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When you’re thinking about going organic, there’s usually one word that immediately comes to mind: cost. Yes, buying organic foods can be more expensive and some people have a very hard time justifying the increase in price. But keep in mind that there are many ways to stretch your dollar, especially when you’re buying organic food. If you’re already eliminating meat, diary, and other animal products on a vegan diet, then you’ve already saved a ton of money! These foods are often the most expensive to buy organic, meaning you’ll have much more money and resources to invest in organic produce, organic whole grains, and organic nuts and seeds. Remember that going organic doesn’t happen overnight, and it may take several weeks or months before your kitchen is completely organic. In the meantime, try these five tips for buying organic even when you’re on a budget. This way, you’ll be able to have your cake and eat it too (vegan cake of course!)

1. Ease Yourself Into It

If you’re new to buying organic food, remember to start small and make gradual changes. If you’re making a delicious pureed carrot soup, for instance, don’t feel obligated to purchase every ingredient for that dish organic. All you’ll end up with is an inflated receipt that will make you reconsider going organic in the first place! Instead, start gradually. Maybe you only buy organic carrots and organic veggie broth for the soup. The next time around, you might buy organic carrots, broth, and garlic, until gradually the whole recipe is organic. Maybe you start out by purchasing only organic if the items that are on the Dirty Dozen list. This is a much easier way to get adjusted to spending a little more money on food.

2. Overripe Bananas and Other Fruits Are Your Friends

Most health food stores have a section in the produce department where there are very ripe or almost overripe fruits. These items are usually discounted in price, so stock up! Buy loads of overripe frozen bananas, then remove the skin and freeze them for your smoothies or some vegan ice cream. You can take slightly overripe apples and make a mean vegan applesauce or other apple-based dessert. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Take advantage of these discounted fruits and put them to good use. Check out these 5 Ways to Transform Overripe Bananas Into Great Dishes.

3. Buy in Bulk

If you don’t have a membership to a bulk/discount store like Costco or BJ’s, we highly recommend it. If you have a really hard time justifying spending ten dollars for a tiny bag of quinoa, buying organic grains in bulk is one of the easiest ways to save money. The price per ounce for bulk grains is much more competitive than buying organic grains at your local grocery store. Better yet, grains keep for a long time, so you won’t have to worry about spoilage or waste.

4. Budget Your Meals For The Week Accordingly

Before you even go food shopping for the week, have a thorough plan of what you plan on buying and preparing that week. Write it out or even make a spreadsheet on your computer if you need to. Many health food stores have a weekly circular that lists various organic items on sale. Try to plan your meals around sale items. Also, make sure that not a scrap of food goes to waste. You’d be amazed by what kind of amazing vegan dishes you can make with leftover vegetables that are about to spoil and a handful of cooked whole grains.

5. Replace Empty Containers with Organic Options

Don’t waste time and money throwing away perfectly good spices and other non-perishable items at once simply because they’re not organic. Instead, as you finish a carton, box, or container of food, replace that item with an organic item. This is especially true for items like spices, which often undergo some of the worst chemical additive processes and are extremely important to purchase organic. Within a few months, you will have gradually filtered out all the nasty and chemical-ridden products from your pantry and have a much healthier, organic supply of ingredients!

Going organic doesn’t need to be a huge overhaul that stresses you out mentally and financially. Keep these tips in mind to make organic eating a painless and simple process while you reap the health benefits.

Image source: Michigan Municipal League (MML)/ Flickr