When life started to get crazy last fall with my health we (begrudgingly) decided to start transitioning into an organic diet/lifestyle. There was some hesitation/resistance only because I had just mastered the world of couponing and was able to provide our household with AMPLE food/supplies on a shoestring budget ($50/week). I’m talking an 80%+ savings on EVERY grocery trip. #ilovecoupons
BUT with my doctor’s suggestion, my own common sense, and some research on the best diets for endometriosis… The road to ORGANIC began.
We have since embraced it. It’s difficult and we are not perfect. Are we 100% organic? Ha. Yeah right. I’d say we’re about 70-80%. We allow ourselves to ‘cheat’ and if there’s something we need in the house, but can’t afford the organic version, then we will just buy the conventional product.
Side Note — I use the word “conventional” when referring to the average person’s groceries because the word “normal” just doesn’t work. There’s nothing normal about ingesting a laundry list of chemicals for no damn reason when there’s “real food” available.
So that’s the basic rundown as far as the “why” of going organic. Our health.
HOW? How does a newlywed couple drowning in medical bills afford to eat organic when anything that is certified organic has an inflated price that’s 3-4x the conventional product’s price… Ugh. It’s difficult. It’s taken some time to figure out how to make it work. And there are definitely times where we have to decide whether we buy the grass-fed and organic meats or make do with what we have left in the freezer. I’ve become queen of making a tiny bit of food turn into a meal that lasts us three days.
GET CREATIVE with your shopping. Yes, we shop at the specialty health food stores. But we have also found many organic products at local discount grocery stores (read expiration dates), Big Lots, conventional grocery stores… Even home goods stores (TJMaxx, Marshall’s, etc).
COUPON as much as possible and DON’T get picky! Yes! Organic coupons exist! Once every couple of weeks or once a month I go on to my favorite organic coupon websites and throw a printing party. For us, it’s been worth the ink, paper and time. Anything and everything that I could ever imagine us eating or using, we print. We shop based on what coupons we have. If we have a coupon for a specific kind of cracker/chips/etc then we buy THAT. Not what our “favorite” is. We explore new foods often. We don’t get picky. If we want ice cream and only have a coupon for a specific brand/flavor then we only buy that. It’s actually been kind of fun. We’re always trying new things.
Here are some of my favorite sites. If you know of any more, please leave a comment!
- http://www.organicdeals.com/ — #1 resource for organic deals/coupons!
- http://www.commonkindness.com/coupons — My favorite site!
- http://www.coupons.com — MOSTLY conventional foods/products. They do offer organic products occasionally though. You just have to sort through the junk!
SIGN UP for every newsletter… On every organic brand’s website… LIKE everything on Facebook. MOST organic brands have coupons on their website, Facebook and newsletters. This is much more tedious than utilizing the websites I listed above but WELL worth it. My favorite brand/website is Earthbound Farms — https://www.ebfarm.com/
While my couponing these days doesn’t amount to the awesomeness you see above… We’re still saving money. Roughly 20% off each grocery trip. 20% is nothing to sneeze at. Sigh. It’s not 80%. BUT THAT’S OKAY. We are spending money on staying healthy and that is so worth every penny.
Let’s talk a little bit about getting creative. We live in a small town that loves discount grocery stores. Seriously. There’s like three within a 2 mile radius. Most of the time the food is expired so I tend to pass that up. But when I find a product that is in date and is selling for much less than it’s retail value, I buy it. I buy ALL of it. Well. Not all. I usually leave a couple items on the shelf as good karma. For example, our local discount grocery store had organic lemonade for $1.37 per bottle (glass bottle). That lemonade is normally $5 per bottle! So I bought all of them. They don’t expire until 2015. I’ll never be able to find that price again. Ever. I think I ended up buying 20 bottles.
MATH TIME – 20 bottles at $1.37 each is $27.40 total. Kind of a lot to spend on lemonade… Until you realize that buying 20 bottles at the retail value of $5 would have been a total of $100.
Our grocery budget these days is $60/week. So $27.40 was half of our budget that week. I had to be creative with what we had in our pantry to get us to the next week. It’s worth it though because I’d rather spend half of our budget on one random item and slowly build up our pantry with Organic goodness that I never paid full price for. We’ve been doing that long enough now that we have a pretty nice looking pantry with a wide variety of goods.
Another example was a shopping trip we took to Big Lots this weekend. Yes, Big Lots. I had NO IDEA they had organic food! They were having their huge 20% OFF EVERYTHING in the store sale so I went over to check it out… just in case. Ohhh I am so glad that I did.
I got $500+ worth of groceries for $180 (give or take a couple bucks). WHAT?! I’m not lying. Two carts full and two very very very very long receipts. 90% of the food I purchased was organic and/or GMO free. The prices listed below are rough calculations after the 20% discount.
- 18 bags of chips – $1.50/ea
- 15 boxes of cereal – $2/ea
- 2 boxes of cookies – $1.80/ea
- 2 boxes of bars – $2.10/ea
- 1 box of crackers – $2.30
- 8 bags of brown rice – $0.60/ea <– Not organic but OMG 60 CENTS for a bag of brown rice?!
- 6 bags of granola – $2.05/ea
- 1 bag of oats – $3
- 1 bag of hot cereal – $3
- 8 boxes of tea – $2.70/ea
- 2 jars of salsa – $2.30/ea
- 14 cans of soup – $0.80/ea <– ORGANIC SOUP FOR 80 CENTS. Unheard of. Seriously. This stuff retails for $3-4.
- 15 cans of assorted veggies/beans – $0.80/ea <– Again, OMG. Amazing.
- 14 cans of tomato sauce – $0.80/ea <– Life is good.
- 12 bottles of tea – $0.80/ea
- 4 containers of veggie broth – $1.30/ea
- 6 containers of chicken broth – $1.80/ea
- 4 containers of creamy celery soup – $1.80/ea
While the chips probably won’t even last two weeks (#welovechips) the rest will last us months and months, saving us a TON in the long run.
So that’s how we do it. We get creative, we use coupons, we buy in bulk, we research savings. We are still learning. And we feel GOOD!