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Monday, February 8, 2010

Organic on a Budget

I've been doing a little experiment ...

My family is making changes to eat more whole foods. We've also decided to purchase some of our foods organic. We also have a grocery budget to work with - and stick to. So, that meant determining where I'd get the biggest bang for my buck when purchasing organic foods. For me, that means buying meat without hormones or antibiotics (grass-fed), buying dairy products and eggs organically (no hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides), and buying produce on the EWA's "dirty dozen" list organically. All canned, frozen foods, and fresh produce not on the EWA's "dirty dozen" list will be purchased conventionally. We will also be purchasing as little convenience foods as possible.

We all know buying organic usually means paying more. So, I've been shopping around trying to determine which stores have the best prices. I've been taking notes and keeping a price book. If you missed I've compared prices between three local (Chattanooga, TN) whole foods stores: Fresh Market, EarthFare, and Green Life Grocery. You can see it HERE. I know that there are lots of other whole foods stores like Trader Joes, Sprouts, and Whole Foods, but sadly none of them are in my area.

I've also visited all the local conventional markets in the area: Kroger, Publix, Ingles, Food Lion, and Bi-Lo. I have to admit that what I found suprised me. I thought I had a good idea of who had the lowest prices, but what I found was quite different than what I expected. You can see my comparisons HERE. Of all the conventional markets Bi-Lo and Food Lion have the LEAST amount of organic products and Ingles, Publix, and Kroger have the MOST. Ingles is the closest to my home and actually they have the most competive prices! So, I've been shopping there a lot more.

What I've found is Ingles offers at least a handful of organic products on sale each week in their flyer. I've been taking this time to stock up on things that are already the lowest prices as compared to the other stores I've visited. Last week they had gallons of organic Apple Juice for just over $5. I bought two. They also had organic vegetables, Muir Glen soup, and pasta sauce on sale, as well as grass fed beef chuck roasts. I used all of my grocery budget last week.

This week I am planning a trip to Earth Fare to score some fresh organic produce and some organic dairy products. I'll let you know what I find!

In the meantime, I've been researching how to buy my beef cheaper than I can get it at the store. I've looked into several farms and talked to friends and we're still trying to make a decision. We are definitely going to purchase it straight from a farmer and we have several families that are interested in going in on a whole cow - making the price per pound even cheaper!

In addition, were still looking for a good deal on organic chickens - but so far we haven't turned up any good leads on where to get them.

To read past "Organic on a Budget" posts go HERE.


Kelly Via said...

I am interested in seeing your Store comparisons, but I think you may have forgotten to do your link on the word "HERE." Go check it out, and sorry if I am mistaken.

Jennifer said...

Check out if you haven't already. It's an excellent source for local grass-fed beef and other meat. We've bought a 1/4 grass-fed cow for 2 years now from a local farmer (Wisconsin) and it's amazing. Delicious, healthier, cost-effective and contientious. I don't see us buying meat at a grocery store again.

Anne said...

We keep free-range chickens for the eggs and are looking at getting a few cows, too [we have about 5 acres]. We also get deer meat that either hubby or his sister-in-law hunt during the season. I can't wait for the snow to melt and spring to come so we can get the garden going.

We don't have a lot in the way of organic markets, but Kroger does seem to have a decent selection. I'm glad your giving this topic more focus and helping the rest of us along your way.

The Mom-tage said...

This is such a helpful post. It has been difficult to find a balance between health and savings. It totally would depend on what's available in your area. But, you should at least check and see if there is a Co-op in your area. Thanks for all your hard work!

Katie said...

We just purchased out first cow this year. We went in with 3 other families and each got 1/4 of the meat. It has been great! The meat tastes wonderful and we have saved a lot of money doing it this way.

I have been saving leftover from my gorcery budget to save for the next cow!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

What about growing the things on the dirty dozen list?

Lettuce is super easy to grow, and REALLY cheap!

I grow the majority of the things on that list, and I only have a 1/4 acre lot.

Denise Sawyer said...

Kelly Via,
I fixed the link! Sorry about that!

The "Cent"sible Sawyer

Affluent Pauper said...

I actually had a side by side comparison shop done last year to compare Trader Joes to Whole Foods as far as pricing goes. It was done in June last year, but it might help - I also did a lengthy list of companies that offer coupons (last updated in April 09 and sorely in need of updating but might give you an idea of what's out there) if that helps. It's at

I just found out that I need to go on a gluten free diet, so any resources on additional gluten-free items on the cheap would be great!

I like the comments about buying 1/4 of a cow. Can someone comment on how much that costs you? I know it would vary by area, but a ballpark would be great, as I've often thought of doing that.

CESI said...

I get most of my organic items from the Lowe's Foods that is closest to me. I have found that their organic brand is the cheapest. There is a Whole Foods in my area, but they are super expensive. Your cheapest bet is to join a co-op. We have one here in NC, but it is like 30 minutes away from me. So, not really convenience.


CESI said...

Also, if you go to your grocery store late at night, many times the organic fruit will be marked down in the "very ripe" fruit bin. This is great to buy and cut up and freeze.