Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How To Save Money on Organic Food | Kitchen Economics

Is eating organic food important to you? I don't like the thought of all of the pesticides, synthetic hormones and antibiotics passing through to my family, especially my two young children. So we eat a fair amount of organic, especially during the summer harvest. Have you ever eaten an organic, local, ripe strawberry?...heaven on earth.

Does the price of organic make you not buy as much as you would like? Eating organically can be expensive, so I am always looking for ways to save money on organic food.

When it comes to organic food, everyone's line in the sand is different. I have friends who are adament about eating only organic food and I have friends where eating organic is not a priority. We fall somewhere in between.

Here are 6 tips that I use to help us afford organic food:

1. Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.
A CSA is a commitment between local farmer/s and community members who pay the farmer for a seasonal membership. Each week the member receives a pre-purchased and pre-determined amount of produce and the farmer receives upfront money to run their operation. Some CSAs might require the members to volunteer hours on the farm in return for the produce.

We have been a member of a CSA for 9 years and it is the most cost-effective way for us to afford organic produce. During the May-November harvest season, we receive a weekly share of produce. Most of the produce that we consume during those months comes from the CSA. We supplement with produce we grow ourselves and I rarely need to buy produce at the grocery store during those months.

This year's price for our half-share comes to about $14.21 a week in organic produce. Obviously, prices will differ by farm. The above photo is an example of our weekly share in August when the box is full of high summer produce.

Our CSA also offers ‘OPEN Farm Days’ one Saturday each month during the harvest season. On these days, members can pick up any free extra produce that the farm has an overrun on. They also offer some extra produce at an extremely reduced rate. Last year I bought several 19 pound boxes of organic roma tomatoes for $6 each. Again, each CSA will operate differently.

I found a CSA farm directory, but you should also google to find one in your area.

2. Consider your grocery store's private label organic brand.
Just like non-organic food items, I always try the store brand to see if I/we like it. My good friend loves our store's private label vanilla organic yogurt and I didn’t care for it and went back to my beloved Stonyfield French Vanilla yogurt. Although, I don’t mind the store brand organic milk and that is usually what I purchase unless I have a brand coupon that makes the price better. It is a matter of preference, but worth some comparison shopping.

Here is a quick price comparison on a recent grocery trip:
  • Name brand 32 oz. organic yogurt $2.99 vs. store brand 32 oz organic yogurt $2.53.
  • Name brand half gallon of organic milk $4.05 vs. store brand half gallon organic milk $3.49

3. Compare price per unit and if the size makes sense go for the best price per unit.
  • Stonyfield Organic yogurt, 32 oz @ $2.99 = $1.50/lb, 6 oz cups @ .79 cents = $2.11/lb.
  • Horizon Organic Milk - half gallon @ $4.05, gallon @ $5.99

4. Look for organic or natural meat that has been marked down.
Marked down poultry or meat is safe as long as you use it or freeze immediately after you buy it. I wrote about marked down meat before and I regularly find this type of poultry or meat marked down at my store.

5. Visit your local farmers markets for organic produce, meat, poultry and dairy.

6. Visit the websites of companies that you enjoy.

Go to the websites of your favorite organic companies to look for coupons. Here are some links to a few organic sites that offer coupons. Generally there is a limit, but it usually resets every month.

How important is buying organic food to you? Do you have any tips for saving money on organic food? Let us know in the comments.

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This post is linked to Your Green Resource at A Delightful Home and Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.


  1. Glad I drop by! This is a great site and contains fantastic contents. Thanks for sharing this to us.

  2. I had dinner with friends on Sat. night. We started talking about food diversity, eating locally, eating organically, etc....
    In our town our local CSA and farmers market are more expensive than Wholepaycheck (the most expensive place to shop in town). We want to support our local farmers (and we do) but it's a difficult balance. I'm convinced Santa Fe must have the highest foods costs when I hear bloggers like you talk how inexpensive their CSA's are and the price of organic foods.
    What we do is grow our own chickens for eggs and poultry and have an extensive garden.

  3. Another tip for saving money while buying organic: shop at Trader Joe's. No lie. We save SO much money on quality food by shopping there.

  4. Hi! I'm visiting from Your Green Resource and wanted to thank you for the tips. I am considering joining a CSA and appreciated your comments about it. Thank you!

  5. We love our CSA! Our other main way of saving money on organic food is belonging to a health food co-op that sells many foods in bulk where you fill your own container. You save by not paying for packaging, but you can buy the exact amount you want! Some of their organic foods cost less per pound than the cheapest non-organic supermarket brand of that food.

    I agree with Even One Sparrow that Trader Joe's has great prices on many organics. Here in Pittsburgh, their fresh produce prices (and quality) don't compare favorably, but their organic yogurt, tofu, almond butter, and coffee are great values.

  6. I WISH we had a Trader Joes. I have heard that they ROCK! ...maybe some day they come my way.

    Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

  7. We only buy organic. We get produce from our local CSA and we avoid processed foods. Because lets ne honest processed is what is expensive when it comes to organic. Skip the processed and make things yourself and it is so muh cheap! Happy eating! I enjoyed your post! Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. Costco has actually proven to be a good, affordable source of organics for us. You just have to be able to ignore all the other stuff! I also do pretty well at Whole Foods using coupons.

    Great article!


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