Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

No matter if you are on a Keto diet, Vegetarian diet, IIFYM plan or no specific diet at all the most important thing is eliminating preservatives, hormones, pesticides or whatever other weird organisms are used in foods these days.  

You know how when you read the nutrition label, and you can't pronounce half the ingredients listed? Yea that's because it's not real food. 

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

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What's worse is the "healthy aisles"  like fresh produce and meats are often times just as bad as all the processed packaged foods. You know that saying "You are what you eat"? Well it's true. If you eat ground beef from a cow that was given antibiotics or hormones, you are in fact consuming those antibiotics and hormones as well. 

Shopping organic is just one step closer to eliminating as much yucky stuff from your diet as possible, but I get it, you want to know is buying organic worth it so this complete guide to buying organic will provide you a:

  • better understanding of what qualifies something as Organic 

  • list of 9 foods to buy organic and why

  • list of 13 foods you don't need to buy organic 

  • 5 ways to shop organic on a budget

What Exactly Does "Organic" Mean?

According to the USDA:

Organic produce must be grown without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms.

In the annals of Internal Medicine, a meta-analysis was published comparing organic and conventional foods, which revealed that conventional (not organic) produce was exposed to five times the amount of pesticides and had significantly higher levels of toxic metals compared to organic foods. 

Organic meat must come from animals that were raised in a natural environment, was never given any antibiotics or hormones, and was fed 100% organic feed.

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

Good thing I always encourage you to eat as few packaged foods as possible, because that's where the whole "organic" line gets kinda thin and a little sketchy.

More important than just weight loss is your health and being exposed to pesticides has been linked to many different health conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and of course cancer.

I know, I know everything "causes cancer these days", but when it comes to the studies I've looked into regarding pesticides in food I feel confident that they truly do have a much more significant effect on our health than we'd like to believe and to eliminate them from our diets as much as possible will play a huge role in how you feel and your overall health.

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG), puts out a Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce that lists fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues.

Of course, I encourage you to fill your grocery cart with more foods from the produce section than pre-packaged foods, but I also understand that buying organic foods can get a little pricey.  

Hopefully, now that you will have a list of foods you don't need to buy organic and a list of foods you should buy organic you can save money by only splurging on the necessities. 

list of foods you don't have to buy organic 

First off let's just point out the foods EWG’s Shopper’s Guide says you don't need to worry as much about buying organic

  • Avocados

  • Cabbage

  • Onions

  • Cauliflower

  • Asparagus

  • Pineapples

  • Sweet peas

  • Mangoes

  • Kiwi

  • Eggplant

  • Grapefruit

  • Cantaloupe

  • sweet potatoes

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

list of foods to buy organic

  • Meat

Like I mentioned earlier animals are usually given hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, and we are exposed to all of that when we eat the meat from those animals. The feed that cows, chickens, turkeys, and other animals are fed is grown using synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, which is how those animals are exposed to pesticides.

Not to mention the hormones, antibiotics and other additives these animals are injected with or exposed to, make organic meat worth the extra money.

  • Eggs

According to the USDA when buying Organic eggs, you know the hens’ feed did not contain animal by products, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge (gross), most pesticides, and other unsavory ingredients. 

  • Leafy Greens: Lettuce, Green Collards, Kale and Spinach

You can't really peel spinach or lettuce lol, and it's difficult to rinse off the surface well enough to fully eliminate the pesticides that stick to Leafy greens, so it's really worth the investment to buy organic leafy greens.

  • Dairy

Again, with dairy products it comes down to what the animals were exposed to such as antibiotics and growth hormones, so even if you are on a budget defiantly go for organic. I always look for "grass-fed," which means the cow grazed on grass, grain-free diet!

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget
  • Tomatoes

EWG Not so fun fact: The average conventionally grown tomato tested positive for nearly four types of pesticides. One sample even contained 15 various pesticides and breakdown products.

  • Celery

EWG Not so fun fact: Pesticides were found to be in more than 95 percent of conventional celery samples. Thirteen different pesticides were detected on one celery sample.

  • Bell peppers and Hot peppers

like celery and tomatoes the EWG found high counts of pesticide residue on peppers.

  • Fruits

Blueberries, Strawberries, Nectarine, Apples, grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, 

  • Potatoes

5 ways to shop organic on a budget

1. Your Family Favorites

Eating foods with higher counts of pesticide residue once in a while isn’t the end of the world, but the main concern is the repetitive consumption of those foods on a regular basis. If you’re on a budget, but would like to start shopping organic, start with the foods your family eats on a daily basis.

2. Buy in season (and local, if possible). 

Buying organic produce that's in season will be less expensive for sure. Check out this seasonal produce guide from the USDA 

3. Buying generic and in bulk will be big money savers too. 

Many supermarkets, like Safeway, Target, and Wal-Mart carry organic store-brand options that are less expensive than the same product with name brand packaging.

Also check out Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s for organic options in bulk. I bought a huge thing of organic blueberries from Sams club and kept them in the freezer, they lasted me a few months.  

Complete List of Foods You Do and Don't Need to Buy Organic on a Budget

4. Shop locally at Trader Joes or online at Thrive Market

Trader Joes is my go to and totally worth a small commute to get there! Their organic prices easily beat out most supermarkets. I use to assume organic meat was way too expensive because I went to Whole Foods to scoop it out and a pack of chicken was close to $20.

At Trader Joes their prices on organic chicken breasts, thighs and grass-fed organic beef is very reasonable and is even less expensive than the organic options at my local Harris Teeter or Giant Grocery Stores.

You can also save by ordering online from Thrive Market they always have great deals and organic options as well.

5. Keep an eye out for sales and coupons.

Sites like All Natural Savings. I'm not a huge coupon-er, but a lot of people are, so I checked out this site another blogger had mentioned, and after scrolling the site I saw three coupons for organic brands that I use, so it's defiantly worth checking out! 

So is Buying Organic Worth it?

ABSOLUTELY, but not everything has to be organic to drastically cut back on your exposure to pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics.

A good rule of thumb when deciding if you should buy organic or not is to stick to produce, fruits, dairy, and meat that are organic, especially things that you and your family eat the most of throughout the week.

When it comes to packaged foods if there is an organic option that is only a $1 or so more you might as well go for it, but don't break the bank or not buy something just because the label doesn't say 100% organic. 

I hope that this organic guide was super helpful for you! Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips or questions about shopping organic!