(NaturalNews) Eating healthy in today's world on a tight budget can be tricky, especially since the organic label -- that is, foods grown how they used to be grown before the days of chemical pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) -- often carries with it a higher price tag. But there are ways to provide the best quality foods for your family without breaking the bank.
The group Only Organic, which advocates for safer food production through organic cultivation methods, has come up with some helpful tips for getting the best bang for your buck when shopping for clean food. If you play it smart, incorporating more organic food into your everyday diet can actually become a cheaper alternative to the standard American diet.
1) Watch for sales and shop around. It might take a little more effort, but finding the best deals among several different grocery stores can cut your food bills substantially. Find which products are available for the best prices at individual stores and hit up each one of them on your regular grocery trip. You might be surprised how much you can save!
2) Buy in bulk. Believe it or not, many healthy grocers provide bulk or case discounts on a variety of products. For non-perishable items, stocking up on these can save quite a bit of money in the long run. For perishables, getting a few friends together to buy regularly and split can provide savings of 10 percent or more, depending on the store.
3) Use coupons. Coupon shopping isn't just for conventional grocery stores anymore, as many healthy and organic stores now offer coupon books, often at the entrance or on a little carousel at the service desk. Many organic manufacturers also offer coupons directly on their websites or through email, providing savings that may not be widely advertised.
4) Shop private labels. Many stores now carry private-label or "generic" organic brands that are cheaper than the big names. And as organics increase in popularity, this will only become more widespread. Just be sure to carefully read the ingredients labels to look for unhealthy offenders like refined sugar and processed flour, which may be hiding.
5) Join a local cooperative. The benefits of joining a local agriculture program or food cooperative can be substantial, as buying directly from farms saves money. By not having to purchase shelf space and have their products marked up by retailers, local farmers can pass on the savings to their customers.
6) Eat out less. Many people don't realize that eating out adds up quickly. Even fast food that is supposedly inexpensive can cost more than a high-quality, home-cooked meal made from organic meats and vegetables. By cooking at home more, you can stock up on healthy foods, especially when they go on sale, and make clean meals for less.
7) Learn about which products are most important to buy organic. Certain conventional foods tend to be more tainted than others, so prioritizing your shopping list to avoid the most toxic varieties is crucial. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), for instance, releases a shopping guide every year warning consumers about the cleanest and dirtiest produce. Meat is another food that's important to buy organic and, if possible, pastured or grass-fed.
8) Grow your own food. You might be surprised by how much clean food you can grow at home in your own backyard. Herbs are relatively easy to grow, and they work well in small spaces and even kitchens. And for those with yard space, growing fruits and vegetables is also a viable option. Learn about what grows well in your area and take advantage of the seasons. Here's a good place to start: OrganicGardening.com.