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How to Afford Organic on a Small Budget

Today I am excited to introduce you to our guest, Ruth Bowen.  Here is a little bit about Ruth:

Ruth Ann Bowen, a pastor’s wife and co-founder of the real food blog, Nurturing Naturally, spent twelve years working publicity in the Christian entertainment industry in Nashville, TN. Five of those years she ran her own PR firm, The Bowen Agency, and worked with clients including Big Idea Productions(VeggieTales), Women of Faith conferences, Chonda Pierce, and a variety of Christian authors and musicians. Now she has the “perfect job” combining her love for marketing and a passion for organic food. “There is a misconception in our society that eating organic food is expensive and time consuming. We show people it’s really not. Especially when you consider the cost we’re paying for ‘convenience’ foods with our health.”, Bowen explains.

Ruth writes:


It’s one of the first statements out of people’s mouths when I’m discussing the topic of eating organic: “Organic food is so expensive!” Well, yes…and no. I have to admit, when I first started noticing the prices of these “high end” fruits and vegetables I pushed my cart past them faster than Mario Andretti in an Indy 500 race. I was shocked and appalled that someone would charge $7.99 for an organic red pepper. After all, I grew up with a mother who taught me coupon clipping skills where the bar was to get money back when standing in front of the cashier with all your groceries. “I actually got a penny back!” my mom would announce.

I have since become a much more savvy organic shopper and much to my interior coupon clipping queen’s chagrin, I now purchase organic produce on a regular basis. It has taken some re-arranging with the family budget but we don’t feel “pinched” in any way or that we’re missing out on anything fun. We still go on family vacations, see movies in the theater (on the cheap day), tithe, save for retirement, etc.

Here are the ways my family has found to save and put those savings toward eating healthier:

Cut the Cable: The average American household spends $86/mo on cable. Now, I realize by not having cable TV this puts us in the VERY minority of American households, but trust me when I say, we don’t miss it. At all. We do have the Netflix plan of streaming only(no DVDs) which costs us $7.99/mo. This gives us access to some movies and TV shows so we aren’t entirely out of the loop.

Our two kids get one movie pick a week that we all watch together. That’s it. As a result the kids spend more time riding bikes, writing in their journals, reading, and just being kids running around outside. SAVINGS toward organic: $78/mo

Clothing: Another budget life lesson my mother taught me: never pay full price for clothing, especially name brands. The mark up is incredible; 500-1000%. (Check out this interesting site for the top ten items with the highest markups) So I happily shop at thrift stores and yard sales for some of the best deals on clothing. I would say that 90% of our household’s wardrobe is from thrift stores. Where else can you get a brand new Ralph Lauren sheath dress with the $178 price tag still on it for only $4.98? Granted finding deals like that don’t happen every day, but they do happen often enough making it worthwhile. And when the average American household spends $141/mo according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our approximate $50/mo gives us an added $91/mo to put towards buying organic groceries.

Eating Out: It’s one of the biggest budget busters for households. The average monthly bill for eating out runs about $208.75. We eat out about once a month at a local no brand name restaurant and our average tab comes to about $30. Our savings per month in this category: $178.75

DIY laundry detergent: I priced the cheapest laundry detergent at our local grocery store and it was $2.99 for approximately 42 loads (it was their generic brand). Making your own laundry detergent is a fun family project and can save you a considerable amount of money. This recipe makes 5 gallons and lasts our family for a year. So for about $10.00 a year we wash our clothes. AND, it works great! Because it’s not a bargain if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. I’ve gotten grass, mud, blood and chocolate stains out with this simple DIY recipe. No extra stain removers needed which helps save even more. So, even if someone purchased the cheap, no brand detergent at $2.99 once a month that still comes to $36 for the year. So our savings here is about $26. If you purchase the more expensive brands of detergent, then the savings goes up even higher.

I realize every family has different needs and some of these savings may not be exactly the same, but with a little re-directing of your family’s budget you may find areas where you can cut back or eliminate. Our family’s total savings per month in these areas comes to $373.75.

And even though these savings come without clipping coupons, I know my mom is proud!


Ruth Ann Bowen


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