—especially when conventional products are just down the next aisle and half the price of the organic variety? There are a few, simple ways to save money without having to sacrifice your food.

RELATED: Is Buying Organic Only About Mommy Status?

Prioritize your grocery list

1. The most important organic foods to buy are the “dirty dozen.” In order to ensure that there isn’t any pesticide residue in the produce you buy, make sure the most contaminated (like apples, strawberries and lettuce) are organic.

2. The FDA states that the product of an animal that has been implanted with growth hormones (or a conventionally raised animal) is safe for people to eat. However, it should also be noted that organic, grass-fed cows contain higher nutrients and the milk that comes from these cows has more beneficial omega-3 and less-damaging omega-6, according to Dr. Mercola.

3. Coffee. Most of us can’t live without it and are even willing to pay $5 for it at the closest Starbucks. Skip the mocha frapp, no whip, no foam, no air nonsense and make your own organic coffee at home. Most conventional coffee beans are sprayed heavily with pesticides. Ingesting these pesticides has been linked to cancer and other forms of disease. Not to mention, its toxicity is horrible for the environment.

Buy in bulk and FREEZE

1. If a product is "buy 2 get 1 free," get it! Freeze the perishables you don’t need this week. Or if it’s non-perishable (like organic pasta), store it in your pantry. You’ll need it at some point, so it won’t go to waste.

2. When organic berries are in season and cheap, freeze and save them for the winter months when they’re hard to come by and/or expensive.

3. Bulk dispensers are your friends. Organic nuts and beans are so much cheaper when they're unpackaged. Plus, you get to control how much or how little you want to buy.

4. Getting a whole organic chicken is less expensive than buying pre-packaged, separated parts. If you want to make chicken breasts for dinner tonight, then divide the parts and freeze the ones you don’t need. You’ll be glad you have those thighs stored away for chicken pot pie next week.

Coupons and online discounts

1. Major natural food stores like Whole Foods have printable coupons on their websites. Utilize them!

2. Search for your favorite organic products on the Internet to see which online shop has the best deal.

3. Don’t toss the circular. Flip through the pages of your market’s circular you either get in the mail or in-store. See what organic foods they have on sale before you make your way through the aisles.

Support local

1. Go to your local farmers market on a weekly basis and stock up on your organic foods. Supermarkets tend to upsell you because they need to make a profit too. Farmers markets are a great alternative.

2. Ask your farmer about the process of growing their crop and when it was harvested. Go straight to the source and know how your food is produced and made available to you.

3. Host a food co-op. You’ll be in charge of distributing food to other members of the co-op, usually on a weekly basis. While being a member who just picks up their share can be costly, a host usually receives a discount flyer or even better, will get their share for free because they’re volunteering their time.

Take note of stock.

1. Compare the well-known organic brand to the store organic brand. You might be surprised at the price difference.

2. Check the expiration date. If something is expiring the next day the store has to get rid of it. Ask about discounts especially on meat and bakery items that are almost past their prime.

RELATED: The Organic Guide: What to Buy and What to Skip

3. Don’t be afraid to ask the produce department when their next shipment is arriving for something that’s too expensive today. If the delivery truck is scheduled to drop off organic peaches on Friday then chances are the “old” but ripe peaches will go on sale on Thursday to make room for new stock. A smile and a "thank you" go a long way here.

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