One of the biggest complaints I hear when talking with folks about saving using coupons is that coupons are only for processed foods. While I agree that there are loads of processed food coupons out there, there are also deals to be had on healthier, non-processed foods (you just have to work a little harder for the deals!) Here's how to save on organic food:
1. Know your best organic prices on meat and poultry purchases.
Organic meat and poultry are priced much higher than regular meat, so it's so important that you take the time to do a little research and make sure you're getting the best sale prices when purchasing organic meat for your family. Here's an idea of what stock up prices you need to watch for (note that these will vary some by area.)
- Organic Whole Chicken $2.49/lb (compare to $.89-$1.29/lb for non-organic – these prices are pretty regularly found at Costco)
- Organic Chicken Legs $2.99/lb (compare to $.79 – $.99/lb for non-organic – Trader Joes actually has organic chicken legs priced at $2.99/lb this week)
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $4.49-$5.49/lb. (compare to $1.79/lb for non-organic)
- Organic Ground Beef $5.49/lb – $6.49/lb (compare to $2.99-$3.99/lb for non-organic, Aldi carries it for around $5.99-$6.99/lb depending on your area)
Also don't forget to watch meat markdowns on organics. I recently scored organic whole chickens for $.79/lb because they were nearing their expiration date. I went home and immediately cooked them, so we had plenty of organic chicken pre-cooked at an incredible price.
2. Purchase fruit and veggies when they're in season.
You'll find drastic savings on produce when you purchase it during it's peak season. Shop seasonally (find when to stock up over HERE), and make sure to know your stock up prices on produce as well. Here are the prices you want to watch for:
- Organic Apples $1.29 – $1.99/lb (compare to $.99/lb for non-organic – Fresh Thyme and Sprouts actually have organic apples for $.99/lb this week)
- Organic Avocados $1.25
- Organic Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) $2.98/6 oz container
- Organic Celery $1.49 per bunch (compare to $.79-$.99/bunch for non-organic)
- Organic Cucumbers $.99 – $1.25 each
- Organic Grapes $2.49/lb (compare to $.99/lb for non-organic)
- Organic Lettuce bunch $2 (compare to $1 for non-organic
- Organic Peaches & Pears $1.79 – $1.99/lb (compare to $.99/lb for non-organic)
- Organic Plums $1.99/lb (compare to $.99/lb for non-organic)
- Organic Potatoes $1.49/lb (compare to $.79 – $.99 for non-organic)
- Organic Red or Yellow Bell Peppers $1.49-$1.79 each (compare to $.79-$.99 each for non-organic, Fresh Thyme has organic peppers for $.99 each this week!)
- Organic Tomatoes $1.49/lb (compare to $.99/lb for non-organic)
Note: I've found the best price by far on organic salad mix at Kroger where they have a HUGE container for $3.99. I eat a salad every day for lunch and this package lasts me about 10 days (and stays fresh!)
3. Shop the frozen section for organic produce.
Organic frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh produce, so if you're looking for something specific check out your frozen organic section before paying too much.
4. Take advantage of Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Sprouts or other specialty grocers if you have them nearby.
While the pricing at most of these stores is typically pretty high on regular groceries, if you pay close attention to their weekly sales flier you can save a bundle. Several of these stores offer extra coupons and bonus perks, so be sure to take a few minutes to check out their websites to see what they offer. Here are direct links to some coupons at these stores you don't want to miss:
Fresh Thyme & Sprouts are my all time favorite stores to find great prices on organic produce (their prices are incredible!), and both stores offer “double ad” sale days on the day the new sale starts. Plan your trips accordingly so you can save on twice as much produce when you're there.
And of course, don't miss the organic savings at Aldi. Aldi has just started a huge line of organic meat, produce, and groceries, and if you don't have time to head to a jillion stores to get every deal you can easily save when you're there.
5. Consider getting involved with a local produce box swap.
You can join a local produce co-op in your area to stock up on local grown organic and produce meat. Not sure how to get started? Go HERE to learn more.
6. Amazon and other online retailers can be great resources for some gluten free and organic foods.
I'm amazed at all the food items available from Amazon, and if you get start using Swagbucks, you can use your “Swag money” to get Amazon items for free! (It does get a little more difficult, but lately I've purchased all my peanut butter from Amazon using free gift cards from Swagbucks, and it's been shipped right to my door with free shipping and no tax. Love that!)
7. Plant a garden.
We've had a tiny garden in our back yard, and with just that little garden we hardly ever have to purchase store bought spaghetti sauces, or even items like green peppers or beans because we grow them in the summertime and freeze them for the winter. Don't forget you can freeze produce when it's in season at the best price so that you don't pay more than your stock up price during the winter months.
8. Make a menu plan.
You can buy all the organic foods in the world, but if you don't create a menu plan and use them, you've spent a lot of money with nothing to show for it. Be sure to make and stick to your menu plan so that what you purchase never goes to waste!
9. Don't waste food.
If you buy something and end up not using it quickly enough, be sure to cook it or freeze it. If you have leftover chicken, freeze the leftovers and use them to make chicken chili. Leftover meat? Save it for Taco Tuesday. When you're paying such a high price for food, you want to make sure every ounce of it gets eaten up!
10. Call your local farmer.
I've heard several folks mention that they're local farmers offer better prices on meat that you purchase directly from them. Consider purchasing a portion of a cow, organic eggs at your local farmer, or poultry from them as well. You'll likely get better quality food at the best price.
11. Know what organic means and when it's worth it.
According to the USDA site, certified organic foods are USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible. (Credit USDA.gov blog.) This means the food is grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, as well as meat raised without antibiotics or hormones.
In all honesty, buying all organic food is just expensive. There are some foods which are less likely to take on pesticide residue, so if you're trying to choose what to buy organic and what not to buy, these are a few which you may consider purchasing non-organic to save some money:
- sweet potatoes
And here are some that have high pesticide residues so you'll want to watch for savings in the organic produce section:
- bell peppers