Budget Organics: Happy Family, Happy Wallet

By GreenUp! Community Blogger: Monique

Feeding my family healthy, organic, sustainable foods is one of the closest values to my heart. Running a near second is my love of a bargain. So I thought I’d share with you my tricks and tips for organic grocery shopping on the cheap.

First and foremost, stick to buying organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen” and buying non-organic when it comes to the “clean fifteen“. You can even download a PDF or smart phone app listing your organic friends and foes to guide you through the grocery store and farmers markets.

Now that you’re ready to shop, check out my recommendations for these bargains around town. I’m focusing on those that pack a nutritional and taste-bud-worthy bang for each buck spent.

Trader Joes

  • TJ frozen organic wild blueberries: I find it’s cheapest to buy blueberries frozen rather than fresh. For about $4 you get three times the amount you’d get fresh. And frozen is just as nutritious! My 22-month-old calls these “ice”. I fill his snack cup with them and he enjoys a frozen treat. Though, beware, they are messy! You can also easily throw these into muffins, pancakes, and smoothies.
  • TJ organic micro-greens. – Consider these sprout-like greens a veritable farm in a bowl–we’re talking broccoli, mizuna, red mustard, red cabbage, khale, collards & amaranth! I chop these finely and add them to my son’s egg salad, smoothies, chicken salad, muffins, rice, pasta, & sandwiches. Tasty, healthy and a steal at $2.49.
  • TJ organic canned beans. Though never as tasty as crock-potting your own from dried organic beans, these are great in a pinch and the cheapest in town ($1.19/can). Also, Trader Joe’s maintains their canned beans do not use BPA in the lining. Even Whole Foods won’t make this disclaimer.
  • TJ organic chicken drumsticks. At just around $4 for six drumsticks, this is one inexpensive, sustainable and healthy way to bring meat to the table, if you’re into that kinda thing.

TJ’s also has the best prices on bulk bags of organic apples and organic russet potatoes, but these just are not nearly as tasty as what I can get at the farmers markets. So I tend to buy a couple of organic apples and potatoes and savor every moment of them!

Nijiya Market

This charming, little taste of Japan in West LA offers some of the best-priced produce grown on it’s farm in San Diego. As if that wasn’t enough reason to visit, the people who work here are also just plain NICE, and stepping into this store is like falling down a rabbit hole that leads to Japan. Love-fest aside, there is no better place to score deals on organic mushrooms, especially those that are highest in health benefits like shitakes, enokis and maitake ($2.99) mushrooms. Organic broccoli sprouts are also a steal here ($2.49). Everyone knows broccoli is good for you; how much easier does it get than just munching on a handful of sprouts or layering your sandwich with this powerhouse food? But have you noticed how difficult it is to find organic broccoli sprouts? I also scored organic spinach for under $2!

The market also offers great prices on fresh sushi (with organic brown rice) and wild caught salmon. Be sure to check the labels on the fish, though, to ensure you’re following sustainable guidelines. One cautionary note: many of the prepared (and, yes, oh-so-delicious) foods contain MSG–so read your labels carefully.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts with recommendations on the best places to buy organic bulk / bin goods and the best deals at local farmers markets!

– Cheers Monique

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