It’s hard to believe that next week marks the official start of holiday cheer and the socially acceptable playing of Christmas music. With the holiday season fast approaching, next month’s budget is bound to take an annual hit…unless your gifts are all homemade using re-purposed materials, in which case props to you!
This time of year, it can be a moral dilemma to forego organics for the more affordable, pesticide laden varieties. Yep, I’ve been guilty of this. Even though the spirit of Christmas is all about giving, it shouldn’t come at a cost to our health, right?
With type 1 diabetes and a lame compromised immunity, I always try to opt for more natural choices on my grocery list. When it comes to investing in organic, I’ve found a few tactful ways to stretch my savings without sacrificing health and happiness…woohoo!
1. Buy in bulk. From gluten-free grains to nuts and dried fruit, a quick cost comparison on the shelves of Whole Foods will prove that the bulk section is where the wild savings are. Many conventional grocery stores also offer designated bulk bins for organic or unsweetened items, so for a slight premium it’s worth scooping up the naturally good stuff.
2. Brave the masses at Costco. Similar to Winners, I have to be in the right head space to tackle this place, especially over the holidays. My reluctance to meander through a busy warehouse for an hour has turned into a thrill after discovering that Costco now carries Happy Planet smoothies & soups, select organic fruits & veggies, quinoa, hemp seeds, organic yogurt, green home cleaning products, and a surprising slew of natural products at a fraction of the regular price. If you don’t have a membership or any close connections to get you in, it could be worth the annual fee for the added savings.
3. Be a selective organic shopper. It might not be practical or cost effective to go strictly organic, but if you’re striving for a cleaner cart then it helps to know the dirtiest culprits. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen to see which produce has the worst GMO rap sheet. Some of the most wallet-worthy organic foods to invest in are apples, pears, celery, grapes, spinach and cherry tomatoes. Buying locally grown, in-season organic produce also lowers the cost as less energy is used to get the goods from farm to fridge.
4. Survey labels. I’ve been known to fall prey to pretty organic food packaging, but it’s always worth checking out the ingredient list and nutritional content on product labels. Organic beverages can often have the same amount of “evaporated cane juice” sugar as regular juices or soft drinks, so I tend to avoid spending the extra dollar on these unless it’s an emergency case of low blood sugar. This also goes for organic chips and sweets but hey, we all have our spending weaknesses.
5. Make your own. The popular wellness triad of chia seeds, hemp hearts and buckwheat groats seems to be popping up in cereal aisles everywhere (Holy Crap, Qi’a by Nature’s Path, Anita’s Organic Breakfast Boost). Most bags of about 225 grams go for roughly $10. When you buy each ingredient separately, the savings really rack up over time. Plus it takes less than a minute to swirl everything into one home container. Again, the omnipotence of buying in bulk.
6. Embrace your inner coupon queen (or king). Who doesn’t love clipping coupons? Maybe not to the extent of Extreme Couponing, but saving on organics really sweetens the deal for me. Whole Foods offers Whole Deal Coupons, and The Healthy Shopper also promotes a range of Canada-wide coupons on natural and organic products.
7. BYOT: Bring Your Own Teabags. Okay this will make me sound like a crazy teabag lady. If you’re an avid tea junkie like myself, you know that a store-bought box of tea can often run the same amount as one ‘special-tea’ latte at your favorite community cafe. Most tea and coffee shops will give you free hot water (especially if you BYOM – mug). So if you’re out and about, stash a couple organic green teabags in your purse to avoid spending a small fortune on a specialty beverage.
Happy budget organic shopping!