Groceries are constantly rising in price, especially during inflation (like in 2021 and 2022). If you’re trying to eat better or change your lifestyle to feel healthier, you may be thinking about switching to organic food, but how can you do that without spending a fortune? Here’s how you can start eating organic on $100 a week!
Is paying the extra money to eat organic worth it?
Many of you are probably asking yourself, “Is it worth paying for organic food?”
It can be, depending on what you purchase.
The USDA organic label simply means that the food was grown without synthetic material and limited pesticides (which are also organic). It’s also important to remember that most organic foods take much more time and labor to grow, so the costs help pay farmers for their time and efforts.
However, some foods may not be worth buying organic, especially if you’re on a strict budget. Keep reading to see which foods may be better purchased conventionally!
Why is organic food more expensive?
Organic food is usually more expensive than conventional because it has to follow strict government farming and production standards, it has reduced exposure to pesticide residues, and farmers’ labor cost is more significant.
Related: 5 Ways to Beat Rising Food Prices
According to experts and medical professionals, a few foods are worth buying organic, even if you keep all other food conventional.
These foods include:
- Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Greens – Kale, Collards, etc.
These foods are usually thin-skinned or made with ingredients that are more susceptible to absorbing pesticides.
How do people afford to eat organic?
Is it possible to start eating organic on a tight budget? Quite a few people actually Google, “Can I eat organic on a budget?“.
The truth is, you can!
There are many ways to afford organic food, and we’ll get into more details later in this post.
But objectively, most people afford organic food by lowering other bills and expenses (like eating out) to afford a slightly larger grocery bill. And for some, they’ll incorporate organic food with cheaper conventional items to balance costs.
What do you do if you can’t afford organic food?
If you truly can’t afford organic food, that’s okay! At the very least, focus on foods that are naturally “cleaner” (aka without so many pesticides), and shop for in-season foods to ensure that your food is as fresh as possible.
Does organic mean no pesticide?
Sometimes organic means no pesticides, but not always.
The USDA labels certified organic food as…
- Food grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years before harvest
- Don’t include prohibited substances, including synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
- Natural pesticides must first be approved according to criteria that examine their effects on human health and the environment
- Organic meat means animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors, fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones
As you can see, pesticides can be used, but these are natural and have been evaluated to be safe and non-synthetic.
The ‘Clean 15’ list is a list of fruits & veggies with the least pesticide residue.
They are as follows:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Honeydew Melon
- Sweet Potatoes
In other words, these can be purchased non-organic because of how they’re grown.
Unlike the ‘Clean 15’, the ‘Dirty Dozen‘ are fruits and vegetables that should be purchased organic whenever possible.
- Kale, Collard, and Mustard Greens
- Bell & Hot Peppers
While other foods like pasta and bread are recommended to buy organic, these fruits and vegetables are the top contenders.
If you’re trying to make the switch to organic, here are the cheapest organic food options:
- Corn Tortillas
- Organic Frozen Fruit
- Soy Products (Tofu, Tempeh, etc.)
- Peanut Butter
- Frozen Broccoli
These can all be used in your lifestyle and are healthy and balanced for most eaters.
Related: Healthy Foods for a Tight Budget
How To Start Eating Organic On $100 A Week
Some people out there are asking, “How much do you spend on organic food a month?”. Well, at $100 a week, you’re spending about $400 a month on organic food.
For most, that’s extremely cheap!
Ready to start eating organic on $100 a week? Here are some top tips to help you keep costs down.
Focus On The Dirty Dozen
Not every household can afford all organic food. But if you can, try buying organic foods on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list since this will minimize pesticide exposure. The rest of the foods you buy can be conventional unless you have more room in your budget to spare on organic options.
Related: Is It Worth Buying Organic?
Purchase In-Season Produce
Produce is significantly cheaper when it’s in season. And, it’s often fresher and tastier too, so it’s a win-win!
Not sure about what’s in season based on where you live? Try out a map like the Produce Calendar.
Buy Frozen vs. Fresh
Did you know that frozen food is often fresher than actual fresh food because it’s picked during its peak ripeness? It’s true!
If you can handle the small texture changes or plan on using the food in mixed dishes (like smoothies or casseroles), buy organic frozen food instead of fresh. Not only is it cheaper, but it tends to taste better than food that’s been sitting in a warehouse for a season or two.
Buy Store Brand
There are almost zero differences between name brand and store brand items, especially regarding fruits and vegetables, frozen food, and wheat products like pasta and bread.
If you want to start eating organic on $100 a week, then purchase store-brand organic food when possible.
They have to follow the same rules and regulations that name brands do to be certified organic by the USDA, so you won’t be sacrificing on quality but may be able to save a few dollars.
Shopping at the right store can save you hundreds (if not thousands) on organic food. Stores like Whole Foods and Publix are notorious for being expensive. But stores like Aldi, Trader Joe’s, BJs, Sprouts, Lidl, Costco, and Sam’s Club tend to have just as many options but cheaper.
Shop The Sales
If you don’t have a store like Aldi or Sprouts near you, that’s okay! You can still save money on organic produce at your local store. However, it may take a bit more planning and cooking know-how.
By shopping the sales, you can make a menu out of the organic foods that are at rock-bottom prices that week. While this may take a bit more time, it can save you significant amounts of money, especially if your local store tends to cost more.
Purchase From Farmers
What’s better than buying something directly from the source?
By purchasing from local farmers, you’ll receive many benefits, including…
- Fresh and local grown food
- Keeping money in your local economy
- Providing a hard worker with a steady paycheck (and supporting their family!)
- Eating food that has been grown with love and care
You can support your local farmers in a few different ways.
First, you can see if they sell directly via a website or farmer’s market.
Another way can be supporting CSAs (also known as community-supported agriculture programs). These typically work with multiple local farmers to give you a variety of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. And, they make it easy to get multiple food items for one set cost.
Eat Less Meat
Organic certification for meat means the meat itself is organic and had a high quality of life while it was alive. But organic meat is expensive!
If you want to purchase organic meat, try buying less, stretching it into multiple meals, and keeping vegetables and grains as the center of attention. Also, buy cheaper cuts like shoulder and belly.
Buy In Bulk
If you have a larger family or tend to eat the same foods over and over, it may be cheaper to buy them in bulk.
Items like pasta, bread, frozen fruits and vegetables, and even meat can be purchased and frozen for long-term storage without sacrificing quality or taste. And, they tend to cost significantly less per unit than their small quantity counterparts.
It’s remarkably cheaper and easier to cook meals with fewer and simple ingredients than exotic and lots of ingredients.
For example, it’s much less expensive to make a dish with organic rice, tofu, and vegetables, than a meal that requires 20 ingredients, including organic berries and meat.
Keeping it simple not only saves you money but can save you time too.
Cooking meals with less than 5 ingredients can take 20 minutes, whereas a complicated and specialty dish could take hours, and no one has time for that.
Plus, by keeping it simple, that means less you have to buy and put away too!
Eating Organic On $100 A Week: It’s Possible!
As you can see, eating organic on $100 a week is totally possible. It just takes a little bit of know-how, planning, and being smart about when and where you shop.
And, even if you can’t purchase all organic food right now, it’s still possible to eat better and buy some organic products without breaking the bank!
Are you ready to use the above tips and start eating organic on $100 a week? I hope so! It’s great for your health and your wallet!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.