Be savvy and eat organic on a budget

If you’re savvy and plan ahead, organic doesn’t have to cost much more than a usual supermarket shop, writes Alex Ryder.

One of the main arguments you hear against organic food is the price. It’s perceived as being too expensive. In reality, I think this argument is only partially true. Consider the air miles, the animal welfare and the potential impact of intensive farming practices on our environment.

All of that said, I understand that I’m typing this from a privileged position. For me, a couple of quid isn’t going to break the bank. I’m able to choose to eat organic because I can afford it. I can preach about saving the planet and higher animal welfare standards because I have those extra pennies in my pocket. But let’s be honest, I don’t have that many pennies. I lost my job in August through redundancy, and while I job hunt, I’ve been pulling my belt in. It’s meant that I’ve been searching for ways to reduce my food spend and you know what? Eating organic doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does take some dedication.

I’ve realised that you might need to shop around, but if you’re savvy and plan ahead, organic doesn’t have to cost much more than a usual supermarket shop.

Buying reduced organic food in bulk and freezing can help save money. Image @GingeyBites.

I’ve been hitting the reduced section hard. Organic meat is more expensive, and there’s no getting away from that. You’re paying for farming techniques, smaller crops, lower yields, legislation and regulation. Ultimately, that organic stamp on your leg of lamb or chicken symbolises a better product. A tastier piece of meat that has come from an animal raised with higher welfare standards and on a farm which practices environmentally friendly farming techniques. I’ve also found that some organic meat goes a lot further. A couple of richer sausages do the work of a packet in a stew, chicken breast don’t shrivel into nothing in the pan.

Waitrose and Sainsbury’s usually have a decent range of organic meat, and this often ends up in the yellow sticker section, but you’ll really hit the jackpot if you visit your local organic supermarket or farm shop. Our Riverford veg box, with the addition of eggs and milk costs around £14.00 and for the amount of food we get, I don’t think that’s a lot of money. A quick tot-up on the Sainsbury’s website brings a similar non-organic shop to just under £9.00.

I appreciate that independent organic supermarkets don’t exist everywhere. If you’re lucky enough to live in Bristol, Brighton or London, for example, places like Better Food Co, HISBE and Planet Organic are your best friends.

If there is reduced price meat on offer, I buy the lot and stick it in the freezer. I do the same with vegetables. This requires a bit more time as you will need to cook them pretty soon after purchase.

If you can get your hands on a lot of one or two items, I’d recommend cooking them into stews, soups and sauces and then freezing them. Aubergines and courgettes are perfect for vegetable curries, and pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes always tastes better than tinned. Think creatively – leafy greens and root veg can be turned into stock. Freeze it in sandwich bags, jars or  ice cube trays. Chillies freeze well too, as does milk and even cheese. There are so many things we can freeze. Did you know, for example, you can even freeze mashed potato? 

Your shopping might take a little longer, and require some time in the kitchen to prep food into freezable states but if you have the time, it’s worth it for the satisfaction in knowing that you’re able to shop organic even when money is tight.


Leave a Reply

  1. I find that meal planning is key to be able to stick to a budget. It means you waste less, buy just what you need and avoiding those panics buys when there’s nothing in the fridge. Also, if I’m making a curry, a stew or something similar, I to cook twice as much and freeze the extra portions. And soup! You can make pretty much anything into a soup and it freezes really well.

    Like you Alex, I lost my job this year and so I’m also on a mission to keep buying organic whilst watching the pennies.

    1. Thanks Jackie, I’m all about the meal planning too! And soup is a great idea, I totally forgot to include that in my piece!

      Good luck on the job hunt, it’s tough out there right now!

  2. Organic or not these are really good pieces of advice especially to reduce food waste. If I’ve cooked too many veg for a meal I use the leftovers in a soup the next day – a little blue cheese added is nice . A veg box also makes me think really creatively about what we eat as well.

    1. Hi Lynne, great to hear that the veg box is inspiring you to cook creatively and reduce food waste.


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