Enjoying Organic on a Budget


Enjoying Organic on a Budget

Is your wallet looking a little thin these days? Does your palate demand organic? Perhaps cash is tight, but health and taste can still top your priority list.

Is your wallet looking a little thin these days? Does your palate demand organic? Perhaps cash is tight, but health and taste can still top your priority list.

Studies have clearly shown the benefits of organic over nonorganic foods; for example, organically grown carrots have 69 percent more magnesium than nonorganic ones, and organic spinach has 52 percent more vitamin C than nonorganic.

But other studies show that the cost of organic foods makes it difficult to afford this healthier diet. So how can we enjoy the best without going broke? One option is choosing a vegetarian lifestyle–meat products consume a high percentage of the nonvegetarian budget.

Here are four more ideas to help you eat well without breaking the bank.

1. Go local

Farmers’ markets showcase organic farmers and bakers. Because you are dealing with the growers directly, you can find out when produce was picked and the methods used for growing.

Organic cooperatives are becoming available in some communities. These stores are run by members who receive a discount for their membership and volunteer time. Markup price shrinks as overhead cost is lowered through volunteer employees.

2. From the ground up

Gardens are a wonderful way to cut your food costs while enjoying the outdoors and feeling the satisfaction of growing something delicious yourself. If you are not an experienced gardener, you can find numerous helpful resources online or at your library or bookstore.

If you want to garden indoors, try starting with herbs–they add fresh flavour to any meal. The seedlings are inexpensive and simple to take care of, and you can pick the organic product when it’s ripe for maximum taste and nutrition.

For renters with little space, it would be worthwhile checking into whether there is a community garden nearby. You may even want to learn which edible plants and berries grow in your area and harvest them where they grow wild.

3. Do it yourself

Just about anything found in a store or restaurant can be duplicated at home for a fraction of the cost. Instead of buying precut vegetables, chop them yourself. Buy extra organic fruits and vegetables when they’re in season, then cut and freeze them for later.

Baking your own bread provides an optimal opportunity to create healthy, organic loaves. You have complete control over the ingredients, and you can bake several at once and freeze the extra.

Rather than buying packets of flavoured oatmeal, buy the organic grain in quantity and add fresh or dried organic fruits, nuts, or maple syrup. You can also make organic snacks to have handy instead of buying expensive, ready-made ones.

4. Planning is key

Creating an efficient plan is the key to making it all work. Draft a weekly meal plan, outlining what can be made ahead to lessen shopping and cooking stress. Scour your local library’s collection of cookbooks for recipes that fit your taste and budget so you don’t get bored with meals. Look for recipes with few ingredients but lots of flavour.

Remember that while cost usually coincides with quality, it is possible to get the health benefits of organic and still pay the bills–just think ahead and be creative.


Hummus is a great low-fat, high-protein alternative to dairy-based dips. Try it with chopped veggies, pita bread, or crackers.

1 18-oz (560 mL) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (125 mL) tahini
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp (110 mL) water
1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh ground pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Remains fresh refrigerated for up to 6 days.

Makes 1.3 lbs (600 g).

Price List

  • 1 18-oz (560 mL) can organic chick peas $1.58
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) tahini from 907-g container $0.62
  • 1 organic lemon $0.49
  • 1 clove organic garlic $0.10

Cost of Hummus:

  • 1.3 lbs (600 g) homemade organic hummus $2.79 – $2.32/lb
  • 3/4 lb (340 g) organic hummus in grocery store $4.00 – $5.88/lb
  • 1 lb (500 g) container of nonorganic hummus $4.99 – $4.99/lb


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