There are many reasons to buy natural organic products and as many ways for students to do it. You can go all out and buy on a whim, you can be ultraconservative and stick to the bottom line or you can meet in the middle with a bit of both.
While most coupons are processed, non-organic foods, it is possible to find coupons for organic products. Some stores, like Kroger, will send coupons based on your buying habits (including for organics!) and newspaper circulars and mailings may contain them from time to time. Another option is to try the manufacturer’s website. They often have a deals or coupons page where you can sign up and print out coupons from time-to-time, and some are even monthly.
2) Loyalty & Rewards Programs
Unlike coupons, store loyalty and reward cards are often a bit more equal opportunity. It’s possible to get great deals on a variety of organic foods: frozen, fresh, and otherwise. If you have space, it’s a good idea to stock up on freezer and shelf-stable items when they are on sale. Also, keep in mind that many of these programs offer kickbacks for shopping with them. Fuel rewards, discounts, and other perks can add to your savings.
Also, keep an eye on store brands. Often you can get quality organic options for little more (and sometimes less) than their conventionally grown counterparts.
3) Buy Local
The pricing at your local farmers’ market may surprise you. In my experience, I get better quality and fresher foods at lower than grocery store pricing. In addition to savings, you may find a more exciting variety of foods – produce items, cheeses, prepared goods, and more.
By buying local, you can purchase healthier foods, save money, and support local families while you’re at it.
4) Buy In Bulk
As mentioned above, it’s a great idea to stock up on sale items if you have the means to store it properly. When sale prices aren’t an option, bulk stores like Costco and Sam’s Club offer organic food options in bulk, often resulting in significant savings.
You can also find bulk options with local farmers, by way of farm shares or the ability to purchase whole, or partial, livestock. You’ll need a freezer, and it is an upfront investment, but the savings can be substantial.
5) Shop What’s in Season (and/or On Sale)
You’ll notice that when apples are in season, they are bigger, more beautiful, and the price per pound takes a nice little dive. This is a great time to eat apples, and stock up if you’d like to make apple butter, pies, or other fun things over the winter!
This is true of many foods. When produce is in season, the prices can drop under half the cost of the off-season in some cases. I’ve seen Strawberries for $6 in the off-season and as low as $2 when in season. We love strawberries, but we will avoid them in the off-season because of the high price. By shopping the items in season, or on sale, you can save yourself a lot of money.
6) Shop Around
Comparison pricing is great, but be sure to keep your store loyalty rewards in mind. A few cents difference in price may not be worthwhile if the store is further, harder to navigate, or doesn’t offer an incentive program that rivals your usual spot.
Shopping online can even have advantages when considering non-perishable items. Sites like Boxed.com and Amazon Pantry offer competitive pricing and free shipping with a minimum order.
7) Keep the Big Picture in Mind
It is possible to buy organic without blowing your budget, but keep in mind that it can be a bit of giving and take too. Making your cleaning supplies and detergents, or using reusable products (as opposed to single-use items) can save you a lot of money. Some of these savings can be used to balance your grocery budget, if necessary or desired.
Meal planning and organization can help you optimize your budget and reduce waste. Plan around sales and in-season foods. Be flexible, too. If you find a great deal, swap out a recipe and use your new find in place of what you originally had planned.
Eating out can be fun but honestly, it’s generally not the healthiest option, and it’s expensive when compared to preparing a meal at home. Limiting take-out can also prove very helpful in reducing overall food costs.
Some healthier convenience foods can easily be made in your kitchen, saving lots of cash with little inconvenience. Kale chips, granola bars, baked goods, smoothie mixes, nut butter, and even almond-based milk are easy options to get started with.
10) Grow Your Own
Last but not least, you can always save a bit by growing your own foods. Herbs, greens, tomatoes, squash, and other items are often easy to grow (and are abundant). Not only will you have fresh food, but you will also get the benefit of being more closely connected to your food and nature. Grow as much, or as little, as you like, in a traditional garden plot or by container gardening in smaller spaces.