Tag Archives: community supported agriculture

Real Food Organic Groceries on a Budget

We’re a family of 3 living on a single income and that’s not always easy when you don’t eat processed or GMO foods and try to buy mostly organic.  But, you know, it can be done.

I do a video each month on my YouTube channel showing what I’ve received in my real food organic grocery order (and yes…the odd pizza might sneak its way in there!).  My grocery order has to accommodate myself (pescatarian and mostly gluten-free), my husband (full on meat eater) and our baby (can’t decide what she likes/doesn’t like from one week to the next!) as well as our dog.

We budget around £45-£75 per week (depending on whether its a ‘big shop’ or not) and I’ll let you know how we do it in 3 easy ways.

1. Meal Planning

This is the most important thing I do to save money and still buy the food I want to buy for my family.  There are many ways to meal plan.  There are meal planning services you can use for only a few dollars/pounds a month and this is great when you’re short on time.  If you can find 15 spare minutes per week though, you don’t need to use a service.  I’ll tell you how I do it.  I have a Pinterest account and keep a folder of favourite family meals that are tried and true.  If I’m short on time, I’ll choose 5 or 6 at random, check the ingredients list and add the required items to my grocery list.

2. Online Shopping

This isn’t an option for everyone, as not all areas offer online shopping, but if you are able to do this, I highly recommend it as it helps in avoiding making any ‘impulse buys’.  I just go online, stick to my list and check out.  A lot of grocery stores have delivery plans which are just a few £££’s a month you can do unlimited grocery orders without additional delivery charges.  I find I’m able to get the best variety of real food products and organic groceries at Ocado and if you’re a new customer, they’ll offer you £20 off your first online grocery shop (email me at ourlittleorganiclifeblog@gmail.com for your voucher).

3. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Box or Organic Delivery Box

Many rural areas run CSA schemes which support local farmers and are great value.  You will have to meal plan according to what’s in your box – so sort of reverse meal planning.  There are also non CSA style organic delivery boxes here in the UK such as Abel & Cole and Riverford Organics.  I get my organic fruit, veg & salad box with my Ocado order from a company called Wholegood.  Their fruit and veg are really good quality and they’re very generous with the volume of produce in their boxes.  They also let you know what you’ll be receiving in your box a couple of weeks in advance, which is helpful for meal planning.

Organic? Who has the time?

Ok, so not everyone has time to peruse the farmer’s market every weekend, slowly mulling over the decision about whether to buy strawberries or raspberries. In fact, as much as I love doing it, even I don’t always have the time. In an ideal world I would have a job where I could spend my days thinking, talking, writing, and musing about food. Oh yeah, and eating it too. But right now, like most of you, I have a busy job, where often a bowl of takeaway miso soup is all I get to quickly scoff at lunch. Its not until I get home in the evening that I can release my stress by aggressively crushing garlic with the flat of my 9″ chefs knife, passionately beating batter or losing myself in the pedantic process of creating a complex sauce. Even on the weekends sometimes I just don’t have the time, and this is why I have some quick tips on healthy, organic shopping for busy people.

Quick Tip One: Subscribe to an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Scheme.
These are sometimes called Farm Box Schemes or Vegetable Box Delivery Services. Whatever you call it, they’re really great. They’re all your seasonal, local vegetables (and sometimes fruits, if your scheme is big enough) packed in a box which is delivered weekly and safely stowed in an agreed spot, so when you get back from work on delivery day, your order is waiting for you. Some schemes are run by individual farms, some by larger farm cooperatives and some people have made small businesses out of it. Able & Cole in London have been able to partner up with meat, dairy and other producers so you can get almost an entire grocery order with your weekly delivery box. Of course, if you’re ordering meat and dairy, you’ll need to be home for the delivery so these can be safely tucked into the fridge right away.

Quick Tip Two: Online Grocery Shopping
Its the lazy way out, but if I know I have a crazy weekend coming up (hey its summer – there’s weddings, BBQ’s, parties, travelling around and social events with friends galore) I’ll spend a lunch hour at work doing an online shopping order, and I can still make sure that the bulk of my order is organic, without spending hours trawling through the non-organic produce. I tend to use the Ocado website, where I can create a shortlist of my preferences, such as ‘organic’ or ‘organic and wheat free’ or similar. Otherwise, just do a search for ‘organic’ and all the organic items will come up as a shortlist, and you can select the items on your grocery order from that. Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and I think even ASDA offer similar options.

 Quick Tip Three: Prioritise
So it’s 7pm and you’re just getting out of the office. You worked through lunch, so no time for an online order and you live alone, so how the heck are you supposed to eat a whole box of organic veg each week? If you’re eating any fruit or veg at all, chances are they’re gonna come from the shop on the corner. Use this handy list from the American Environmental Working Group’s website – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. Kind of obvious, but avoid The Dirty Dozen because they’ll up your pesticide intake, being the worst contaminated fruits and vegetables out there. Instead, if you aren’t able to buy organic, then try to go for the Clean 15, which are the least contaminated produce you can get.

The Dirty Dozen
Apples
Celery
Strawberries
Peaches
Nectarines
Grapes
Bell Peppers
Blueberries
Lettuce
Potatoes
Kale
Spinach

The Clean 15
Sweetcorn
Pineapple
Avocado
Asparagus
Sweet Peas
Mangoes
Eggplant
Cantaloupe
Kiwi
Cabbage
Watermelon
Sweet Potatoes
Grapefruit
Mushrooms