Thursday, June 23, 2011

How my Wife & I Eat Organic on $350 per Month – Part 1

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If you are reading this, you probably belong to one of two groups: Either you already eat organic and are trying to save some money, or you are considering going organic but are stymied by the high prices you see on the grocery store shelves.  If so, I understand… I’ve been in both groups.

Over the past two years, my wife and I have steadily shifted our diet towards being nearly 100% organic.  At roughly the same time we were introduced to the benefits of eating organic, we were also introduced to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class (our everlasting gratitude goes out to our friends, the Murrays and the Brainards, for introducing us to both).  Let me tell you, trying to eat organic while paying off debt with “gazelle intensity” isn’t easy… but it can be done!  I can say, with absolute certainty, that good health and high energy levels are really helpful for keeping up that level of intensity.

Through trial and error (lots of error), we have developed our own personal system that allows us to eat organic on a budget of about $350 a month.  This is nothing magical, secret, and there is nothing that I want to sell.  My only hope is that this benefits someone out there.

8 Ways You Can Eat Organic on a Budget

1.    Split your monthly food budget into weeks

There may be no single thing more demotivating than reaching the end of the money before the end of the month.  We actually spent all our food money by the 15th of the month... on more than one occasion!  It was then that I realized that it is a whole lot easier to make it through a few days with what is left in the cupboard than trying to power through a couple weeks.  The solution: Take your monthly food budget and divide it by four, and then take five bucks from each of the first three weeks and add it to the last week to account for the extra two or three days in a 30 or 31 day month (obviously, just divide evenly by four in February).  When you know you only have $82.50 to spend, the “I want” items tend to put themselves back on the shelves in order to make room for the “I need” items in your cart.

2.    Limit shopping trips

The more often you go to the store, the more often you will “remember something you forgot” or have a “hey, let’s get some of that” moment.  Grocery store aisles are intended to get you to buy extra stuff on a whim, so do whatever you have to in order to limit yourself to one to two store trips per week… make shopping lists, plan meals, check your stock of cupboard staples, etc.  Just don’t go to the store more often than is absolutely necessary.

3.    Buy local and in-season

Along with the lower prices that accompany local and in-season produce, in-season produce also introduces diversity into your diet.  Buying local also helps to support your local economy… farmers are consumers, too, and they are more likely to support local goods and businesses instead of national mega-chains full of imported goods.  Finally, with fuel prices at record highs, buying local means more of your dollar is going towards production instead of transportation.

4.    Sign up for a home-delivery CSA

If you aren’t familiar with what a CSA is, take a moment to click over to Google and search those three letters: CSA (it's okay, I'll wait... just promise you'll come back).  My wife and I subscribe to two CSAs, each delivering a box of fresh, local, organic produce to our doorstep on alternating Mondays.  Different CSAs offer delivery of various other items, such as meats, eggs, cheeses, milks, coffees, cereals, breads, etc, etc, etc.  The best thing about the CSA is that you place your order directly on the website, select exactly what you want, get it delivered directly to you, and you never have to hear the soft siren’s call of the grocery store shelves.

I would be remiss to not put in a quick plug for our favorite CSAs, so here are the two we use:

This post is getting pretty long, so I will come back with, "How my Wife & I Eat Organic on $350 per Month - Part 2."  See you then!


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