Shopping Organic Can Get Expensive, So Naturally We Found 10 Ways to Save

A man shops for organic produce at a supermarket.
A man shops for organic produce at Lucky's Market in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
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I’m a sucker for anything deemed organic, especially milk.

My college roommates made fun of my weekly organic milk splurges, partially because I drank milk at the rate of a baby cow. But also because it was expensive — about $2 more per half gallon than “regular” milk; I actually checked once.

*Cue all Penny Hoarders cringing.*

But that was my choice and what I felt good drinking.

10 Ways to Save Money on Organic Groceries

If you’re in the same boat (or shopping cart) and prefer to buy organic products, know it doesn’t have to be expensive.

You might not be able to find a ton of coupons for your favorite products in the Sunday newspaper, but there are still tons of tools and strategies you can employ to save money.

Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Scan Your Receipt and Cash Out with Rewards (Yes, Even For Organic Brands)

Fetch Rewards is an app that houses tons of gift cards for all of your favorite stores — like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and more.

I’ve always liked it because you get rewarded just for buying toilet paper and other stuff you were planning on buying, anyway.

It’s also super easy to search for whatever organic brands you can get rewards for.

Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, or Walmart.

You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over 13 million people already have, so we must all be onto something…

2. Get Organic Products Delivered to Your Door

Ordering groceries online and having them delivered to your door saves so many headaches. (Plus, you’ll never have to run into that kid you went to high school with again.)

If you haven’t found your favorite online grocery platform, check out Thrive Market, which exclusively stocks organic products, including gluten-free, paleo, raw and vegan. Shopping categories range from food to pet care and health.

I recognized a ton of items I already buy at the grocery store.

For example, I love Lundberg Farms Organic Brown Rice Cakes — lightly salted, of course. But a pack of these suckers push $5, so I only buy them once in a blue moon. However, I can get them on Thrive for 33% off at $2.85.

I also like throwing chia seeds into my morning smoothies, but those are so, so pricy. If I buy the Thrive brand, I’ll save 50%, driving the price down to $7.95.

When you sign up for Thrive Market or download its app now, you’ll get a 20% off your first three orders.

Brb. I’m stocking up.

3. Try a Food Delivery Kit

If you want to get inventive with your meals without preparing #PinterestFails, consider subscribing to a food box.

For example, HelloFresh will send you a box full of farm-fresh ingredients with specific cooking instructions.

Note: While not all of HelloFresh’s ingredients are organic, some are and none are artificial.

The subscription is flexible, so if you’re out of town for a week, that’s fine. Opt for three, four or five meals a week.

For two people and three meals, that’s $60.

(Pro tip: Get $35 off your first order here.)

The ingredients aren’t necessarily organic, but they are fresh and sources from sustainable farms.

If you want to compare some other popular food boxes, we’ve got you covered.

4. Download This “Berry” Cool App

BerryCart is a cash-back app I just discovered — but will probably start checking.

It’s perfect for organic shoppers because it aggregates the best deals on organic, gluten-free and non-GMO products, so you know what you’re looking at is, well, organic.

It works just like Fetch Rewards in that you download the free app, find your favorite deals, buy ’em, then snap a photo of your receipt.

There’s no need to pick which store you want to shop at; just snap a photo of your receipt no matter where it’s from.

Here are a few examples of cash-back offers available right now: 75 cents back on Hope organic hummus, $2 back on NutZo organic nut and seed butter and $1 back on organic sparkling water.

The app seems like a neat way to earn cash back while also discovering new organic products.

Outside the realm of apps and websites, there are tons of other strategies to employ when shopping organic. Let me share a few…

5. Know Your Seasons

Whether you’re shopping for produce or meat, you’ll notice prices drop when something’s in season.

Take Heidi Medina’s advice. Her family lives on a budget, but she opts to buy organic meat. Like produce, meats have seasons, which will vary depending on where you live.

For example, beef season is typically after the first cold spell in the fall. You’ll likely find better beef prices then. Pork season, on the other hand, is later in the fall, after the pigs feed on the late-season fruits and nuts.

If you want to read all of Medina’s tips, we’ve got ’em here.

6. Learn How to Spot Your Favorite Store’s Organic Brand

We all know the generic store brands can save you money, but did you know many retailers also have a line of organic store-brand products?

Here are a few examples:

  • Aldi: Simply Nature
  • Kroger: Simple Truth
  • Publix: Greenwise
  • Safeway: Organics
  • Target: Simply Balanced
  • Whole Foods: 365 Everyday Value

Scout out your favorite store’s generic organic brand before your next grocery run.

7. Discover Your Local CSA

Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs connect consumers directly to the producers.

For example, your local beet farmer (Dwight Schrute, probably) will offer “shares” of beets to consumers in the area. These “shares” will likely come in the form of a bag or box of beets. Those consumers will pay a fee and receive the shares seasonally.

CSAs help the farmer, who can pocket the money early in the season, and it helps the consumer, who can eat local, ultra-fresh produce at a reduced rate.

For example, Penny Hoarder Kristen Pope joined her local CSA by purchasing a “quarter share.” For $9.53 per week, she received a box of fresh organic produce.

Check out local CSA offerings in your area at Local Harvest.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy in Bulk

Before you start filling up bags of organic nuts, grains and legumes, be sure to check the unit prices.

But chances are, you’re going to be able to save more by buying in bulk.

Some stores even have self-serve organic flours, honey and coffee beans.

Another perk of buying in bulk? You’re able to control how much you want or need, so that’s convenient, too. But if you end up with leftovers you can always stock up the freezer!

9. Take the DIY Path: Grow Your Own Organic Produce

Part of the reason I like buying organic is because I know pesticides and other nasty chemicals weren’t involved in the production process.

You can alleviate that concern when you take matters into your own dirt-covered hands and grow your own food.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now wondering how this is going to work, here’s a beginner’s guide. Read that.

You’ll also want to make sure what you’re growing is actually cost-effective, so here’s a list of vegetables that are cheaper to grow than buy.

10. Know What’s Worth Buying Organic

If you’re organic all the way, that’s fine: You do you.

But if you buy organic in anything and everything just because you feel like it’s better, well, maybe do some research.

Start here: Know what organic actually means.

It’s helpful to determine what is worth the splurge and what isn’t.

Bonus: Take a Trip to HomeGoods

You’re going to think I sound crazy because you don’t need organic furniture and decor.

But HomeGoods houses tons of organic items in its pantry aisle — typically in the kitchen section.

Find everything from discounted chia seeds and organic coconut oil to organic baking mixes.

I’ve found so many gems in that store. It’s hit or miss, but it’s worth a look on your next visit.

If you find that you do want to opt for organic, well, you now know how to save money!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’ll always splurge on her organic skim milk. So worth it.