I thought I would share all the foods we eat organic on a budget because everyone is curious what I buy. Besides eating clean and real food, we eat 80% organic (certified or not), pesticide free and chemical free food. Organic label isn’t always the best or necessary, I will share my common sense tips on how to save money by eating almost organic without paying a lot of money.
Once we ditched processed and convenience foods, gazillion of toxic cleaning supplies, paper towels and etc. tissues, we suddenly had so much money left to spend on real food. You will see how your fridge, pantry and wallet will clean up. Mine remind me of my grandma’s – only real food I can pronounce (quinoa counts) that is mostly organic. Remember, baby steps and do what you can!
FAQ and Myths
How Long Have You Been Eating Organic?
I am forever grateful to my kids for changing me for better. If not for them, I would still be drinking diet coke while punching in 0s on My Fitness Pal with one hand and holding a smoke with another one. In 2007, I was researching formulas for my son and that’s when I came across organic food vs. non-organic. I ended up feeding him mostly with organic formula. If I had a baby now, I would breastfeed way longer but back then I was too young.
In 2008, my same son was having an ear infection after ear infection, and that’s when I learnt the truth about dairy. I started buying it organic. Then my 2nd son was born and I learnt even more. Every year is a milestone and an improvement.
What % of Your Food is Organic?
Last month, a few things happened in our lives: we watched GMO OMG documentary after my mom was diagnosed with a tumour. After that, we went 80% organic, 20% left for social life outings and when I can’t find a certain organic product. It’s life.
How Much Do You Spend on Groceries?
Alex asked me that last week. I honestly don’t know and there is no point to know. We are an average middle class family, with average income, my grocery bills are not through the roof and it is our health we are talking about. I strongly believe I will pay for it later in pills and treatments if I keep eating Round Up sprayed vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs etc. – it is everywhere!
I have done my budget before and for 4 us we were spending $800. Now it’s a bit more with growing boys. I really don’t buy anything except real food. All packaged and processed stuff costs more in many cases. Plus we eat meat only once a week now. Plus we eat very simple and nothing fancy. You can tell it by my recipe ingredients.
I also look for deals and sales, and stock up. Sometimes reduced organic items are still fine. Like this organic chicken was to expire next day and was $4 off. I bought a few at only $12 each, cooked one the same day and froze the rest. Definitely even a small deep freezer is a must.
Buying Organic Is Expensive
Um, it’s not! Buying 2 organic bell peppers for $5 in February is not necessary. Those $5 can get you a 4 lb bag of carrots. If I had 4 kids maybe it would be but average family with 2 kids can do it. And really do as much as you can! Organic is slowly becoming more affordable.
Trust me, when you start buying more organic you will see how less of variety products you will buy. One mom asked me where I get organic grapes. She loves adding them to her oatmeal every morning. I don’t buy organic grapes in winter because they are ridiculously expensive, so I add organic raisins – dried grapes, which cost $10 for a few lbs at Costco.
Organic Milk Is Double the Price
A gallon jug of organic milk costs $9, I always hear that argument from parents “It’s double the price!”. OK, my kids are not calves, they do not need to drink that much cow’s milk. My kids drink water and delicious green smoothie recipe on a day to day basis. They add milk to cereal and I rotate between organic cow’s, almond and soy milk. They drink organic juice and chocolate soy milk as a treat. Spinach has more calcium than milk, so do many other vegetables. I taught my kids to eat vegetables well over the years and you can do the same => 5 ways to make kids eat healthy.
I will let you Google and form your own opinion about dairy. You might want to read this eye opener article on milk. Keep in mind that dairy industry is a huge business. They are in business to make money and to assure you drink 100% Canadian milk. Where else could our milk be from? China?! Or how about some chocolate milk after exercise to refuel?! Here is ingredients list of a chocolate milk:
What here is good? Milk produced from cows vaccinated with drugs, fed with GMO grains that been sprayed with Round Up?! Or GMO white sugar?! Again sugar! Or poisonous carrageenan?! Do you think artificial colour is healthy?!
Now, you could buy organic milk, add full of antioxidants cacao powder, maple syrup (honey) and give your child a treat. The only reason why it’s not sold in stores is because it costs more to produce and we are so used to cheap food. Our fault?! Yes and No. Let’s stop supporting something that is ruining our health with our own money!
Why We Disrespect Our Food?
I can’t tell you how many times I silently watched my friends throw out food. Kids don’t finish dinner – garbage, leftover sour cream in a serving bowl from taco night – garbage, chips after party – garbage. I would make my kids finish their food or eat it myself, wrap and refrigerate leftover sour cream for tomorrow’s leftovers, put chips back in the bag and close with a tie. Because it is food, we spent money on it, money we worked hard for and because we should respect our Earth. I was brought up that bread is the most important food on the planet as our ancestors worked hard for it.
Today food in America is unbelievably cheap majorly thanks to GMOs and that’s why people throw it out. 11 million lbs of food is being thrown away in the US every hour! We are definitely not starving but rather overeating and abusing food! I often think if all my friends were buying organic food like I do, they wouldn’t be throwing it out because it costs more and requires more work to source.
I Can’t Afford Organic Meat
Do you know what is recommended amount of protein from meat per person per week? Half a pound. That is like 1 large chicken breast. The rest – plant-based. We became these meat eating monsters polluting the Earth for no reason except money!
Do you know that cow’s poops are more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars?
How gross?! It is killing us and the planet. And it is not only fast food restaurants, it is the fitness industry as well. How much whey and meat products they recommend to consume in order to be lean?! Unbelievable! I fell a victim of the trend last year and so glad I woke up before they killed my liver and me. It is really a separate topic. So are the chickens shot with growth hormones for large breasts because we love breasts!
So, you really don’t need to spend more money on meat. Buy locally raised, preferably from a farmer, meat. And eat more vegetables!
Where Do You Shop?
My biggest tip for you, once you know what you like to eat, is stock up. Buy a lot, store or freeze. For example, I buy a few packages of pasta, a few jars of peanut butter and many lbs of beans at a time. My kids love apples and bananas so I buy 5 – 6 lbs of each, refrigerate extra apples and any brown bananas become clean eating banana muffins or go into superfood green smoothie.
I have never set my foot into Whole Foods.
Costco: I shop there once every few months => my healthy Costco shopping list.
Farmers Market: June-November once a week I shop at a local farm stand where produce is not certified organic but not sprayed and grown in the most natural way as possible => farmers market haul.
The Real Canadian Superstore (Canada): Twice a month for organic fruits and veggies November – June (selection depends on a day). Plus there is organic/natural aisle with pantry staples and fridge with dairy products.
Trader Joe’s (USA): If you have one near by shop there but read labels as not everything is healthy and organic. They say they sell non-GMO products but I don’t believe that because they refused many times to go through testing. Buy only organic and read labels.
120 Organic Cheap Foods
With fruits as with vegetables, it pays off to buy seasonal. And know your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – conventionally grown 12 items that retain most pesticides and 15 with the least amount. It will help you spend your $s wisely. I never ever buy non-organic Dirty Dozen anymore.
Summer (local pesticide free):
Berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
Stone fruit – peaches, apricots, plums
Melons – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
Just like with fruit, I buy organic veggies by season (including season in California and Mexico), following Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen rules. June – November once a week I shop at a local farm stand where produce is not certified organic but not sprayed and grown in the most natural way as possible. November – June back to supermarket I go.
Spring salad mix
Bell Peppers (green house grown without sprays)
Summer: Locally grown produce you can see in farmers market haul.
Organic Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
Strawberries for red smoothie
Mango for coconut mango ice cream; kids love to eat frozen fruit as a snack
Corn for cauliflower shepherd’s pie
Mixed Vegetables make 15 minute delicious frozen vegetables stir fry.
The only dairy me and Alex eat is Greek yogurt as a condiment, a bit of butter for sautéing like in healthy mushroom stroganoff, a bit of cheese sprinkled on stuffed portobellos. That’s it, we really limit dairy. It didn’t happen overnight and I went through a huge withdrawal but now I could care less. It was way easier for Alex – at age of 40 his cholesterol was so high, he got prescribed Crestor. Well, not for my husband – he quit dairy in a day LOL.
Kids love bagel with cream cheese, toast with butter and cereal with milk. I get it, they are kids. That’s why I buy organic, mix up soy and almond milk with cow’s and make them green smoothies almost every day. I do limit dairy even for them. For example, a lb of butter lasts us 4 – 5 months.
A dozen for $6 on average. No way around it. There are many eggs on the market: free run, cage free, omega, from neighbour etc. My own opinion after a long research is the best are organic. Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food has a good post about egg labels (useful info in comments too).
I also do not buy egg whites any more as I learnt how harmful high protein and low carb diets are (how I stopped being afraid to eat), plus organic egg whites are almost $7 a carton. Forget about it!
My kids do not like homemade granola or cereal, it is not happening (however, occasionally I make healthy homemade cereal for adults). They will eat a bunch of celery and broccoli before they eat that. So, I buy organic cereal, mostly Nature’s Path. Many of their cereals are lower in sugar and are made with wholesome ingredients. They vary so read the label. I also cook oatmeal from scratch using quick cooking steel cut oats with hemp and chia seeds.
Organic Seasonings and Condiments
Balsamic vinegar (next bottle will be organic)
Vegetable bouillon cubes
Organic Canned Goods
I buy tomato products both in glass jars and BPA free Kirkland cans. Tomatoes are acidic and when in contact with steel, harmful chemicals will leach. Wild salmon and line and pole tuna are the best options and we probably eta some BPA with those – it’s life.
Oily products like peanut butter should not come into contact with plastic for the same reason as tomatoes. They are not acidic but absorb chemicals from plastic. Same with dairy – I do not wrap my cheese in plastic anymore => glass container. However, all dairy products come in plastic and I haven’t come up with a solution for that unless you bring them home and transfer to glass containers immediately. It probably would help to discard food that touched plastic but I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m still thinking.
I do not buy canned beans because organic canned beans in BPA free cans are ridiculously expensive ($3 for 14 oz can). I buy dried beans in bulk, cook and freeze (in BPA free bags once cooled) => how to cook dried beans.
I also make my own applesauce and freeze (in BPA free bags once cooled).
I’m so proud to say the only sugar we eat is raw and unpasteurized honey and maple syrup (Costco was out of organic one). And mostly in baked goods, on top of pancakes or applesauce waffles, and to cure colds, coughs and sore throat. That is it for sugar for us, yay! And I’m even more happy to say we do not eat much of sweet stuff overall. We used to buy agave syrup (nectar) but apparently it is as processed as is high fructose corn syrup. Yikes!
Corn tortilla chips
Mary’s Gone crackers
Taste of Nature granola bars
Organic Whole Grains and Such
These are your money savers! Buy grains and beans in bulk section or in big bags at Costco, and you are laughing. So cheap and keeps your family full. I make A LOT of soups, curries, stir fries and casseroles with various grains and seeds.
Lentils (green, red, brown)
Split peas (green and yellow)
Pasta (whole wheat, brown rice)
Seeds are awesome! They boost nutrition of any meal. I add them to oatmeal and smoothies.
OK, this discovery of mine really blew my mind last year. We used to buy bags of microwave popcorn. A thought about ditching microwave pushed me to find other ways to make popcorn for kids and after I read this we were done. Organic popping corn is cheap, so is the popcorn machine or a stove top pot.
Whole wheat or spelt flour
Not to be confused with cocoa powder. Cacao powder is less processed and has way more nutrients and antioxidants than cocoa powder. Cacao can be substituted 1:1 for cocoa in recipes. I love it!
Organic Bread Products
All made with sprouted grains and seeds, and are organic. Favourite brands: Dave’s Killer Bread, Food for Life, SiIver Hills Bakery (Canada).
Organic Meat and Fish
We eat meat twice a week. We really cut back on animal products in the last few years. After talking to doctors, dieticians and holistic nutritionists I knew we had to. Here is a very good article about animal products and health, particularly how they activate cancer genes.
Chicken: I get it from a nearby farm. It is not certified organic but it is grass and veggie fed, free running and without any antibiotics. Almost organic to me. The grass on the farm is not sprayed. I think this is better than Lilydale (Perdue, Harvest, Coleman, Tyson) organic chicken. Commercially raised organic chicken is not that innocent… Not to mention regular chicken which is not what it used to be. Read everything about chicken 2017 => The Truth About Chicken.
Venison: My mom supplies me with some from their hunting trips. It is wild, however she mentioned it might occasionally end up eating in some farmlands sprayed with what?! We don’t know. We cannot physically trace each wild deer so we hope they don’t eat a lot (if any) of sprayed vegetation. That’s the best I can do. I mostly use ground venison in all recipes calling for ground meat.
Turkey: I buy free run ground turkey at a local butcher occasionally.
Sockeye Salmon: We eat fish about once every few weeks. We stock up our freezer with wild salmon every summer. Much cheaper than at stores. Species of salmon vary every year. Living near the ocean helps to eat only wild fish. When we are out, we go to a fish market and buy salmon and shrimp caught in a deep sea in Alaska. I would never ever buy farmed fish like Atlantic salmon, tilapia, shellfish and nothing fresh or frozen from Asia.
Organic Coffee and Tea
Protein powders – really not real food but if you work out, it helps in many ways. Check out clean protein powders I like.