Feeding your kids organic food can be tricky. On the one hand, you’re worried about plying your little ones with antibiotics, hormones, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, and the effects they might have on growing bodies. On the other hand, organic food can be expensive. And that expense is no joke. I once chose three organic apples, reached the checkout, and was told they would be $9. I put them back. For parents on a budget (and that’s pretty much all parents), it can help to know which foods are worth buying organic and which aren’t. That’s why we’re sharing these 10 simple tips for eating organic without breaking the bank
Here are our 10 tips for eating organic on a budget:
Know your fruits and vegetables 1 of 10For fruits and vegetables, we recommend knowing the "dirty dozen" (the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies) and the "clean fifteen" (the 15 least contaminated), so that you are focusing your organic spending where it matters the most. â€¨
Learn more about the dirty dozen and clean fifteen
Organic dairy is important 2 of 10For dairy, we advise always going with organic. A conventional dairy cow is like the total package when it comes to things you're trying to avoid feeding your kid — frequently pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, and fed on corn covered in chemical pesticides and fertilizer. This is definitely something you want to avoid feeding your baby if you can help it. Instead, go for an organic yogurt like YoBaby plain. Wholesome, rich, and creamy, it's an ideal snack for even the littlest eaters.â€¨
Make raspberry fools with organic yogurt
Bulk up 3 of 10If your family eats a lot of oatmeal (or another pantry fave), you might want to opt for organic. Look for stores that sell organic staples like dried beans, grains, nuts, and flours in bulk, since bulk items are often much cheaper than their pre-packaged counterparts. Organic dried beans can be as little as $3.00 a pound (which cooks up to about 7 ½ cups), compared to $1.79 for a 15 oz. can of organic beans.
Make hearty baked beans
Eat seasonally and close to home 4 of 10Simply put, seasonal ingredients are heartier, more flavorful, and shelf stable than their out-of-season counterparts. Want an apple (organic or otherwise) in June? Chances are, that apple began its life in the southern hemisphere, and the journey around the world is going to cost you. Instead, head out to the farmers market, speak with you local growers, and buy whatever was picked that week. Many farmers are not certified organic but use techniques like integrated pest management (IPM), or low-spray. These organic alternatives can save you some cash, and keep pesticides out of the little ones you care about.
Make homemade apple sauce
Get to know your butcher 5 of 10Since meats can be plied with so much of the bad stuff, opting for organic is optimal. Ask your butcher for less expensive cuts that won't skimp on flavor. For instance, organic chicken thighs are frequently half the price of chicken breasts, and organic braising cuts are far cheaper than many cuts of steak.
Make lamb ragu with sauteed greens
Veg out 6 of 10Sources of vegetable protein, like dried beans and grains, are far less expensive than meats. Consider adopting a "meatless Monday" tradition, or look to small cuts of organic meat to flavor mostly veggie meals — think ham hocks and slab bacon.
Make eggplant burgers with tzatziki
â€¨Image: Aggie Goodman
Clever casseroles save time and money 7 of 10The casserole has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years, but if you're a busy parent, they're a lifesaver. Stock up on organic noodles, beans, and cheese, and throw together a healthy, and tasty, casserole that can be heated up in minutes.
Make vegetable lasagna
Make the most of your freezer 8 of 10Blueberries are a huge hit in my house, and I love giving them to my daughters since they're also incredibly healthy. But thin-skinned blueberries regularly top the dirty dozen, so you definitely want to opt for organic. Consider stocking up on blueberries by freezing them yourself. Simply rinse and dry the berries, line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, spread out the berries, freeze for several hours, and bag them up. Blueberries in February? No problem.
Make Meyer lemon bread pudding with blueberries
Back to basics: Canning 101 9 of 10Besides being a fun way to get sauce/fruit/soup all over every inch of your kitchen, canning is a great way to save organic ingredients for the winter months. Enlist your grandmother for a tutorial — once you have the basics down, home canning is surprisingly simple.
Make your own canned tomatoes
Keep things fun 10 of 10When all else fails, pick up some organic butter and sugar and make a treat. Don't have time to bake? Give the kids a great on-the-go treat like YoBaby yogurt. They'll love yummy flavors like blueberry or strawberry banana.
Learn more about the importance of organics
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