Choosing Organic Food on a Budget

Sometimes lifestyle choices such as organic, vegan and zero waste can seem something that is not accessible to the wider population or that they would be too time consuming and wouldn’t fit into your lifestyle. Whilst organic food is more expensive there are definitely ways to do organic on a budget and encourage small changes in your buying habits that will have an amazing impact to the planet in the long run. Here are our top tips for choosing organic on a budget:

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  1. Bulk buy! 

Whether you choose to bulk buy at the supermarket or through local independent refill stores, opt for as much as you can store at home - this can keep the costs down. By visiting local bulk food stores you are also sending a message to corporations that you want a change in the way we buy food as well as supporting your local community. South East London locals we recommend Naked Larder, a bulk food buying collective based in Herne Hill that have a wide range of organic and non organic bulk food options. 

2. Precision buy! 

How many spice jars have you bought and then not used for years only to find the spices have congealed at the bottom and you throw the whole thing out? There are plenty of independent retailers and refill stores selling things like herbs and spices that we often buy on a whim but never use the whole amount. What about raisins, or packs of lemons or chillis? You can bring your own containers and buy loose.

3. Spend your Mondays with us at Third Space Canteen

Come with friends or meet new ones every Monday at our weekly sustainable food club - our chefs create nutritious, balanced meals from sustainably-sourced ingredients and serve them in a socialspace. So if you don’t have time to cook, and want to learn more about food ad the planet as well as connect with like-minded people, come down and feast with us. 

4. Eat seasonally 

When you’ve always had access to so many different types of food, it’s hard to know what exactly is ‘seasonal’. Seasonal organic food will often be cheaper since importing fruit and veg from around the world out of season take a huge amount of energy and the costs are reflected in the price tag. You can find out what’s seasonal now or check out this handy Eat Seasonably calendar. 

5. Box schemes

There are so many organic box schemes which are a great way to try a bit more organic, they offer season fruit and veg and are largely local produce. We love OddBox, whilst not everything is organic, they rescue surplus food that would have otherwise gone to waste. We also love FarmDrop and Riverford, who offer a wide selection of organic food including meat and dairy.

Photo credit:  Riverford

Photo credit: Riverford

6. Less and better meat

Going organic doesn’t mean saying goodbye to meat. Reducing the quantity and improving the quality of the meat we eat can have an amazing impact on both our health and environment. Organic meat, either directly from the butchers, supermarket or even better, farm delivery scheme (like Riverford or FarmDrop), means you will be supporting a farming system with the highest standards of animal welfare.

7. Grow your own

Photo credit:  Riverford

Photo credit: Riverford

You may not have an allotment or even a garden but you can still grow your own on your windowsill. Start with herbs and maybe even a chilli plant and try out your green fingers. And just think how much money you can save and plastic you can avoid by growing your own mint! If you think you’d like to grow your own food but don’t have space, it’s worth putting your name down for an allotment at your local council, although wait times can be long. You can get Soil Association certified organic seeds at any local garden centre which ensures they are organic.

8. Meal prepping & freezer

If you can, dedicate one Sunday a month to meal prepping - it can be an all day affair (but that’s because I love to experiment with a whole range of recipes). Easy to make dishes like chilli and curries can be easily divided up and put in the freezer. Take them out to defrost before work and they’re ready when I get back home. Easy, no fuss and organic! 

Nicola Hearn