At least once a week, my husband and I will be out for a walk and see someones beautiful vegetable garden, full of summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries...and the green produce monster of envy overcomes me.
One day, I say, I will have a beautiful vegetable garden full of goodies, and a little chicken coop so that I can have fresh eggs. I picture all my future kids, dirt under their fingernails, happy smiles on their faces, carrying baskets of beans, zucchini and basil, and collecting eggs from the hen house every morning...ah... :) Maybe some day.
Until then, I try to take advantage of grocery store sales matched with coupons for as much of my shopping as possible, but I have to weigh what is worth couponing for, and what is worth buying organic. Most of the time, I will only buy organic apples, berries, lettuces, other soft-skinned fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, chicken, and beef. If the "organic" chicken or beef is just too outrageous (which it often is), I will buy the "natural" version- which, while not USDA certified organic, contains no hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.
With the fruit and vegetables, it's clearly the pesticides that concern me- especially if it's an apple or head of lettuce that you won't be peeling. Rinsing your fruits and veggies in the sink when you get home is always a good idea in order to wash away general dirt and grime from being handled in the store, but doesn't do anything for the chemical residue. Pineapples and bananas, for instance, I don't stress as much about.
When it's milk and meat, the big fear is the nasty hormones and antibiotics that have been pumped into the product in order for mass production. My hormones are already messed up enough as it is; I don't need a boost of fake chicken hormones too, thank you.
Great! But what about the cost? It is definitely more expensive to buy higher quality food, but fear not: coupons do exist! Just this week, my grocery store sent me a "natural and organic foods" coupon booklet, which, while only about 6 coupons, was a very fun surprise. Websites like Money Saving Mom feature weekly organic coupon deals. Many organic or natural companies offer coupons on their website or Facebook page, just for signing up or "liking" them (I have a second email address that I use to register for things like this). Try Muir Glen, Seventh Generation, Stoneyfield, Udi's, Athenos, Silk, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi, for starters. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, you know that often times their prices are amazing and they have great organic foods- but did you know that they also accept coupons? Check out Healthy Life Deals for their weekly coupon match-ups! Also, Whole Foods offers a printable coupon section on their website.
Don't forget about the farmers market, either!
Let me know if you have any other great tips for buying healthy foods!