Sticking to a budget is hard, especially if you have a penchant for organic fruits and veggies. The good news: demand for organic products is growing and big retailers like Target are getting in on the action, expanding their selection of organic grocery items. To further stretch your dollar at the register check out these helpful tips and tricks to get more out of your organic budget.
1. Know your Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
Every year, the Environmental Working Group examines pesticide residue on conventional produce, and compile a list of the 15 cleanest (least amount of detectable pesticides) and the 12 dirtiest (highest amount of detectable pesticides). Knowing these fruits and veggies can help you decide where to invest a little extra for the organic variety. This year, carrots, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and mangoes were all at the top of clean list, ranking very low on the pesticide scale. Strawberries, spinach, peaches, kale, and collard and mustard greens topped the other list – so that’s where you definitely want to go organic.
2. Buy in season.
Produce is priced according to its availability, so those sweet summer berries will be mega affordable in the next season. Stock up because come winter, their prices will sky rocket. You can use this infographic to get a good idea of what’s in season at different times of the year.
3. Bring your produce back to life to make them go further.
It’s possible, we promise! If your veggies outlive their expected expiration, but look like they’re on their way out, you can revive them with a simply cold water rinse. This tactic works best with leafy greens and carrots, when submerged in cold water for 30 – 60 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how effective this little bath will be for perking up your veggies.
4. Be a strategic grocery shopper & buy ingredients as you need them.
Following all the rules will help you save money here, too. Don’t shop on an empty stomach, plan your meals ahead of time, and stick to the list. If you’re able to hit the store more than once a week, shop for what you need for just a few days, which will help you avoid over-buying foods.
5. Grow your own.
If you have the space, a small garden can go a long way. Cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes are all easy growers that you can use all summer long. For smaller spaces, herbs can be grown on windowsills.
6. Keep your eyes open.
Watch for sales in your favorite organic retailers, and check weekly mailers for coupons. It’s good to price-compare among different stores. And some retailers now have their own store-brand organic label for a little less of the cost.
7. Buy in bulk & store properly.
This can be tricky if you don’t have the space, but if you do – it can pay off. Freeze or can produce for when it is no longer in season. Or split the product with a friend and it’s a win-win. By storing your produce properly, you’ll be less prone to discovering your lettuce has wilted or fruit is bruised. Produce likes humidity, so storing in sturdy plastic bags or glass containers with lids, and be sure to remove any damaged or rotting leaves/berries as they will likely spread to the rest, more quickly.
8. Aim for healthy organic food first.
It can be tempting to stock up on organic treats, and we often trick ourselves into believing they are healthier than conventional junk food, but that’s rarely the case. Healthy food will keep you fuller longer and be far more useful than any junk food you can buy.