Organic food shopping can often feel like a major financial and time investment.  Since the 1990 USDA regulation, the organic industry has  transfigured from counterculture to big business. With this shift in dynamics, the organic food industry has also mutated, to some degree, into a diluted form of its original. As a result, those of us choosing the organic lifestyle must become more sagacious in our research and purchasing practices of organic foods and other products.

When considering the organic lifestyle, one must look at two of the biggest commodities impacted by this lifestyle:  time and money. A lifestyle revamping is a very personal venture, so we all must ask ourselves pointed questions before we begin. Simply, how much time and money can we allot toward our personal organic lifestyle?

Whether you are new to the organic world or an old hatter, there are some time and money saving points that can aid you in your evolving efforts. Cost savings first begins with a plan. Shopping lists are plans to keep you focused on your eating and shopping goals. A menu plan is often what commences the well-crafted shopping list. With organic food shopping, however, you must consider that more planning may be needed to get the best food at the best price. Organic food shopping is more than a mere chore; it is an action step toward a way of life.

Purchasing foods from the bulk section of stores creates a significant savings, because packaging costs are eliminated and quantity is determined by the customer. Furthermore, purchasing items that are not pre-packaged diminishes price. Affordable deals are also found by perusing regular weekly specials and on-sale items, browsing the paper, browsing grocery store and product internet sites for coupons, and by participating in membership loyalty programs that provide purchasing incentives from your favorite organic grocery storesWhole Foods, for example, lists coupons, money saving techniques, and budget-friendly recipes. Similarly, purchasing store brands or generic products such as Whole Food’s 365 Everyday Value products and Trader Joe’s own products saves money while maintaining quality.

Reducing or eliminating food wasting by recipe gathering, menu rotation, creatively reusing perishable items for other means can further cut costs.  Lastly, inventive cost saving ideas such as volunteering with your local CSA in exchange for a portion of the crops, splitting a CSA share with a friend, doing a veggie swap with friends to acquire other vegetables, joining a monthly cooking group that will use vegetables for recipes and spice up your routine or coupon swapping, all lead to cost cuts.

As you can see, there are many approaches to use for cost and time reducing measures with an organic lifestyle. Like any personal endeavor, we must decide how much to invest while maintaining a healthy balance. The choice comes back to you.