Groceries can make or break your budget so easily. With the rising prices of food right now added to a growing family and trying to make better choices, it can be a recipe for disaster as far as a budget goes. That is, unless you plan a little and shop from the right places. I am going to share the best on-line organic food stores that I purchase all my favorite healthy foods from and still manage to save money in the process.
*Affiliate Disclosure: I do have affiliate links in this blog post. If you purchase something from my link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. This comes at no cost to you, but is paid by the company. I do not take becoming an affiliate with any company lightly. If I am, it’s because I believe in the company and their product.
Why is organic food so important?
Organic food can definitely cost more and be a tough swap to make if it isn’t in your budget. So, the question is, why is it so important and is it really worth it?
The differences between organic food and conventional food are many. But I want to focus on 2 main differences that make the choice to eat organic so important. The first reason that choosing organic is so important is that organic foods are grown without the use of most synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers for three years before harvesting the food, as defined by the USDA. And this does mean a lower toxic load for you and your family.
This small study found that “an organic diet was associated with significant reductions in urinary excretion of several pesticide metabolites and parent compounds.”
The other reason that it is so important to choose organic is that organic food has actually been found to be more nutrient dense. If you are going to be choosing healthy foods, you want to make sure they have the nutrients in them that your body needs. This study, which was an analysis of 343 peer reviewed publications, found organic plants had more antioxidants, phenols and polyphenols.
It was even concluded in the study that switching from conventionally grown crops to organic would result in a 20-40% increase in antioxidant/(poly) phenolic intake. In other words, this increase in these nutrients is the equivalent of 1-2 servings MORE of fruits and veggies without consuming any more food.
So between having MORE nutrients and LESS toxic chemicals, you can see why organic food is so important. But on top of that, I have noticed that organic food is so much more flavorful – which is just an added bonus!
Why is organic food more expensive?
Organic food is more expensive for a few reasons. First, when there are no chemicals being used it does mean there are more labor hours put into the crop. It is certainly faster and more efficient to use chemicals, but that comes at a cost to our health and the earth. Secondly, shipping practices are different between organic and conventional crops. A conventional crop, due to its use of chemicals, produces more and is able to be shipped in larger quantities. Unfortunately, an organic crop produces less, is shipped in smaller quantities and therefore the shipping rates are higher. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there is mandatory separation of organic and non-organic produce, especially for processing and transportation. Lastly, the USDA organic certification is expensive to get and to maintain.
Food for thought, I actually like to look at it more like, why is conventional food so cheap? Even the Organic Farming Research Foundation explains it like this:
“The organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals, the health and environmental costs of which are borne by society.”
Why does buying from an on-line retailer help you to save money?
The biggest reason you can save when grocery shopping on-line is that there is no middle man. You are buying straight from the retailer instead of having the product shipped (which equals cost!) to a grocery store, where they will mark up the price and then you have to physically go and buy it. But not with on-line grocery shopping. When you use any of these amazing on-line retailers, the product is shipped straight to you without that markup that is happening in the grocery store. Plus, it is obviously so convenient!
Tips For Saving Money When Shopping Online
It can be so much easier to shop online these days, especially as a busy mama. I’ve been shopping online for several years now and have learned a thing or two on how to optimize the experience. Sharing them all below!
- Save Money On Shipping- Avoid paying for shipping by making sure that you hit the minimum for free shipping. Most brands offer free shipping over a certain amount. Make sure and avoid paying for shipping costs by hitting that each time. It also helps when you do this because you avoid having to order as much which saves time!
- Wait For Sales- If you’ve followed a brand long enough, you’ll probably notice when they have sales or can start to see a pattern. If you’re new to the brand, just email them and ask! Often it might just take getting on their email list to be the first to get updates on sales and promotions.
- Abandon Your Basket- Often if you load up your basket but then don’t purchase, brands will then send you a coupon in your email to incentivize you to purchase. A great tactic if you’re wanting to save a little on your order.
- Sign Up On Their Email List- I mentioned this in the Wait For Sales tip but it’s worth mentioning again. Most brands have a coupon for first time buyers when they sign up for their email list. A great way to try out a new brand and save some money.
- Subscribe For Certain Items- If you know you will need an item or product continually, subscribe for it if possible. Amazon does this with their Subscribe and Save feature but more brands are starting to as well. When you subscribe, you typically get a lower price point and are able to save some money.
- Check Deals Online And Then Check Brick and Mortar- Sometimes you can get a better deal online, but a brick and mortar store will honor the price if you show it to them in store. A great way to save if you’re wanting to shop online but want to avoid shipping costs.
3 Best On-Line Organic Food Stores
I have narrowed it down to my three favorite on-line organic food stores. These are tried and true food stores I am always using to get good food for my family.
I’ve been shopping at Vitacost for several years now and I absolutely love them! It really is my go to for healthy pantry staples. I love knowing I’m buying the best natural pantry staples, but not paying an arm and a leg! Plus, their shipping is always so speedy. I order and then in 3 days I get my shipment. I’m also always getting coupon codes in my email. From 15% off, to 20% off! You really can’t beat the coupons they send. The trick is to order large orders and then they’ll want you to come back to purchase, so they’ll send you a coupon to your inbox. Last order I saved $89 by using a 16% off coupon!
Vitacost has no membership fee. They offer over 40,000 products at reasonable prices with many options to save even more on these products.
They offer FREE shipping on orders over $49 or over $25 for the Vitacost brand and other select brands. They also ship to 150+ other countries. All shipping information can be found here.
Vitacost Pros & Cons
- They offer all the natural pantry staples and household items that you could want.
- They are constantly running a sale of some kind or offering coupon codes.
- They offer speedy delivery and shipping.
- I’ve only had one box with a broken item. Other than that they’re always packed great and I’m not missing items.
- It’s easy to reorder items you continually get on their site.
- Sometimes they are out of stock of things(not all the time but occasionally)
- I wish they sold larger bulk items.
My Favorite Vitacost Products
- Lundberg Rice- I love this rice because it’s been tested and shown to have the lowest amount of arsenic in it.
- Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar(with the Mother)- We love this apple cider vinegar for cooking and baking, but also so many other home remedies.
- Kettle and Fire Bone Broth- This bone broth is my favorite to have on hand if we run out of the homemade broth. It doesn’t have any weird additives in it.
- Chosen Foods Avocado Oil- I love this brand of Avocado Oil. So many brands have been found to have mixed oils and not just avocado oil in them. This one has been tested to be pure! I used to get it from Costco but then they started to carry it in plastic and not glass unfortunately, oils can soak up a lot of the plastic- so I choose glass instead.
- Jovial Products- I love getting my gluten free Jovial pastas from Vitacost and their organic tomatoes. They are not only organic, but also come in glass, which is really important when buying tomatoes since they’re so acidic.
- Emperor’s Kitchen Organic Chopped Garlic- I love getting minced garlic. It’s easy to have on hand when I need garlic for a recipe and don’t want to take the time to use fresh garlic. This comes in glass and has a good flavor.
- Bionature Tomato Paste- This is organic and comes in glass. The only brand I’ve found that comes in glass for a tomato paste.
- Alternative Flours- I buy a lot of my alternative flours from them. Flours like coconut flour, tapioca, arrowroot that I use for cooking and baking.
- Vanilla Extract- I’ll stock up on Vanilla Extract through Vitacost too.
- Coconut Oil- Love getting jars of coconut oil from Vitacost. They come in glass which I love. Since it’s an oil it can soak up the plastic. A lot of coconut oils are stored in plastic and not glass, that’s why I choose the glass for my coconut oil storage.
Amazon really makes it so easy to shop and save money! I realized several years ago that they carried so many natural and organic products. Not only could I get them for a good deal but with Prime I could get them quickly as well- sold! I also feel like they carry a lot of specialty grocery items that I often can only get at health food stores or Whole Foods, which makes it hard when you live in a small town like myself and the nearest Whole Foods is an hour away. This really helps to save time and money in the long run when you can purchase from Amazon.
You can purchase items on Amazon without a Prime Membership, but then you will miss out on the benefits that come with it. Current Amazon Prime Membership fees are $14.99/ month or $139 per year. They also offer student pricing, or discounts to those on EBT, Medicaid and select government assistance programs. There is the option to Subscribe & Save on items too, which if you are buying an item you use on a regular basis, it can be an easy way to save a little more.
A great part of your Amazon Prime membership is the quick and free delivery that is offered. There is free 2 day shipping on eligible items to addresses in the contiguous US and free same-day delivery in eligible zip codes
Amazon Pros & Cons
- They offer quick turnaround time for most items with Amazon Prime, so you aren’t waiting a long time for things to arrive.
- The prices are typically really good and the best you can find.
- They offer a lot of specialty items you can only find at health food stores.
- You can subscribe and save on items too.
- They don’t offer a ton of bulk items.
- Sometimes I’ve had things break easier when delivered through Amazon, compared to say Vitacost. Not as much thought goes into packaging.
My Favorite Amazon Products
- Organic Almond Flour- I usually need this quick and can always order it and have it arrive quickly.
- Organic Nuts- Often I’ll buy nuts here if I need them quickly.
- Alternative Flours- The offer some great prices on alternative gluten free flours.
- Different Nut/Seed Butters- From Tigernut Butter, Granola Butter and more.
- Organic Seaweed- I get my kids the organic seaweed from Amazon because it doesn’t have any of the weird oils.
- Cacao Powder- I love getting the brand Holy Kakow. It’s been tested for heavy metals.
- Cacao Nibs- Love getting the organic cacao nibs from Terrasoul.
- Liquid Stevia- I usually need this quick too and can always count on Amazon.
Force of Nature Meats
I discovered Force of Nature Meats from my sister. They really take it to the next level when it comes to sourcing and using regenerative farming practices. They are not only giving people the best possible meat with pastured and grass fed meats but also doing the best for the environment. I do purchase local beef each year but I love being able to order pastured chicken, bison or pork online from a clean source.
***I do want to point out that Force of Nature Meats isn’t technically organic. BUT, their farming practices are next level and are something I am 100% comfortable feeding my family. Check out their FAQ’s for a full explanation on why they are not certified organic***
Force of Nature Meats Model
Founded on the basis of regenerative farming practices, Force of Nature brings you the best quality meat options out there. There is no membership fee to purchase. Their availability of certain meats can vary just because of the nature of how they allow the animal to live and ultimately harvest. If an item is out of stock there is an option to click “Notify Me When Available” and you will receive an email when it is in stock again. While I haven’t had a chance to compare pricing, you can also visit the Store Locator page on their website to find a store local to you that will have Force of Nature Meat in stock!
Force of Nature Meats Shipping
Orders are shipped out on Monday-Wednesday and are typically received in 1-3 days. Due to the perishable nature of the product, all orders are shipped frozen in an insulated cooler packed with dry ice. Shipping rates are as follows:
- Orders up to $74.99 – The customer pays for the cooler ($20) & shipping.
- Orders from $75 to $188.99 – The customer will receive a cooler at no charge & pay for shipping.
- Orders from $189.00 and up – The consumer receives both the cooler and shipping at no charge.
Check out all of Force of Nature Meats shipping information here.
Force of Nature Meats Pros & Cons
- Getting the best quality meat that is full of nutrients because it is either grass fed or pasture raised.
- You’re helping the environment when purchasing from them because it’s regenerative farming.
- They offer great shipping practices and I’ve never had an order go bad.
- They offer ancestral blends which mixes organ meat into beef or bison. Optimizing the nutrient load.
- They even offer their products at some stores depending on where you live.
- Sometimes they’ve been out of stock on certain meat products when I’ve ordered.
- They only ship Monday-Wednesday.
My Favorite Force of Nature Meats Products
- Pastured Whole Chicken- I love getting the whole chicken because it saves money not buying boneless, but it also adds so much flavor to dishes and you’re getting all the nutrients from the bones.
- Bison & Beef Breakfast Sausage- This blend tastes so good! Whether you’re using it for breakfast or lunch or dinner, it really hits the spot for a tasty meal.
- Ancestral Bison Blend- This ground bison has a blend of heart and liver in it as well. Getting a good dose of organ meat without compromising flavor.
- Ancestral Beef Blend- This is the same as the Ancestral Bison blend. Giving you some heart and liver in your blend of meat.
- Regenerative Ground Pork- This is great for making sausage balls, breakfast casseroles, sausage patties or egg roll in a bowl recipes. We love it for so many things!
More On-line Organic Food Stores To Check Out
Azure Standard- I did try out Azure Standard because I’ve heard about it for years. I wasn’t a huge fan. For one, a lot of the produce that I purchased was bad when I received it. I also emailed them right away to ask for a refund since it was already spoiled but never heard back from them. I also didn’t receive a box of products either. I talked to several friends who use it and the general consensus I’ve learned is that it’s more for people who are buying large bulk items. Like bulk oats, flour, feed for chickens, certain canned products. I’m a little pickier when it comes to flours and oats and they don’t offer sprouted which I prefer when it comes to oats. I also didn’t feel like the prices were better than other stores I shop from. Check out Azure Standard here!
Thrive Market- I had originally done Thrive Market 6 years ago when it just showed up on the health and wellness scene. I wasn’t too impressed with it so I canceled my membership. Then last year I tried it again because I had so many people ask me about it. Again I wasn’t impressed! I don’t like that you have to pay a membership fee every year and I didn’t feel like their prices were much different than Vitacost. They didn’t even carry all of the items I would use. It seemed like they offered more packaged snack items, which I’m not interested in. Check out Thrive Market here!
Blue Mountain Organics- This is great if you like to buy in bulk and order large orders. They have so many great organic and natural products. From sprouted nuts to specialty flours. I could literally browse their site all day! You do have to pay for shipping and there is no way around it unfortunately. Check out Blue Mountain Organics here!
Shiloh Farms- They carry a ton of great sprouted flours, oats, you name it they probably offer it! Most things are organic and really the next level in sourcing. They offer free shipping over $80 which is nice too. Check out Shiloh Farms here!
The Oven Door- I buy from Oven Door, which is on One Degree Oats website. They don’t sell their products directly from their website, but they do offer them through Oven Door. They have other products too, not all up to my standard. You get free shipping on all orders too! Check out The Oven Door here!
Primal Pastures- This is another meat box that I have gotten in the past. Organic, pasture raised and grass fed meat. They offer a little of everything from pork, beef, chicken, lamb and fish. Check out Primal Pastures here!
Grassroots Coop- This is another meat box I have gotten as well. They also offer a great variety of pasture raised and grass fed meats. Check out Grassroots Coop here!
Nuts.com- I buy my 70% organic dark chocolate chips from here. They are free from soy or added emulsifiers and of course organic. I order the 20lb case and we have them forever! Check out Nuts.com here!
Sunrise Flour Mill- I buy organic flour from Sunrise Flour Mill. It’s a heritage flour and not hybridized like wheat is today. It is easier to digest and so much better for you. It’s organic and they test for glyphosates in their wheat. There’s never any bleaching or added chemicals either. How it should be! I get their Heritage Bread Flour and their Heritage White Flour. Check out Sunrise Flour Mill here!
Other Ways to Save on Organic Groceries
There are other ways to save on your organic groceries than shopping through an on-line retailer. But the concept is the same, take out the middleman! Here are just a couple ways to save:
- Find a local farmer to purchase your meat, eggs, milk, etc from. Not only will you be supporting a small business owner and get much better quality food, but you can see exactly where it is coming from.
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a popular way to purchase local and in-season produce at a more reasonable price – again because it is straight from the farmer. You can look up CSA’s local to you here.
- Shop at a local Farmer’s Market
- It’s not always in the budget to purchase everything organic. A great way to avoid as many pesticides as possible (while saving money) is to follow the clean fifteen- these are the top clean produce items you can buy conventionally that aren’t sprayed as much as others. They might have a thicker peel or just don’t require as many pesticides as others to grow. The Dirty Dozen list is the 12 worst produce items that you should try and buy organic if possible since they tend to have the worst pesticide residue on them. Check out the Dirty Dozen here and the Clean 15 here.
Hopefully this post will help you to save while still making healthy choices for you and your family!
What’s your favorite way to save on healthy food?
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