Organic on a Budget in India- Slash the Grocery Bill

Organic food has started featuring more and more in our staples and other grocery options. Over past three months we have consciously tried to include most if not all organic food options in our dietary chain. There are two main questions which I had before we got on the organic bandwagon.

  1. Can you even taste the difference, is there a difference?
  2. How much will it increase my budget?

The answer to above questions is yes and not much respectively from our last three months of experience.

The truth is most organic produce is expensive, and in many cases twice the price of generic store brand. Another truth is that a lot of that price is because of fancy packaging of the product. When we decided to switch our regular grocery items for organic options we were lucky to find a major promotional sale on a brand. That allowed us to get a few supplies (which we are yet to run out of) for quite cheap. If you go back and look at this expense report you would see our haul and we have been adding to the pantry little by little.

We are yet to go over our budget because we bought a lot of organic food options. This was a major surprise for me because I was really sure we would easily triple our monthly expense. Here I have to admit we are short of organic options for a lot of things we eat especially pasta and noodles which is am sure I can’t make at home. Instead of talking generally let us talk about the specifics.

Buying less = wasting less=spending less

Organic Staples which will last us over 3 months. Total cost- ~1150/-
Organic Staples which will last us over 3 months. Total cost- ~1150/- (and a few regular food)

We like most people out there love shopping, but unlike them we go extra mile to find a few deals. This meant we were buying a lot on cheap prices, but the fact that we were eating out a lot (see our June expense report) meant a very small portion of this was actually getting used. This meant a lot of wastage and a lot of food unwillingly donated to the pests and bugs of the house.

We now buy only enough so that we consume it in next 2-3 months for dry staples and week or so for fresh produce except dairy. Dairy lasts a lot longer if you buy the right kind and store it right. Our grocery bills are right where I would like them and include a lot of ingredients you would probably not find in most Indian kitchens like Asian sauces, balsamic vinegar, olives etc. We also buy pasta, noodles, tortillas and more which add to the grocery bills in big chunks.

No Sugar- not even Organic

We are both savory people and enjoy savory food and beverages more than their sweetened counterparts. Though we enjoy aerated drinks every now and then they are never a part of our monthly grocery haul. Not only does this shave off a bit from our grocery bills it has also reduced a lot of junk from our diet. We also consume less than half a kg of actual sugar between the two of us in a month. For this year the store near us is running a promotion for free sugar every first 1000/- you spend in a month. We send this to the ‘rents and have been transferring the savings to eating real organic food.

No junk food= more money for real food

You will notice very few potato chips will ever have organic written on them and those which do, come at a great price. We have of late reduced our consumption of snacks and any saving gets transferred to eating organic actual food. To be true we still have a long way to go to completely get the junk out of our food but the reductions we have made are clearly evident in our budget and food habits as well. My next goal is to make some snacks ourselves using our organic supply just to know what goes into our bodies.

Research the hell out of everything

Organic food is expensive till you are buying it from anywhere. The only way out of higher prices is to grow/farm it yourself or to research the hell out of the products. Our research and curiosity (as with anything financial) has helped us keep the costs down as well as find organic produce when we thought none existed. Like the organic milk we stumbled upon while browsing the aisles of the supermarket. With the offer on the milk it came out way cheaper than our current non organic UHT milk. Similarly yesterday I discovered that one of the bigger online grocery shops have their own brand of organics which is 10-20% cheaper than the branded ones we bought last few months.

Grow Organic Yourself

Like making our own snacks growing our own food is something which I am currently looking at with great interest. Today’s task is to scout our apartment’s terrace and see if we can put in place a few plants there. My currently rewarding exploits are in organic sprouts. I have been growing them successfully to quite good lengths from organic mung beans I brought. Barely an hour a week allows us to munch on these for snacks or include them in our meals multiple times. To be true you might hear about a boutique sprout shop soon.

All of the above will help you not just eat organics on cheap but they can be implemented to simply reduce the grocery bills whatever the eating habits might be. If you have better solutions for us to help us lower our bills and eat better (especially if I can use it in India) that would be awesome.

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