Organic food can take a toll on your wallet, however I do believe buying quality organic food and eating the most nutritious foods will save you the big bucks in medical costs, prescription drugs and doctor visits down the road. This is a question I get asked frequently as a Health Coach - "How does one shop organic on a budget?" Well I've compiled some budgeting tips that work for me here.
Organic frozen produce at the store is typically cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season.
Buy local produce when it’s in season and freeze it for later
Freeze left overs in portions.
Double recipes and freeze leftovers. I like to do this with, soups, stews and healthy treats.
Freeze kitchen staples like butter or cheese if buying in bulk
Buy in bulk
Always buy packaged staples or meats on sale
Organic frozen produce at the store is typically cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. I like to buy my frozen fruit in bulk, great for crisps, smoothies, parfaits and overnight oats.
Reduce meat and dairy consumption. This includes milk and cheeses.
Buy packaged foods in bulk, I like Costsco – sprouted oats, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, beans, coffee, nut butters etc
Buy butter or cheese in bulk and freeze the rest for later use. That way you never run out!
Don't Let Food Go To Waste
If you know you will not have a chance to eat a meal, freeze food before it goes bad.
Keep your citrus fruits in the fridge - they will last up to a week or so longer
Store your asparagus, chives and herbs in a large glass mason jar filled with an inch of water to keep them spry
Make banana bread with overripe bananas. You can also peel and store in a freezer tight bag when ready to use.
Store your bananas away from your other fruit to keep your bananas lasting longer.
Grow Your Own Food / Buy Local
Compost all food waste to put nutrients back in the soil for your garden. This will keep the cost down on fertilizer.
If you don't have a garden or use for compost, add veggie scraps to a large silicone freezer bag and keep in the freezer. When you have a sufficient mount of scraps. Use in your Instant Pot to make a quick and easy veggie or bone both
Get yourself some chickens to hatch your own eggs! (If I didn't have a pitbull I totally would, but I don't think my girl would be too happy)
Buy organic seeds and start your own little garden or growing station. Doesn't matter the size!
Bring Food On The Go
Bring organic tea bags or protein powders with you
Bring a big jug or two or filtered water so you don't have to buy expensive water out.
If your on a road trip or at the movies, bring your own snacks and homemade popcorn so you don't have to pay the high prices for low quality food.
Don't buy pre-washed or pre-sliced fruits or vegetables because they tend to cost a lot more.
I like to make a habit and always have healthy snacks on hand with me for an emergency. I have stash spots in my car and in my purse (especially having kiddos!)
Make Smart Choices
For eggs: choose pasture raised or chickens fed an organic diet.
High risk GMO crops: Corn, soybeans, squash, chocolate, canola oil, cottonseed oil so be sure to purchase these organic.
Meat & dairy (animals products like chicken, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, etc.) are the most important to buy organic because of the risk of pesticides, cancer causing chemicals and antibiotics that occur in conventional produce meat and dairy.
Try to reduce meal consumption until dinner to cut back on grocery costs.
Cook at home more often! Organic restaurants are fun to do once in a while but it will cost your wallet alot more when dining out!
Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Foods
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is super important for staying healthy but like many people, you might be worried about the health risks from pesticides.
Pesticides are a big problem with non organic food and that can be really bad news from a health perspective. High exposure to pesticides and other toxins from our food has been linked to fertility problems and even cancer.
It’s not all bad news … there’s also a Clean 15 that puts you on safer ground when it comes to toxins. But as you’ll see from the Dirty Dozen, it definitely pays to go organic with a lot of your fruit and veggies!
The Dirty Dozen
So, what are the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides? These fruits and vegetables didn’t come out of it very well in the EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen report:
Strawberries - There were a whopping 22 different pesticides in one sample of strawberries. Even worse, roughly 20% of the strawberries contained 10 or more pesticides. Some of these include carbendazim (a probable hormone disruptor, especially for males, which is banned by the European Union on safety grounds) and bifenthrin (a possible carcinogenic). As well as pesticides, the EWG highlights that strawberry fields tend to also be sprayed with poisonous fumigants that kill bugs and, sterilize the soil. Some started out as chemical warfare gases!
Spinach - Spinach was found to be full of pesticide residue - 97% of the spinach tested had pesticides or pesticide residue. Mold and mildew killers, bug killers, permethrin (an insecticide linked to ADHD in kids, even at fairly low levels) and DDT are just a few of the nasties that were highlighted. The “dirtiest” spinach sample contained 18 different pesticides or pesticide residue.
Nectarines - Almost 94% of nectarines tested contained at least two different pesticides, and one sample had 15.
Apples - 90% of apples tested contained pesticides or pesticide residue. Diphenylamine (which is banned in Europe) was also found in 80% of samples.
Peaches - Over 99% of peaches tested positive for pesticides, with an average of 4 different ones.
Pears - Nearly half of the pears tested had 5 or more pesticides. These included carbendazim (a suspected hormone disruptor), diphenylamine (a potential carcinogenic) and acetamiprid (which is often used to kill bees).
Cherries - On average, there were five different pesticides found in cherries. One of these was iprodione, a potentially carcinogenic pesticide that is banned in Europe.
Grapes - Over 96% of the grapes tested had either pesticides or pesticide residue. The average number of pesticides found was five.
Celery - Over 95% of the celery tested was found to contain pesticides or had been contaminated with pesticides.
Tomatoes - The average tomato sample contained four different pesticides. One sample was found to have 15 pesticides.
Sweet Bell Peppers - Nearly 90% of sweet bell peppers tested had pesticide residue.
Potatoes - On a weight for weight basis, potatoes were found to have more pesticide contamination than any other produce.
The Clean 15
There is some good news: not all of your fresh produce is quite so likely to be loaded with nasties. It varies a bit but some of the produce from the Clean 15 list hardly contained any pesticides at all.
Avocado - Avocado was one of the least contaminated produce items in the EWG report - less than 1% of what was tested was found to have pesticide residue. A total of 360 avocados were tested and only one type of pesticide was found.
Sweet corn - Along with avocado, sweet corn was one of the lesser culprits for pesticides. Less than 2% of the sweet corn tested was found to have pesticides.
Pineapples - 90% of the pineapples tested had no pesticides or pesticide residue. There were only 5 different pesticides found across all of the samples.
Cabbage - Out of 700 cabbage samples, only two were found to have more than one type of pesticide, and 86% didn’t have any pesticides at all.
Onions - None of the onion samples had more than three pesticides, and over 90% didn’t contain any pesticides.
Sweet peas (frozen) - Around 80% of the frozen sweet peas tested didn’t feature any pesticides or pesticide residue. None of the sweet pea samples had more than two pesticides.
Papayas - 750 papaya samples were tested and none contained more than three pesticides. Roughly 80% of the papayas tested had no pesticide residue.
Asparagus - 90% of the asparagus samples tested had no pesticide residue and none of them contained more than three pesticides.
Mangos - 78% of the mangos tested had no pesticides and none contained more than two pesticides.
Eggplant - Around 75% of the eggplants tested had no pesticide residue and none contained more than two pesticides.
Kiwi - 65% of the kiwis tested had no pesticides and maximum of six different pesticides were found across all of the samples.
Cantaloupe - Only 10% of cantaloupe samples contained more than one pesticide and over 60% contained none.
Cauliflower - Roughly half of the cauliflower samples had no pesticides.
Broccoli - 70% of the broccoli samples tested had no pesticides. Around 10% had more than one pesticide.
Honeydew - Roughly half of the honeydew tested contained no pesticides. None had more than four pesticides.
What about washing and peeling produce?
Washing your produce gets rid of a few pesticides but it’s not a perfect solution, especially for the Dirty Dozen. Some pesticides can get inside the produce itself - especially fruits that are porous. Try out my DIY Produce Wash its a safe and effective way to clean your produce from all the filth and fingerprints from shipping.
Your best bet? Choose organic produce as much as you can, especially where the Dirty Dozen are concerned.