or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Torn between frugality and organics when grocery shopping ...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Torn between frugality and organics when grocery shopping ...

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

I swear, only I could give myself a headache over groceries!  I try so hard to buy healthy food for my family.  But we're trying to become debt free, and even buying flour is a huge debate for me.

 

So ... where do you draw the line?  What will you go totally cheap and store-brand on, and where will you spend the extra money?  If you shop at Save-a-Lot or Aldi, what do you buy there?

post #2 of 46

We're on a tight budget but I still don't skimp on food quality. I'm a firm believer in that what we put into our bodies will determine quite a bit about our health and happiness and that's not something I'm willing to compromise on. That said, there have been times in the past where I had absolutely no choice but to not purchase organics and such, but when my income increased that was one of the first things I addressed. Can you find other places to buy the pricier organic/natural products? We have a Mars store nearby that has a clearance produce rack and I've bought organic veggies there for less than half price. Have you tried buying some items, like the flour, in bulk? Maybe going in on a large order with someone would be worth it. I hope my post doesn't sound rude, I completely understand about trying to reduce costs (I spent most of 2009 unemployed and on food stamps). I just get very, very passionate about having access to healthy foods. Unfortunately my best finds have been from going to local stores and finding things like the produce clearance rack, checking clearance sections a lot, etc. It isn't the most efficient way of doing things though.

 

 

 

 

post #3 of 46

I buy organics when I'm buying the "dirty dozen": http://green.yahoo.com/blog/daily_green_news/332/the-new-dirty-dozen-12-foods-to-eat-organic-and-avoid-pesticide-residue.html

(except potatoes, which I manage to overlook).

 

We also basically stopped eating meat for frugality reasons, and when we do buy meat (as a treat) we buy organic, free-range, anti-biotic free yadda yadda. Our grocery bill is still about half what it used to be, even with the organic stuff.

 

I can't afford organic dairy, and I don't bother with organic grains, generally. DH gets unlimited organic coffee beans free from work.

 

I have lived in places where organics weren't available, and then I was basically content to know I was eating healthy, whole foods, no convenience stuff, no junk food, no HFCS, minimal white flour/white sugar. Those changes made me feel better enough that I didn't stress on not being able to get organic stuff.

post #4 of 46

I do most of my shopping at Meijer and costco...but I do frequent Aldi's (I have a special Aldi's quarter in my van! lol). 

 

We go thru a gallon of milk in a day....day and half.  I don't buy organic milk...I'd have to take a second morgage out if I did at $6/gallon.  I do buy the milk at Meijer that is antiboitic free.   I get canned good at Aldi, but only corn....and rice mixes.  But I don't get them often as I prefer to just serve pasta or potatoes I've made in some form instead of a box mix w/tons of preservatives.   

Aldi's actually has decent stuff (IMO) for lunches.  I buy the fit and active fruit strips (no artifical coloring or HFCS), I'll grab the 100% juice, or bananas.   I love their chicken salad...totally full of things I can't pronounce, but I think I'll be okay since I'm the only one that eats it on the occasion I buy it.  I like their ciabatta bread, string cheese, bagged salads.   Oh and rice krispies b/c DH loves those the most.   ;)  And frozen veggies

 

I can't afford only organic, and we do eat meat.   I read labels and if I can't pronounce most of the list, I don't buy it.  I buy more fresh food.   10 lb bags of taters instead of box mixes.    I have a variety of pasta in the pantry.   

 

I do buy only organic fruit, and I heard a rule of thumb that if you eat the skin (apples, berries...etc) to go organic.  

 

I revamped how we eat.   I spend more time in the kitchen, b/c I make more things from scratch.   No sloppy joe mix from a can, box taters or pasta, no mac and cheese (on occasion! and it's good ol' kraft).   I'll serve a salad quite often also.   I buy a huge tub of yogurt and smash fruit and add honey or brown sugar instead of the little cups.   I serve fruit or toast or organic eggs for breakfast instead of cereal.   You want dessert...have a purred fruit popsiscle I just made.   Or strawberries w/fresh whip cream.  

I'm also looking into buying a half grass fed cow.  

post #5 of 46

Lately, I have been capitulating on the organic produce. Unfortunately, prices have been soaring to the extent where organics really are way more expensive, so it's either standard fruit & veg or nothing...so that was a clear choice. I've also been poring over the flyers and shopping the sales, buying in bulk when things are cheap and, despite the inconvenience, shopping at different stores for different items. They don't really do coupons where I am, but if they did, I'd consider that too. Oh, and Costco. I had many lines in the sand about Costco previously: like I wouldn't buy meat there, or fruit/veg (because I don't know where it's from). But now? I'm buying whatever I can there if it's cheaper. I'm also making all my own bread now (so I hear you on the flour, I'm waiting for that sale, waiting, waiting, waiting!) & that saves quite a bit.

post #6 of 46

I posted the "dirty dozen" link earlier, but this one's good too: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Save-on-Sustainable-Gallery-44032808?link=rel&dom=yah_green&src=syn&con=slide&mag=tdg

"The Clean 15" - foods to worry less about.

post #7 of 46


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenni1894 View Post

We go thru a gallon of milk in a day....day and half.  I don't buy organic milk...I'd have to take a second morgage out if I did at $6/gallon. 




Argh. So true. It tastes so good, though. I would buy it occasionally when I was single, and it tasted so much... milkier.

post #8 of 46

I'm on a super-limited budget right now, and I still buy mostly organic.  I compensate for the extra cost by making most things from scratch.  There have been times, however, where I don't even have enough to really shop for conventional stuff...and I stick to the bare minimum, and not organic. 

 

Oddly, I feel more comfortable buying non-organic when it is on some crazy cheap special...I resent paying full price otherwise.  I don't resent though paying more for organic because it does cost more to produce, and I do believe farmers should be compensated fairly.

 

 

post #9 of 46

I try to look at organics as a form of health insurance, but sometimes the price is just too expensive for us. We are on a very limited budget and I use coupons when I find them (not that often, unfortunately). I do try to make sure to go organic on the Dirty Dozen and even have them on a small piece of paper in my wallet for easy reference. I try to make as much as possible from scratch. Since I make all our bread/grain items, I do go with unprocessed unbleached flour like King Arthur, even though it's not really organic (but it is somewhat local).

 

Go with your gut on the organic stuff. Buying organic strawberries is a much higher priority than buying organic cotton Q-Tips, at least to me...

post #10 of 46

I only buy organic if it's the same price or cheaper as non-organic, and if it looks just as fresh or fresher.  My opinion is that it's more important to pick nutritious foods-- whether organic or not-- than to just concentrate on the organic label.  I buy generic store brand all the time, especially for frozen veggies.

post #11 of 46

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110421082519.htm

 

The cost we have to pay for organics is far more important to us and we simply cuts costs on other non-food items.

post #12 of 46

Boy oh boy is this thread timely for me! I have been feeling the same way over groceries. Sometimes I wish I didn't know what I know about organics, GMO's and the like.

 

Here are the things I will not compromise on purchasing, no if's and's or but's:

raw organic grass fed milk

pastured eggs from the farmer who provides us our milk as well

 

*We shop the dirty dozen/clean 15 list, no compromise for me. If we can't afford it we just don't eat it or we eat it in a different form other than fresh (frozen, preserves, etc)

*Buy frozen veggies/fruits rather than fresh.

*Rice and Beans. I am slowly starting to learn to stretch my meals using rice and/or beans. Chilis, soups, stews, sloppy joes, etc. Throw some rice or beans in there to bulk it up and nobody can really tell. I purchase my rice and beans in bulk. I try to purchase organic or eco-farmed rices and beans.

*We purchased a grain mill and buy organic grains in bulk and then grind our own flour. It's sooo much cheaper and healthier and tastier.

*Bake your own bread

*Dehydrate your own fruit snacks using organic frozen berries and good raw local honey.

*www.azurestandard.com is HUGE for us. We buy a lot from them. And I am glad we have a local drop site. You can call to see if there's a drop site near you. Some things are more expensive, but often times things are cheaper. Right now 3 lbs of organic apples are 1.95.

*Make your own yogurt

 

That's all I can think of right now. HTH! And I'm really looking forward to other suggestions :)

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 46

This has really been a challenge for us lately.  We don't like to buy non organic meat or dairy at ALL but I have been buying some conventional meat.  Dh hasn't had much work since before Christmas, and we weren't prepared.  We no longer have credit cards so we really can't spend any extra and pay it off when work picks up in a month.  If we were paying off debt I would be willing to pay debt slower in order to buy organic, as long as it was a good value (bulk type stuff, not strawberries in winter winky.gif ) I do my best to get the most affordable organic veggies and I always buy organic milk and yogurt, but I compromise a lot right now.  We do cut back in other areas so groceries can be quality, but there is only so much cutting back possible.  I'm glad I bought things like coconut oil in bulk while we had the money so I don't have to sacrifice there.  We will definitely be buying sides of grassfed meat and storing more food this summer so this doesn't happen again next year.

post #14 of 46

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110421082519.htm

 

The cost we have to pay for organics is far more important to us and we simply cuts costs on other non-food items.

 

This is us: I see good food as a major part of our health care plan, esp since we don't have medical insurance.  However, we've also been in situations where it is a matter of not even being able to afford food at all, let alone organics, so I have a priorities list.  For clarity, the things at the top are the first things to go in times of economic hardship:

 

10) Anything that's not on the dirty fifteen (the last fifteen items on this list: http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php) - this is most of the time: we've yet to be in a situation where we can afford organic everything .  The reason I use the dirty fifteen instead of the much more popular "dirty twelve" is simply because carrots are a major part of our diet and I want them to be as nutritionally dense as possible.

9) Cultured dairy (cheese, sour cream, yogurt) - so long as it is fermented and hormone free, I don't mind getting conventional too much (my reasoning behind our dairy choices line up a lot with those outlined here, you have to scroll down: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/01/11/monday-mission-level-up-your-yogurt-game/)

8) Local, pastured poultry; gets replaced with Bell & Evans and only then conventional

7) Local, pastured pork; gets replaced with conventional

6) Local, pastured beef, gets replaced with something like Laura's lean beef and only then conventional

5) Grains & legumes (this is counter intuitive since these aren't supposed to be as heavy in pesticides as fresh produce, but since the bulk of our diet is grains & legumes I want to get the best that we can get and usually organic is not that much more than conventional when purchased in bulk)

4) Dirty fifteen (btw, except for apples we end up not eating fruit that is highest in pesticides because we can't afford the organic versions even when we're doing okay financially)

3) Liver - cheap meat, great nutrition, first thing affected by the animal not being raised properly (and hence most harmful when eaten in its conventional form).  If we can't afford pastured liver, I do buy Bell & Evans but I've never gone entirely conventional nor would I - we'd just stop eating it altogether.

2) Eggs - this is our main protein source and the nutritional content of pastured eggs is just so much higher that I've only ever switched to conventional for very short (as in a week or two) periods of time when we had to do things like empty out the penny jar.

1) Pastured bones - I use backs/necks/bones/etc to make broth and use the broth to cook our grains and legumes, to make soups and to drink as a snack.  There were times when we couldn't afford meat at all and relied on bone broths for our animal protein.  Scraps like this still cost less than even conventional meat (except maybe chicken) and again their nutritional content is superior to conventional raised so they are a top priority for us.  Thankfully this is also the easiest thing to keep since we have a fantastic source of cheap local, pastured scraps, if this was not the case I'm not sure what we'd do.

 

Honestly, when we can't afford local meat (whether pork, poultry or beef) first we eat a whole lot less meat in general (like only three times a week as part of a casserole rather than main dish - which for us is very little) and then we only switch to conventional meats one meal at a time.  We do not do well healthwise when we do not eat meat at all.

 

ETA: OP, I constantly have a headache over grocery shopping.  What has worked for us is to pick a figure that allows us to get 1-8 regularly (nothing fancy, just basic whole foods all cooked from scratch, eating cheap ethnic & one pot meals with no convenience items and pastured meat four or so times a week) when DH brings in a sufficient amount of money to cover all our bills, including the debt snowball.  This becomes our basic month to month budget.  When we have extra money and we've put away some in savings/EF, I try to stock our pantry and maybe get a few treats (for us this means something like strawberries or fresh seafood from a reputable source).  When times are rough, I stop spending money on anything non-essential (this includes our $5 netflix membership), then cut our snowball down, and only when it gets to the point where we are making minimum payments and we're in danger of eating into our EF, do we start cutting our food budget.  Honestly, the way we see it is that we can't afford not to get good food if we are to function at the things we have to do day to day and keep our children healthy.


Edited by ltlmrs - 4/27/11 at 7:15pm
post #15 of 46


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJez View Post
.

*We purchased a grain mill and buy organic grains in bulk and then grind our own flour. It's sooo much cheaper and healthier and tastier.

 


This is definitely true if you can afford to get a grain mill.  It took us three years before we were finally able to purchase one (I saved my gift money), but until we did so I relied on KA Whole White Wheat.

 

post #16 of 46

 

Quote:
I try to stock our pantry

 

 

once you stock, it is much easier to just maintain - be it the pantry or the freezer (fully stocked freezer is cheaper to run as well!)

 

 

post #17 of 46

My organics breakdown....

 

Buy the "Dirty Dozen" organic

Buy organic if the price is close, or similar to conventional - this happens pretty frequently for me.

If local is an option, I buy local - my grocery store usually carries local produce in season

 

Organic milk is way too expensive for us, but I do buy hormone and antibiotic free milk.

 

We eat 95% vegetarian. When I do buy meat, I'll only eat grassfed organic beef.

 

We buy organic pastured chicken eggs - I just started doing this and I doubt I'll ever go back. They are so different, you can really tell they came from healthy chickens.

 

I buy generic the good majority of the time, my grocery store has a store brand organic and the price is usually very close to the name brand conventional, or even the store brand conventional. There are only a few items I buy name brand and the only reason I buy the name brand is because I prefer the flavor, the generic versions just aren't quite the same.

 

post #18 of 46

I just added up our grocery bill for March and it was much more than I'd expected it to be.. But we buy organic  (and fair trade) whenever there is a choice and really don't skimp on food.  But I totally understand that it's just not possible for everyone to buy organic, if you are barely scrambling buy to afford ANY kind of food.

I, on the other hand, used to spend so much money on really stupid, useless things that it doesn't even compare. We bought all organic dairy, but just found out DD is allergic to milk. Well, the rice/oat/almond milk is even more expensive.. And the goat cheese and buffalo mozzarella she likes is expensive too. Also I want to go towards more raw foods, meaning more fruit and veggies.. I thought our food budget was about 600$ a month (for three) but it's probably closer to 900$. We have done a conscious choice that healthy, good food is important to us (and I really care about the environmental and ethical aspects as well) so while I'm trying to be more frugal  otherwise and not spend a lot on other stuff (still buy quality, but only bare necessities) I just swallow the price.

post #19 of 46

I tend to skimp on other things in our lives, and pay more for food.  Lately though, with gas prices being as they are, I've been shopping at Aldi's more often.  I buy lunch stuff there through the Fit & Active line.  They have some great all natural juice & lemonade I get.  I buy some of their produce, like they have cheap pineapples.  I also get the wild caught alaskan salmon there.  We are vegetarians so while I like to think our grocery bill is cheaper cuz I don't buy meat, it tends to get pretty high trying to buy organic produce all the time.  I buy organic frozen veggies mostly for dinners.  I stay away from canned veggies, but seem to have a hard time giving up my canned tomatos (even though I know about BPA lined cans).  We have a Woodman's by us that has a lot of great, cheaper, organic and natural foods.  Natural is important to me if I can't get organic. 

 

And some stuff I just don't buy.  Organic canned soup I think is gross, but I also can't bring myself to buy the non-organic kind.  So we don't have soup much unless I have time to make it from scratch.  Organic dairy is important to me as well.  We don't drink cow's milk, and my DH is allergic to dairy, so we don't do much dairy.  But what we do get is organic.

 

Oh, and I buy bags of rice, barley, lentils, etc.  So much cheaper for those than the boxed flavored kind.  I regret to say I don't get bagged beans yet, I'm working on it.  But soaking them seems so time consuming.

post #20 of 46


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greenlea View Post

 

And some stuff I just don't buy.  Organic canned soup I think is gross, but I also can't bring myself to buy the non-organic kind.  So we don't have soup much unless I have time to make it from scratch.  Organic dairy is important to me as well.  We don't drink cow's milk, and my DH is allergic to dairy, so we don't do much dairy.  But what we do get is organic.

 

Oh, and I buy bags of rice, barley, lentils, etc.  So much cheaper for those than the boxed flavored kind.  I regret to say I don't get bagged beans yet, I'm working on it.  But soaking them seems so time consuming.


 

Soup freezes very well and so do soaked and/or cooked beans.  We don't have a deep freeze, but anytime I make beans I'll make a double batch and freeze some and depending on the soup I might do the same.  When it comes to soups and beans, a crock pot is your best friend as well.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Torn between frugality and organics when grocery shopping ...