By Blythe Copland, Planet Green
If you’ve been hesitant to start buying organic food because it just plain costs more than regular, we understand—but we also think it’s worth spending a little bit more to keep your body and the environment healthy and strong. So with that in mind, we found eight places you can save on eating—from cutting your food budget by 40 percent to banking an extra $1,200 a year by using your leftovers—giving you enough extra to buy organic without thinking twice.
1. Cut Back on Take Out
When you start cooking at home more, your first few grocery trips might be more expensive than you’re expecting—after all, stocking up on spices and ingredients can add up. But once you have a pantry stocked with supplies, you’ll be surprised at how easy and cheap it is to whip up meals for just a few dollars—and once you try making your fast-food favorites on your own, you’ll get hooked on the health benefits and savings. Then you can put most of your takeout budget back into your grocery shopping budget.
Potential savings: Around 40 percent, based on an AARP report that the average family spends 42 percent of its food budget on meals prepared outside the home.
2. Become a DIY Cook
Putting in a little extra preparation effort in the kitchen can help you save even more: try making your own spaghetti sauce for the cost of two cans of tomatoes (about $2) instead of buying a $4 jar. Get out your food processor to make your own hummus with canned garbanzo beans, spices, and lemon juice or olive oil. Buy your veggies whole and chop them at home; buy packets of yeast to mix with flour and water for pizza dough; mix olive oil and vinegars for quick and cheap salad dressings. For more ideas, check out Marye’s list of 45 foods you can DIY, from baking powder and vanilla extract to nutella and bacon—and then think about the processed food, preservatives, and other weird stuff you’re cutting out of your diet by knowing exactly what goes into each dish.
Potential savings: Endless. This is another place where you might have to spend more at first, but the overall price of your meals will go down (and the quality will go up).
(Click through to the end, or click the left arrow, for a printable list.)