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Can We Eat Organic On a Frugal Budget?

by retirebyforty on January 17, 2014 · 60 comments

in expenditure, frugal, saving tips, sustainability

We are a bit late to the organic party, but I guess late is better than never. This year we plan to eat more organic food and it will be challenging on a frugal budget. We usually shop at Winco. They are a privately held, majority employee owned discount grocery chain on the west coast. According to a study by Consumers’ Checkbook, Winco’s prices are about 20% lower than Safeway and other big chains. We have been shopping at Winco for years and it’s a great place for groceries, but they have very few organic selections. On the other hand, Whole Foods’ prices are about 55% higher than average. If we stop going to Winco and shop at Whole Foods, then our grocery budget will basically double. That’s a bit too much for my frugal minded budget to accept.

Actually, we are more comfortable financially this year so I raised our grocery budget a bit to accommodate more organic food. Eating healthier is more important now because our kid is eating a wide range of food and we’d like to minimize antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, fertilizers, and all the other bad stuff. I have been doing a bit of research to see what we should spend our money on and here is our strategy.

eat organic on a frugal budget

Organic dairy can be expensive.

Dirty Dozen produce

Fruits and vegetables can have a lot of pesticides and we need avoid the worst ones. I know apples are high on EWG’s list and that’s one of our kid’s favorite fruits. Here is the Dirty Dozen Plus list.

  • Apples and pears – Organic apples and pears are not too expensive at Trader Joe’s and that’s where we get them.
  • Potatoes – I didn’t know potatoes absorb a lot of chemicals. A 4 lbs bag of potato cost $4 at Trader Joe’s so it’s not too bad.
  • Grapes – Jr. loves grapes, but I haven’t seen any organic grapes at the grocery store. I guess we’ll just skip grapes for now.
  • Kale and collard greens – I like to cook greens whenever I make BBQ ribs. That’s only 6-7 times per year so I’ll pony up the cash on those occasions. I guess there will be no more Kale chip experiments from Mrs. RB40.
  • Strawberries and Cherries – We can get these at our farmer’s market. We had an awesome cherry tree at our old house and I would definitely plant another one if we ever have a yard again. We also have a big strawberry patch in our community garden, but it’s tough to beat the birds, slugs, and other kids to the berries.
  • Celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, nectarines, peaches, and bell peppers – We don’t eat these often so it won’t break our budget to buy organic.
  • Summer squashes and hot peppers – We can grow these in our community garden.

Okay, so it looks like we have a good plan for produce except for grapes. We’ll eat more from the Clean Fifteen list and grow more produce in our community garden. Organic produce costs a little more, but I think it is still affordable for most families.

Dairy

Dairy is another category of food that kids consume a lot of. These days, farm animals are pumped full of antibiotics, hormones, and GMO feed. These chemicals make their way into dairy products and we’ll try to avoid it as much as we can.

  • Milk – Organic milk costs about twice as much as regular milk. We’ll shell out for this one because the kid drinks a gallon of milk every week. A gallon of organic milk costs $6 at Trader Joe’s.
  • Cheese – I haven’t seen much organic cheese so we’ll just stick with regular cheese for now. We don’t eat a lot of cheese so I don’t think it’s a big deal.
  • Yogurt – We buy a quart every other week and organic won’t impact our budget much. $3 at Trader Joe’s.
  • Eggs – Organic eggs are very expensive. A dozen regular eggs from Winco costs about $2. I think a dozen organic eggs at Trader Joe’s costs about $5. That’s a big difference. Jr. doesn’t really like eggs so I think we’ll stay with regular eggs for now. Once we have a yard, I’ll see if we can get a couple of egg laying hens.
  • Butter – I haven’t seen organic butter at the store.

This one is harder because organic dairy is much more expensive than regular. Our kid eats a lot of dairy, though, so we’ll just grit our teeth and bear the increased cost. I’ll also try to find organic butter and cheese.

Meat

Most cows, pigs, and chickens are full of hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified food, and other chemicals. Organically raised animals are treated more humanely and have less exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers. We aren’t willing to give up meat at this point, but we’ll try to eat more vegetarian meals this year.

  • Beef – “Ranged-raised without any antibiotics or growth stimulants, and finished on a diet without corn or other GMO grains” NY steak normally costs $16/pound at New Seasons Market, a local grocery chain. That’s more than twice as much as Winco. We also can usually pick up 30% off beef at our local Safeway and that is much cheaper than $16/pound. We don’t eat a lot of beef and probably will stay with non-organic cows for now.
  • Chicken – Organic chicken is much more affordable. Winco sells small whole organic chickens for about $7. That’s almost cheaper per pound than chicken breast portions. Trader Joe also has affordable organic chickens.
  • Pork – There are no organic pig farms in Oregon. The certification process is just too difficult and the cost to run an organic pig farm is too high. You just have to visit the local farm and see how they raise their animals or do some research online. We’ll stay with regular pigs for now and I will need to do more research here.
  • Fish and Seafood – We avoid farmed raised fish. Not sure what else we can do here.

I cook a lot of Asian food and meat is consumed in moderation, but it is still a significant portion of our expense. We do indulge in a rack of baby back ribs once in a while and I just enjoy it without thinking too much about organic on those occasions.

Tofu

Asians have been eating tofu as an alternative source of protein for centuries, but tofu seems to have picked up a bad rap recently.

  • Isoflavones in tofu mimic estrogen and may not be good for a kid and women. Moderate consumption of 1 to 2 servings per day should not increase breast cancer risk.
  • Most soybeans in the US are genetically modified. Go with organic if you’re worried about GMO.
  • Tofu can keep nutrients from other food from being absorbed. Phytates are one compound in tofu that can reduce calcium absorption.

I don’t think you need to worry about the negative effects unless you’re eating tofu 3 times a day. We eat a few servings of tofu per week and that’s very reasonable. Organic tofu costs just a little more than regular tofu so it’s not a big deal. RB40 Jr. enjoys tofu so it’s a good meat alternative for us. I read that tempeh is better than tofu so I’ll try that and see if we like it. We also probably should add more beans and lentils to our diet.

eat organic on frugal budget

Growing your own food is a great way to reduce cost.

Tips to reduce cost

Eating organic is clearly better, but not every family can buy all organic food all the time. If your budget is limited, then here are some tips to help you eat healthier.

  • Check sales – New Seasons has different items on sale every week. This week, the NY steak is $11/lb instead of $16. That’s not too bad.
  • Grow your own food – This is a great way to eat more organic. It’s tough in the winter, though.
  • Eat foods that are in season – Fruits and vegetables are more affordable when they are in season.
  • Cook your own food – We don’t buy much processed and frozen food. Cooking from scratch is healthier and it is generally cheaper even if you use organic ingredients.
  • Reduce consumption of high toxin product – like grapes. If you can’t afford organic, then an alternative is to cut out some of the Dirty Dozen and eat more from the clean fifteen list.
  • Coupon – This doesn’t really work for us because we don’t buy much processed food. It seems the coupons are only for snacks and prepared food.

Reduce toxins

While researching this article, I found some easy tips to reduce toxins. If you can’t eat mostly organic, then start with these steps.

  • Peel skin whenever possible
  • Wash and scrub produce
  • Discard the outer layer of leafy veggies
  • Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry – toxins collect in fat
  • Canned fruits and vegetables typically have less pesticide residuals because the canning process removes most of them.

Eating organic isn’t cheap

Eating more organic food isn’t cheap especially in the winter. It will be better in the summer once we can grow some vegetables in our community garden. We used to get everything from Winco, but now we mix in more expensive products from Trader Joe’s and New Seasons. Our grocery bill has gone up about 25%, but I think it’s worth it especially now that our kid eats regular food.

Do you eat organic? What’s your tip for eating organic on a budget? 

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

[email protected] January 17, 2014 at 1:40 am

Joe,
We don’t eat organic because I’m a big eater. We go to farmer’s markets though.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:04 am

Our farmer market is quite expensive. I feel like it cost about half way between regular food and organic food, but the quality is much better. I can’t wait until the farmer market opens again.

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Martin January 17, 2014 at 2:31 am

I struggle with this. I know that it is good for you, but it is way too expensive sometimes. I try to eat organic fruits and chicken as often as possible. Just wish it was more affordable.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:05 am

We were hesitant about organic too, but we need to do it for our kid. For grown ups, I think we can handle a little more toxins. Just avoid the worse stuff.

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Manuel January 17, 2014 at 4:57 am

Food is a tricky topic – especially organic food. In our family it plays a special role, so we have no budget restrictions for buying food. It’s the centre of life and the fuel for our bodies. You wont put cheap oil in your car, so you have to put good food into your body (I know, there is a difference between oil and fuel). Good food simply keeps us healthy, fit and alive. If food is full with pesticides (or hormones/medicine), it’s not good food.

We don’t break the bank on our food expenses. All included we pay maybe 250 Euro (about 340 $) per month.

Our best money saving tip: don’t eat too much meat. It’s expensive and our bodies don’t need it on a daily/weekly basis.

The higher price for milk is better for the farmer. He earns more money and can treat his cows better. Here in Bavaria we strongly support it that the farmer get’s more money for his milk. Also, if you don’t want to pay so much for organic eggs, buy free range. It’s simply better for the animals (I don’t know the exact laws for the US though).

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:09 am

Thanks for sharing. How big is your family? 250 Euro/month isn’t bad at all.
I think we spend about $450/month now that we are buying more organic.
We don’t eat a lot of meat. We usually eat about 4 oz per meal each with my Asian meals.
Free range in the US is controversial. Chickens have access to outdoor space, but they don’t really use it.
Pastured chickens are in vogue now, but I think the eggs cost $8 per dozen. Not affordable for most families.

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C. the Romanian January 17, 2014 at 5:18 am

I am also plan to eat more organic foods this year, but in the small city I live in here in Romania that’s very difficult. The only real option for organic foods is Dairy and the prices are lower (but not much lower) than those you shared. Still, for a Romanian’s budget, that is very expensive.

Where I live I haven’t seen any fresh vegetables or meat that are organic, and that clearly makes jumping on the organic bandwagon a LOT more difficult. We do try to compensate that with organic rice, pasta, brown sugar and Himalaya salt and a few other things that we can order over the internet, but I’d still love to taste a delicious organic apple… We used to purchase from the farmer markets thinking that they are a lot safer than the supermarket products, but we recently found out from a friend selling at the farmer market that they too use a ton of fertilizers and pesticides.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:12 am

Hopefully, you’ll have more options in the future. I’m sure the consumer will demand more and the stores will make a change soon.

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Justin @ Root of Good January 17, 2014 at 6:12 am

I’m a bit of a skeptic. We don’t usually pay up for organic since the “regular” option is so much less expensive.

We do, however, follow those tips you mention under “reduce toxins” like following good prepping and cleaning practices for fresh foods.

The “genetically modified” stuff doesn’t really spook me. After all, everything we eat is genetically modified. Consider corn, for example. It’s a modern result of hundreds or thousands of years of cultivation and human selection (dating back to the pre-colombian days of the Native Americans). Ancient peoples picked the biggest seed pods and kept those large specimens to plant the following year. Each year, the ancient farmers would pick the healthiest looking kernels to plant the following year. Year after year, humans “genetically modified” (by selection) the seed stock to continually improve one or more qualities of the plants.

Today we have large ripe, juicy, sweet kernels of corn that are derived from grasses. If you want to go orthodox non-GMO, find some nearby native grasses and chow down! In the meantime, pass the butter and salt. I have some sweet corn on the cob to devour. :)

I could go on an on. I think there might be some merit in avoiding the most chemically absorptive vegetables and fruits (potatoes?) but overall I think eat bite of organic produce is 90% marketing and 10% potential health benefits.

You’ll be much healthier overall if you eat tons of non-organic produce and avoid processed foods (instead of buying smaller amounts of organic produce and falling back on cheap processed foods to fill out your menu). Paying much higher prices for organics will likely deter you from maxing your consumption of healthy fruits and vegs.

I’m definitely much more likely to buy a basket full of fresh non-organic produce when it’s only $0.50-$1.00/lb but I won’t be buying as much if it is $2.00-$3.00/lb.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:18 am

That was how we felt before our kid started eating more regular food. I think milk and apples are definitely worth it. Meat is hard because it is so expensive.
GMO isn’t a huge deal to me either. The only one that I’m really care about is tofu and it’s not much more expensive than regular tofu.
I agree that eating more produce is better overall, but you have to pick and choose. You don’t want to eat a ton of food from the dirty dozen list, right? A lot of the toxins are soaked into the fruits and veggies.

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Svetlana N July 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I totally agree with you that selectively breeding has been awesome for us, but the GMOs present in our food sources today often go way beyond that, going further than it naturally would go. That’s the difference. The way our bodies process these items is drastically different from the way we process organic bananas that have been selectively bred into what they are today. The chemical and molecular compounds produced by modern practices are not what we were ever intended to digest and use as fuel. There are many studies that do show a correlation between eating processed and GMO foods and an increase in preventable chronic illness and diseases. Just some food for thought (lol). I am in the medical field and as part of my licensure I have to keep up on current findings and complete CEUs on health related topics, and I am constantly finding our choice to go (mostly) organic validated with new research/unpublished research. I don’t want to come off as a pest about the issue, but I would love to see greater health among the populations I serve! You are what you eat. Trust me!

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Steven January 17, 2014 at 6:17 am

Eating Organic, Paleo, Vegan, or for the most part any specialized diet is going to raise the meter on your grocery bill. It has to do with what you make a priority. This statement by you here “I think it’s worth it especially now that our kid eats regular food” says it all. I want to eat healthier for my kids. Many people will do this because of health, weight loss, mother nature, etc which are all good causes. I think if people spend more on something I’d rather have it be there health, so kudos and good luck keeping that grocery bill low from the guy who prefers grass-fed beef!

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 7:19 am

Thanks for your input. Grass fed beef is so expensive. $16/lb is not affordable for most families. I’ll try to pick some up on sales. We don’t eat a lot of beef so I guess we could go either way. I also don’t like to buy ground meat so that more affordable option is out.

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Tyler January 17, 2014 at 8:28 am

We buy whole cows, grass fed, from local 4h/FFA families. These can be the ones they decide not to show at a fair or if you like to support the kids the grand champions from the fair (premium price). We split this with my parents and in-laws. Total cost is usually right around $3/lb. Our ground beef is 98/2 super lean. The steaks and roasts are always great as well. Having a good butcher who is willing/has the space to hang the meat for the time needed to age it is also key. We have found some like to rush the process. Our freezer is full of frozen fruit and vegetables from our garden along with fish (salmon) from friends who love fishing but do not eat fish.

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Rajneesh January 17, 2014 at 7:20 am
retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:00 am

They are talking about swapping out junk food for healthy food. We don’t eat a lot of junk food or soda so it doesn’t really apply.

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Cristin @ Eve of Reduction January 17, 2014 at 7:35 am

We choose organic for food that’s grown in the ground – like carrots, potatoes and peanut butter.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 9:15 am

I read that organic peanut butter is not worth it. Peanut doesn’t retain much toxin. Carrots and potatoes, yes.

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Julie Moses February 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

The thing to watch out for peanut butter on is high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil. The “natural” versions are not much more expensive than their counterparts. They use real sugar and palm oil. Better than the non-natural counterpart, but best is homemade if you have the time and inclination. Not sure as to the cost effectiveness however. BTW Trader Joes carries a brand name of butter called Kerry Gold. Not “organic” per se, but comes from grass fed cows. Costs just a little more than regular butter.

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Roy January 17, 2014 at 7:44 am

In my experience, if I can’t find organic butter, I make my own. Buy organic cream from Trader Joe’s and put it into a blender/food processor and blitz for a few minutes until the cream turns from liquid to whip cream to butter. Once the cream separates, voila, you have organic butter! The whole process takes maybe 10 mins.

Recently got into reading your blog, really great material. Thanks for sharing your personal finance tips!

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 9:15 am

Thanks for the tips. I’ll get Mrs. RB40 right on it. :)
The food processor isn’t my tool.

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Mom @ Three is Plenty January 17, 2014 at 8:13 am

One inexpensive way to get grass-fed, humanely raised beef is to buy a part of a cow. It’s not that easy unless you’ve got a freezer to store the excess in, but if you can find a local farmer willing to sell you 1/8-1/4 of a cow, it will fit in a “standard” over the fridge freezer if packaged well (although not much else will…). You usually have to go in with 8-4 other families and “buy” the whole cow and divy it up.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 9:17 am

We live in a small condo so we don’t have any storage space. We also don’t eat that much beef. We probably wouldn’t finish 1/8 of a cow in a year…

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Quark January 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I live in a 300sq ft studio and I have a 7 cu.ft. chest freezer. I still have plenty of room.

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:01 am

For 1/8 cow? I imagine that takes up much more than 7 cu.ft. Not really sure, though.

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davidmichael January 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

One of the great things about living in Oregon is the abundance of fresh, organic produce. Farmers Markets in Eugene or Portland are amazing sources of organic veggies and now even chicken and beef. Personally we have mostly switched to a plant based diet over the past few years with occasional fish or chicken. Our grocery bill runs about $500 a month for two, although we could cut it down to $400 without the frills. We have several friends whose food supply come from local organic farms delivered directly to their house for a six month or 12 month contract. We belong to a community garden and get much of our veggies and fruit by contributing 4-6 hours a week.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

We have a great community garden and it’s a great source of organic produce. I like our farmer market too, but the price is usually pretty high. I think as we get older, I’d like to move to a more plant based diet. I’ll need to convince Mrs. RB40, though.

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Daizy January 17, 2014 at 8:54 am

My sister’s family used to buy 4H animals for meat. I don’t know the cost but she considered it a worthy cause. You need a sub-zero freezer to hold it all though unless you share. I’m attempting to raise quail for eggs and meat (if I can bring myself to kill them). I get my first birds this weekend. I’ve read that they are the rabbits of the bird world. Easy to keep and multiply. I live in town so I didn’t want chickens. I also want to try aquaponics to raise fish and vegetables at the same time. I’m going to start out small with goldfish instead of Tilapia to see if I can create a successful system.

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retirebyforty January 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

Good luck with the quails. Can you just keep them in the backyard or do you need enclosed space? We can have 2 hens if we have space. Wow, fish too? I think that might be tough. I haven’t heard of that. Good luck with everything!

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Daizy January 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I’ve read that they need 1 sq.ft. per bird. People usually keep them in rabbit hutch-like cages. I have seen other people keep them outdoors or in a shed. I hope they will be happy in cages on my covered porch all year long. I’m in Arizona. The wild quail around here don’t seem to mind the weather. The aquaponics thing, I just learned about a few weeks ago. After reading that it uses 90% less water than normal gardening and it could be done indoors, I was willing to give it a try. Trying to nurse my garden through an Arizona Summer is not fun.

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Done by Forty January 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

When we visit my mom in California, I always make it a point to shop at Winco. It is the perfect store for my frugal shopping style.

There are a few things that we buy organic (greens for salads, some fruits & veggies) but others we don’t (like meat, typically). I figure food is one of those areas where it’s all a matter of degrees on how well you do with it…progress, not perfection, and all that.

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:03 am

I agree. It’s just too expensive to buy everything organic. We’ll just try to do what we can with our budget.

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Kurt @ Money Counselor January 17, 2014 at 11:37 am

I like to eat organic, but can’t justify the price sometimes. I do a couple of things: 1) try to spend my organic budget on the stuff I eat most, and 2) focus on the incremental cost per serving rather than per lb or package. For example, I eat lots of oatmeal, and I buy organic exclusively. Organic oatmeal can cost 2 or 3x the cheap stuff, BUT the 1/2-cup of dry organic oatmeal that makes a good-sized cooked serving costs only about a dime more than the cheap stuff. My frugal side can ‘stomach’ just 10 cents more per serving for organic!

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

That’s a good strategy. I haven’t read much about organic oatmeal. I’ll try to do a little more research. Buying in bulk probably is much cheaper than the prepackaged stuff, right?

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Maverick January 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I have the space for chickens. It’s just that when I go on vacation, who is going to want to feed my chickens? :)

BTW, did you see that Intel just announced another 5% reduction in force and no growth in 2014? I feel better about increasing my cash holdings for now.

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:05 am

You can eat them before going on vacation. I heard that they stop laying eggs after a few years, but live like 9 years. Don’t get attached to them. :)
I didn’t see the 5% reduction. I’ll check it out. Thanks.

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Rajneesh January 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Couple of things we do to eat healthy:

Try to buy Organic whenever possible, we buy groceries from Shoprite they do have organic section but its very limited. In summers there is weekly Farmers market in city where we like (Bayonne NJ) and we try to buy produce from there. We also have one local shop which sells natural/organic stuff (johns-natural-foods), we buy our brown rice, dry fruits, breads from there.

Try to cook at home. We love cooking and try to cook everyday at home.

We are vegetarians and eat lot of lentils, beans and nuts.

Eat healthy if you have to eat out. We have organic cafe in our city (andrews-project), so even when we are eating out we try to order from them. We also like Thai food.

We eat lot of yougurt and have started making yogurt at home using organic milk. Its really easy and all natural.

Try to avoid processed food. I use app called Fooducated (on android), its really nice helps us buy healthy food at super stores, you just scan item it it tells you if its GMO or not and how its rated. We eat natural snacks/cereals only.

(ps: this is third time i am entering comment, not sure what happened to last 2, no error message)

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:10 am

I think being a vegetarian reduce the cost by a whole bunch. Meat is just expensive. That app sounds like a great tool. This year, we are snacking more on nuts and cheese. We do eat some packaged snacks, but will try to reduce that.
The previous messages went to the spam folder. I think there are too many links.

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payitoff January 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

now im getting pressured to go organic.. ive been contemplating this for a very long time now, hello budget 2014

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:11 am

You can try a little at a time. Maybe start with the dirty dozen and see how it goes.

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Michelle January 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I basically eat organic. I purchase my meat from Whole Foods and am looking to switch to a butcher. For me eating well helps keep me healthy and out of the hospital. I am also going into my 2nd year growing food through a Community Garden program in Denver. I think it’s important to have a meal plan so that you don’t overspend. Having a meal plan is KEY.

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

We plan our meals and it’s been very helpful. Whole Foods is so expensive so I haven’t gone in for a couple of years. Maybe it’s time to check back…

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Erin @ My Alternate Life January 18, 2014 at 3:10 am

I honestly don’t buy organic anything unless it’s on a better sale than non-organic stuff which is basically never. It’s something to think about for sure, but I am hesitant to spend that much extra money.

When I have kids that may change though :)

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Kids make you look a life so much differently. :)

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Moneycone January 18, 2014 at 4:04 am

For us it is Trader Joe’s and the local farmers market! While the farmers market isn’t certified, at least the produce is fresh!

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm

I can’t wait for the farmer market to open again.

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nicoleandmaggie January 18, 2014 at 10:56 am

I bet you have a lot of CSA options in your area! That’s the easiest way to eat organic cheaply most places. http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

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retirebyforty January 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Thanks for the tips. I’ll check around for an affordable CSA. They seem quite expensive, but at least we’ll be supporting the local farms.

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Bryce @ Save and Conquer January 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Good tips. I was glad to see you point out that growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get organic produce. Farmers’ Markets are often the next best thing for getting organic produce at a good price. The best time to shop at the Farmers’ Market is in the last half hour before closing. That’s when vendors are most willing to haggle.

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Margit January 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I usually just grow most of my own organic veggies but I support our local farmers when I need to purchase what I can’t produce. I volunteer at a local organic farm for eggs and chickens. Farmers are very generous if you show up when you say you will, do what they ask you to do and let them learn they can trust you.

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retirebyforty January 22, 2014 at 8:43 am

That’s a great idea. I’ll keep that option in mind when I have a little more time.

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Evan January 21, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Do you have any trader joes near you? I have found they are a fantastic mid-range option for organic food without breaking the bank. In NY we don’t have any WinCos so I can’t compare

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mary w January 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Do you have Spouts up there? Maybe just a southwest store. They also have a few organic items on sale so they are as cheap as “regular” prices on non-organice produce.

Costco is another source for decent prices on organic items.

For yogurt, figure out if its cheaper to make your own from organic milk. If so, its very easy to make and doesn’t have any sugar or additives.

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retirebyforty January 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm

We don’t have Spouts up here. We have some co op stores and I need to check them out. I think the price is pretty high.
I’ll try making yogurt. Thanks for the tips.

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Becky February 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

In the last few years, we have become 80% vegetarians. By that percentage, I mean we don’t actually purchase meat.We started with meatless Mondays and gradually progressed to meat maybe once a week. If meat is served at a pot luck , we might have a taste.

The best food tip given to us was to buy a basket each week from bountitfulbaskets.org
You receive 2 baskets , 1 fruit one veggie. My husband and I split those baskets with a friend. You cant beat the price $ 15 (organic $25) and the surprise factor each week has provided a wide variety of new options. It’s not available everywhere, but worth looking into.

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retirebyforty February 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

That’s great. We are eating more vegetarian meals, but we don’t want to give up meat at this point. Maybe a bit later. $25/week isn’t bad at all. I’ll check the site. Thanks for the tip.

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Svetlana N July 2, 2014 at 4:40 am

Hey! Fellow Oregonian here! I would like to reiterate that eating organic is a MUCH better choice, and for more reasons than are initially obvious. Here are a couple places I have found to help our budget out immensely:

Grocery Outlet. Do not be afraid! I don’t know why people get weird about shopping here. I shop here weekly (for 8+ yr now) and have never EVER encountered an expired product. Here are some of the items I always look for: organic cereals, organic dairy, organic broth- all kinds!, organic soups, organic olive oil, organic pasta sauce, organic juice, organic spring salad mix, organic black beans/garbanzo beans/etc, Amy’s and Annie’s items, organic frozen veggies, organic teas, organic chips/cookies, etc etc. They don’t always have the same stuff, but they never let me down for some amazing deals on organic items. Ie: a quart of organic free range chicken broth for $1.29.

Costco has organic chicken drumsticks for $1.99 a pound, and amazing deals on fresh organic carrots and organic frozen veggies. If you aren’t a member, you can shop with a friend who is, you just have to pay with cash (maybe debit too?)

Fred Meyer has Simple Truth Organic Milk for 5.29 per gallon. I always buy the whole milk, but they also have skim,1%,2%. Sometimes they marl down the ones close to the sell buy date to $2.39! Such a steal! We have never had milk go bad, but we also go through it quickly!

Hope this helps some peeps out!

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retirebyforty July 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I haven’t been to Grocery Outlet for ages. I don’t think there is one near us. I’ll check them out next time I’m in the vicinity. Sounds great for stocking up the pantry.
Trader Joe’s also has $1.99 organic drumsticks. I just don’t like Costco. It’s always too busy in there and I buy way more stuff than I need.
Thanks for the tips!

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Svetlana N July 2, 2014 at 4:43 am

Oh and I meant to mention: Costco has a pretty sweet deal on organic butter!

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Svetlana N July 2, 2014 at 5:01 am

Sorry – also wanted to tell you that Winco happens to be the place I will always go out of my way to visit JUST for their bulk organic rolled oats. I saw a reader mention it above but minus the Winco part. I tend to have a hard time finding much else at Winco along the lines of organic yet budget-friendly. (However, my huge weakness, Pepperidge Farms cookies are a steal here compared with other stores. They’re decidedly processed and absolutely not organic in any way, but I DREAM about these puppies.)

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