your list. Know what you can leave off the list if prices are higher than you
expect. Follow the Environmental Working Goup’s advice on the “dirty dozen”
items you should always buy organic (meat, milk, coffee, peaches, strawberries,
etc.), and which items it’s okay not to buy organic (onions, avocado, mango,
sweet corn, etc.). If you have trouble remembering have a very small shopping
companion who inevitably eats your list, get an app for your iPhone compliments
of Environmental Working Group. No iPhone? Get the PDF version.
a weekly menu. Plan to use the same ingredients in more than one dish. For
example, broccoli (one of the Clean Fifteen) might be used as an ingredient in a
stir-fry the first time, only to have it reappear later in the week as a side
dish. Just keep it simple—at least at first. The simpler the dish, the easier
it is to reinvent the leftovers.
Eat mostly plants. Organic meat, egg and dairy
selections are the priciest in comparison to their non-organic counterparts.
Think about it; you’re paying for a lifetime of animal care. Take a hint from
Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and “eat
mostly plants.” For a dish like stroganoff, replace half the meat with
mushrooms. Nondairy sour creams such as Tofutti can cost less than organic sour
cream but offer strikingly similar flavor. As for eggs, try ground flax as a
substitute when baking. (For one egg: 1 tbsp ground flax, 2-3 tbsp water,
microwave in 15 second increments until the flax has an egg-like consistency.)
You can buy a package of flax for nearly the same price as a dozen eggs, and it
can last you several months instead of just one week.Buy local first. Many farms offer what amounts to shares of their
farm. When you buy those ‘shares,’ you receive weekly, biweekly or monthly
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes filled with seasonal goods, plant
and/or animal. Visit LocalHarvest.org to search for a program near you. If
there isn’t a nearby farm to support, or maybe you know you won’t eat their
selections, start your weekly shopping trip at your local co-op or farmer’s
market. LocalHarvest will help you find those, too. (A small aside: Local
doesn’t automatically mean organic, so you should take advantage of the
opportunity to ask farmers at the market about their growing practices. Don’t
be shy.) No co-ops or farmer’s markets? Move—or cut yourself some slack.
Reap what you sow. Most likely you can’t raise
your own animals and wouldn’t want to, but you can raise your own veggies.
Consider a raised box if your neighbors treat their lawns and you’re worried
about runoff. You can buy one or build your own. Tomatoes grow nicely in larger
planters. Keep an herb garden with your most frequently used herbs on your
windowsill or front porch. This is also seasonally dependent, so think about the
vegetables and herbs you use most, what kind of time and space commitment you
can make, and maybe save your spare change in a piggy bank to get next year’s
If you are looking for organic fertilizers, click
to visit Conserv-A-Store and buy a quart of our Neptune's Harvest Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Natural
Buy what’s in season. You’ll find the best
prices, and the best flavors, on the foods that are ready to be harvested
today. Off-season greenhouse growth often comes with a higher price tag, and a
higher economic footprint.
Check the fridge, pantry and freezer before you
shop. You may have a whole meal waiting to be reheated. You may only need one
ingredient to create a main dish. Which brings us to:
Shop dry. Some dried beans, some water, and a
handful of herbs can be simmered on the stove one slow Sunday to produce a
savory main dish. Pair with a simple salad and homemade bread or plain rice.
While not necessary, a slow cooker is a great investment, especially as Fall
and Winter approach. As appliances go, it’s green and economical, coming in at
$1.22 for 40 hours of use on the Northeast Utilities System Appliance Usage
Buy in bulk. Get grains, coffees, teas and
cereals from bulk bins, and only buy what you need for the week unless the price
is at rock bottom. Then buy as much as you can without going over your week’s
budget. If you have some pennies left from last week (we call that rollover
cash), use that to stock up. Apply this to produce too, like blackberries. You
can easily freeze them for baked goods and smoothies later. If you can afford
it, go for it.
Pay with cash. We can’t tell you how many people
gave us this tip before some of our representatives tried it. The benefits are obvious, really. If you
can only pay with what you have in your hands, you pay more attention to what
you put in your cart and you don’t go over budget.
Splurge—at the end of the month. If you get to
the end of your pay period and there’s cash in your envelope, treat yourself or
throw a party. You’re a success!