Frugal Organics

Do you want to go “organic” but you’re fearful of the cost? Getting organics on a budget, often means that you will have to shop around and be willing to go to more than one place. Mix and match the options below so that you get the best deals for the organic products and produce that you use:

  • Farmer’s Markets: Farmer’s markets are a great option for getting a variety of fresh produce items and supporting local farmers. The markets in the Twin Cities are generally open from late April to November. Farmer’s markets are open a variety of days of the week, featuring fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and flowers. Be sure to ask the farmers lots of questions to ensure that the produce their selling is organic from their farm (not just resale) also ask them what tastes the best, they will know.
  • CSA: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to enjoy fresh produce, support local farmers, and lower your grocery bill during the late spring, summer and early fall. There are a wide variety of CSA options in the Twin Cities area that feature a selection of produce including vegetables, fruit, eggs, herbs, jellies, and even flowers. The cost is generally $500-650 ($24-32/week, feeds about 4) for a full share and $250-400 ($12-20/week feeds about 2 people) for a half share. You will receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Some farms even offer the option that you can work for a number of hours on the farm for a discount on your share.
  • Co-op: Co-ops are more than grocery stores, they are a great way to get fresh, organic groceries year round from local farmers. Co-ops are fairly inexpensive to join and they often provide good member discounts. The Twin Cities has many co-ops, some even offer discounts to members who volunteer for just a few hours a month.
  • Sales: Keep your eyes peeled for sales so that you can stock up on products. Clip coupons and shop the house organic brands.
  • Buying Club: Buying clubs allow you to buy organic products in bulk year round for up to 30-40% off retail price. Ask your local co-op about starting a buying club with your neighbors, or contact the distributor directly.
  • Buy in Bulk: Buy in-season in produce in bulk when it is fresh and the prices are low. Then preserve it by freezing or canning for use during the winter months. Buy dry goods like rice and beans in bulk, but be sure to do the math to make sure the deal is worth it.
  • Use Preserved Organic Food in the Winter: In the winter, use preserved organic foods (canned, frozen, or dried) that you have preserved yourself or have an “organic” label on it. This will be better for you and generally taste better than the fresh produce available during the winter months.
  • Growing Your Own Garden: Got a green thumb? Here are some tips for starting your own vegetable garden. It is best to start small. If you don’t have much gardening experience, you might start by growing your own herbs. You can even grow your own herbs indoors, so don’t let lack of space stop you!

It can be difficult for someone to go from straight from shopping at a conventional grocery store to shopping around for organics. While there are certainly ways to do organics on a budget, it is almost inevitable that you might see a small increase in your grocery bill. You can start making the gradual shift to organic by just picking one of the suggestions above to follow or by picking one item (dairy, meat, produce) to begin buying organic. For more information, check out these articles from bankrate or MoneyNing.

Join the Conversation: How do you buy organic foods and products on a budget?

Spring Frugal Activities

Spring is coming! In the twin cities, the snow is beginning to melt. It is warming up and the world is becoming greener. While there may be one last snow fall or two, spring is on its way. As you think about warmer, greener days. Here are some fun and frugal ways to celebrate the coming of spring:

  • Fresh Groceries: Enjoy some fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers this spring by visiting one of the many twin cities farmer’s markets, most of these markets open in April or May. This is also a great time to join a local CSA by buying a share (or half share) that will give you fresh produce and meats (depending on the farm) from early summer through the fall.;
  • Visit the Animals: Visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, especially the Spring Flower Show beginning March 23rd.  Then visit theFarm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo from March 29-April 30.
  • Go Maple Syruping: The end of March is the time for tapping the maple trees and making maple syrup. Learn about the process of making syrup, sample some local syrup and even try your hand at tapping the trees at these local events located in state parks around the area.
  • Easter Eggs: This is the season for Easter eggs. Try making your own with these DIY organic dye recipes. Also, check out the many Easter egg hunts for families around the Twin Cities.
  • Earth Day Events: Earth day is April 22nd, check out the many events taking place around the cities to celebrate our great, green Earth. 
  • St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patty’s Day is this Sunday. This weekend will be chock full of parades, events, dancing, and other lively St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Check out this site for information about events going on in your area.
  • Film Festivals: Minneapolis and St. Paul hosts an International Film Festival April 14-May 5 featuring 170 films from over 50 countries.
  • Yard Sale/Garage Sale: It’s the season for cleaning and de-cluttering your home/apartment. Join in the fun by hosting your own yard/garage sale with a few friends. Or, check out the many sales around town to find good deals on many household items.
  • Garden: Got a green thumb? Why not try your hand at gardening this Spring? Here are some tips for starting your own vegetable garden. If you don’t have much gardening experience, you might start by growing your own herbs. You can even grow your own herbs indoors, so don’t let lack of space stop you! 
  • Visit a Local Park or Lake: Take a walk around one of the many local lakes, go for a hike in a park, go camping or bike on the trails. If you are interested in biking but don’t own a bike, take a look at Nice Ride Minnesota’s bike share program.

Join the Conversation: What is your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities in the Spring?

P.S.- Don’t forget to keep submitting your frugal recipes to me at dduddy002@luthersem.edu or by posting them as a comment on the Frugal Recipes blog article. Last week I only received two comments, I would love some more!

Spring Green: Fresh and Frugal Produce

Want fresh produce that doesn’t hurt your wallet? Check out some of these options this spring and summer!

  • Farmer’s Market: Farmer’s Markets are a great option for getting a variety of fresh produce items and supporting local farmers that is easy on your wallet. There are many markets throughout the Twin Cities area. The Downtown St. Paul Farmer’s Market begins April 28th. This market hosts a variety of farmers on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the farming season, featuring fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, flowers, as well as local bands and fun crafts to entertain the whole family as you shop!
  • CSA: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to enjoy fresh produce, support local farmers, and lower your grocery bill during the late spring, summer and early fall. Buy a share and you will receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. There are a wide variety of CSA options in the Twin Cities area that offer a wide variety of produce including vegetables, fruit, eggs, herbs, jellies, and even flowers. One share can feed 3+ people for one week, so consider going in on one share with a few friends.
  • Co-op: Co-ops are more than grocery stores, they are a great way to get fresh, organic groceries year round from local farmers. Co-ops are fairly inexpensive to join and they often provide good member discounts. The Twin Cities has many co-ops,  the Hampden Park Co-op, close to Luther Seminary in St. Paul, offers discounts to members who volunteer for just a few hours a month.
  • Community Garden: Community Gardens are a great way to gather people together, beautify your neighborhood and enjoy fresh flowers and produce. The Twin Cities area is chock-full of community gardens . See if there is one in your neighborhood, if not why not get a few neighbors together and start one of your own?
  • Growing Your Own Garden: Got a green thumb? Here are some tips for starting your own vegetable garden. It is best to start small. If you don’t have much gardening experience, you might start by growing your own herbs. You can even grow your own herbs indoors, so don’t let lack of space stop you!

Join the Conversation: Have you ever grown your own garden? What are some tips that you have for successfully growing herbs and produce in the city?

Spring Forward in the Twin Cities

Spring is hear at last! It is warming up and the world is becoming greener. Here are some fun and frugal ways to celebrate the coming of spring:

  • Fresh Groceries: Enjoy some fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers this spring by visiting farmer’s markets or joining a local CSA.
  • Visit the Animals: Visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, especially the Spring Flower Show beginning March 24th.  Then visit the Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo during the month of April.
  • Go Maple Syruping: The end of March is the time for tapping the maple trees and making maple syrup. Learn about the process of making syrup, sample some local syrup and even try your hand at tapping the trees at these local events.
  • Easter Eggs: This is the season for Easter eggs. Try making your own with these DIY organic dye recipes. Also, check out the many Easter egg huntsfor families around the Twin Cities.
  • Earth Day Events: Earth day is April 22nd, check out the many events take place around the cities to celebrate our great, green Earth. 
  • Yard Sale/Garage Sale: It’s the season for cleaning and de-cluttering your home/apartment. Join in the fun by hosting your own yard/garage sale with a few friends. Or, check out the many sales around town to find good deals on many household items!
  • Garden: Got a green thumb? Why not try your hand at gardening this Spring? Here are some great tips on creating a Rain Garden in the Twin Cities. 
  • Visit a Local Park or Lake: Take a walk around one of the many local lakes, go for a hike in a park, go camping or bike on the trails. If you are interested in biking but don’t own a bike, take a look at Nice Ride Minnesota’s bike share program.

Join the Conversation: What is your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities in the Spring?