Do you buy your apples organic? A recent screening from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found pesticide residue in 98% of apples, the highest rate of all the produce it examined. The numbers are shocking! To us, it’s clear: organic is healthier, safer, and overall better for us, our families, and the environment. While we would prefer to feed our little ones apple slices that aren’t contaminated with pesticide residue, organic isn’t exactly the thriftiest option. However, there are ways to get organic for cheaper. You can still make cheap family meals with organic ingredients. All it takes is a little bit of brain power and prioritizing to make organic fit into your budget-friendly family meal plan.
- Shop seasonal: Shopping seasonally will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to organic, and you can often find seasonal ingredients on sale, too!
- Go for the off-brand: Both regular and all-organic supermarkets frequently provide organic versions of big-name organic products. When you’re at a supermarket, pick the store brand over big-name organic products.
- Shop at farmer’s markets: Most of your buys will be cheaper and fresher at the farmer’s markets. If you don’t see a sign that says organic, be sure to ask. Most farmers at the markets are making the transition into organic farming, but haven’t earned the necessary funds to get officially certified. Just because they’re not considered organic by the USDA, doesn’t mean that they’re not farming using organic, sustainable, and healthy practices. The best thing about farmer’s markets? You can haggle! Try to land a deal with the farmer for misshapen produce, or for bulk purchases. With a little bit of swindling, you could land yourself a deal.
- Buying clubs: A buying club is a great way to get the organic food you want for cheap. Buying-club members purchase food and other organic products in bulk and then split the stash. In a buying club, you may be able to get 30 percent to 40 percent off the retail price.
- Grow it yourself: We may not all have a green thumb, but growing small herbs, fruits, and veggies could give you a little bunch of produce for a fraction of the retail price. Best of all? It’s right in your backyard! If you’re a beginner, try growing a small indoor garden with plants like spinach, carrot, kale, basil, and rosemary, which will give you plants all year round.
Know what you should and shouldn’t buy organic: You don’t have to buy everything organic, necessarily. Plants with a husk or thick rind often go unpolluted by pesticides because of their thicker skin. Produce that usually goes pesticide-free includes avocado, pineapples, cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon, grapefruit, and onions.
If you’re trying to keep your meals cheap but healthy, keep these tips in mind! When you buy organic you’ll taste and feel the difference, while feeling better about the meals that you’re serving your family.