• Erin

Making organic work for your budget


Eating healthy can be very expensive. I switched over to all-organic foods in 2008, and the last 10 years have been a journey to find ways to make it more affordable.


It started with going to a high-end grocery store where making 5 dinners a week for 2 adults (with leftovers for lunch) was costing around $125. And even then, it wasn't all organic.


I have chiseled it down to just under $4500/year, which is about $84/week. For FOUR people.

And it is 95% organic.


My trick? Trial & error. The last 2 years have been the most "profitable" so to speak, so I think I have found the formula, and I want to share it with you!


I tried lots of things like Butcher Box, Door To Door Organics, shopping at several different stores-including Costco. Now, I order from the local co-op once a quarter for my meats & grains, shop at Aldi, and signed up with a local CSA.


THE BREAKDOWN

(based on yearly cost):


Quarter Cow/150lbs-$1000

120lbs Chicken -$500

Quarter of Pork/80lbs Pork-$250

Eggs- $200

CSA-$460

Country Life (grains, nuts, seeds, pasta) $300

Frontier (spices) $75

Supplemental Produce during off season $550

Organic Dairy $1000



The Details & Tips:


Quarter Cow comes from a local farm. I always order one in the Fall, as I prefer beef that has been grazing the last 6 months. The taste, texture, and fat ratio is what I enjoy best. A quarter comes with around 60lbs of ground beef, 20 sets of steaks, and about 30 more pounds of various other cuts like soup bones, actual bones, ribs, and organs.

  • Pro Tip: You can choose your cuts when you order in bulk like this! We don't do roasts, so I request extra ground beef rather than roasts.

  • Pro Tip: I use Round Steaks for anything you would use a roast for.

I order chicken from a local store who obtains their chickens from local farms. The chicken is "made to order", so it is incredibly fresh.

  • Pro Tip: When there is a sale, I order in bulk to maximize my dollar. I divide the bags up into proper portions for dinners, so that I am only thawing what I need, while not wasting.

  • Pro Tip: I purchase whole chickens when on sale, bake & use the breasts for dinner that week, then use the dark meat to make pulled chicken for various uses like chicken enchiladas, burritos, and soups. I then take the rest of the chicken, cover in water in a stock pot, and add herbs and leftover vegetables*. I simmer this for 24 hours, strain, then portion in quarts so that I have delicious broth for soups.

Quarter of Pork. I order a quarter of pork, which is quite a lot. We also get this from a local farm. This gets you 1 slab of ribs, 1 set of country style ribs, 3 various roasts, 1 small hams, 1 ham steak, about 20 pork chops, 6 packs of bacon, 2 sets of cottage bacon (my fave!), 5 pounds of various sausages (you get to choose what kinds you like & mix & match), 5 pounds of bulk sausages (again you get to choose), as well as other items like leaf lard, shanks & hocks.


I order my eggs through the local-co-op. They are so fresh, that they last up to 6 weeks.


CSA. Now this is a game changer. If you noticed, the CSA runs $460 and gets us our produce for 26 weeks. Supplemental produce for the rest of the year costs $550. The savings may seem not like a lot, but I can tell you that the other 26 weeks out of the year, we are not getting the vegetables we should be, and certainly not the quality. Our CSA boasts with greens, kohlrabi, squash, micro-greens, carrots, potatoes, onions, shallots, scapes & garlic, radishes, turnips, leeks, and much more. In the winter, I admit, we eat a lot of frozen broccoli. Our salads and pastas are filled with all sorts of green tops & random items I never even think to buy from the grocery store.

  • *Pro Tip: Remember the "leftover vegetables" from the stock? I save scraps, even onion peels, and freeze in bags. This is what I use to season stocks.

  • Pro Tip: I make pesto out of anything that looks green. I freeze into ice cubes so that I can have some fresh herby fiber & flavor in the summertime.

  • Pro Tip: I was able to winter tons of potatoes, onions, shallots & carrots by putting them next to a dehumidifier in the basement.

  • Pro Tip: I did my best to flash freeze or can anything that I wouldn't be able to eat before it went bad.

  • Pro Tip: Next year, I plan to pickle!

Country Life. Buying in bulk is key! This is where I purchase my organic grains like rice. Legumes like split peas, chick peas. Beans like pinto & black. I also purchase organic pasta from here. You can find them at www.clnf.org

  • Pro Tip: Find a local co-op who runs this so that you do not have to pay an outrageous delivery fee!

Frontier. This is a co-op based in Iowa. They have all sorts of natural goods, but I mainly use them for spices. They have their own organic brand, which I purchase in bulk. Onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, cumin, salts & peppers, taco seasoning, ranching seasoning, nutritional yeast, and lots more! You can find them at www.wholesale.frontiercoop.com

  • Pro Tip: A membership is only $10/year! The downside is that you have to pay for shipping for anything less than $250. You can join a local group for free that runs Frontier, and for a small fee (way less than your shipping) they will organize a buy to obtain free shipping.

Supplemental Produce. Our CSA doesn't have fruit, so we have to get our berries, apples, oranges and bananas elsewhere. My kids have sensitivities to melon, mango & pineapple, so we can't do a lot of other fruits anyway...which frankly cuts that bill down a bit.

  • Pro Tip: Aldi has organic spinach and broccoli in the frozen section for $1.79! They have organic blueberries frozen for $2.59!

  • Pro Tip: I buy lots of apples when they are on sale and make applesauce and freeze.

  • Pro Tip: When out of season, I adhere to the Dirty Dozen rule only for organic.

Organic Dairy. Shockingly, Aldi has an amazing section for this. We purchase all of our milk, yogurt, and sour cream from here. I have not found an organic cottage cheese I love yet, so that is still conventional for us.


This requires thought and preparation. I do meal planning, and that makes it much easier. Follow my other articles for meal planning ideas!


If you live local to Metro Detroit, you can find all of the co-op opportunities I wrote about by going to www.metrodetroitcrunchyclub.com


I created the co-op because nothing like this existed in my area, and it has been the best way to feed my family!


Thanks for reading!


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