How to eat organic, even on a budget

Health

To be honest, it took me a while to get the importance of eating organic. For years, I was reluctant to pay more for organic produce. However, when I was pregnant with Elijah, something changed.

Pregnancy was a time I became more mindful of a lot of the choices I made in my life. Including the food I ate.

I couldn’t always control the chemicals I was exposed to each day, but I could control what was on my plate.

Slowly but surely, I started replacing conventional produce like berries or eggs, with their organic counterparts.

Now, having been pregnant twice, and feeding young kids, we eat organic whenever we eat at home. It is definitely more expensive. I do my best to make informed decisions and save where I can. Like most people with a limited disposable income, I want to make sure that I’m spending my money on things I really need.

If you’re like me, here’s how you can start eating organic, even if you’re on a budget.

Buy organic for the Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen is a list of the top 12 most heavily sprayed crops in the US. I recommend always buying these organic and being a bit more relaxed about the Clean Fifteen because they’re the least sprayed crops. For example, I always buy organic strawberries and spinach (the top two most sprayed crops in the US) but I don’t stress about bananas, avocados and grapefruit. I buy these fruits conventional.

Buy frozen

Frozen fruit and vegetables are a lot cheaper, especially when they’re not in season. I often buy frozen organic blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, when they’re not in season. The same applies with broccoli and bell peppers, especially when they’re too expensive to buy organic fresh.

The added bonus with frozen produce is that it’s pre-cut so its super easy to meal prep and cook!

Swap out meat

Personally, organic meat has become non-negotiable for me, especially when I’m pregnant or nursing. When you buy organic meat, you’re not getting the additional hormones and antibiotics that non-organic meat has. So I make the financial sacrifice there and I buy conventional fruits and vegetables from the Clean Fifteen list to save money.

However, if you can’t afford organic meat, try swapping out meat for beans and lentils a few times a week.

Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses.

1 cup of lentils has 17g of protein compared to 25g in the same amount of meat.

Plus, lentils are full of fiber, folate, iron and minerals such as calcium. Maybe experiment with substituting meat with beans or lentils 1-2 times per week and see how much you save and how you feel?

The great thing with beans and lentils is that you’ll be getting lots of protein, minerals and vitamins, along with lots of fiber to help keep you regular during pregnancy.

Crispy garbanzo beans

Not sure how to include beans and legumes in your diet? One of my favorite ways is to throw roasted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) into a salad. I throw them in with chopped up tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and feta cheese over arugula and spinach (you can add whole wheat penne if you like). Toss it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing.

What you need

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt & pepper

1 tsp paprika

What to do

Preheat oven to 400F (180C).

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.

Place the beans in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the beans.

Sprinkle sea salt, pepper and paprika over the beans.

Toss beans so they’re evenly covered with seasoning.

Place beans in a single layer on a baking tray.

Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Serve the beans still warm and crispy. Enjoy!