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Organic Produce vs. Conventional – Cost Comparison

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In honor of Meatless Monday I wanted to share with you a comparison of the cost of  organic vs. conventional produce.  Using the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) list of the 2011 “Dirty Dozen” I gathered the cost for each item and listed it for you below.

A couple of notes: 

  • The higher an item is ranked, the larger the number of pesticides are found in it (ex: Apples have the highest pesticide content).
  • Prices listed are the “regular” prices, weekly sales and seasonal items were not taken into account.
  • All items listed are the fresh variety, not canned, pickled or frozen.
  • Every effort was made to compare “apples to apples” in terms of size, weight, packaging, etc.
The Dirty Dozen Cost To Buy Organic Cost To Buy Conventional Cost Difference
1 – Apples      
    Fuji $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Gala $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Red Delicious $2.29/lb $1.99/lb $0.30/lb
2 – Celery $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch
3 – Strawberries $4.99/lb $3.79/lb $1.20/lb
4 – Peaches NA in fall season   NA
5 – Spinach $3.99/ 5oz. ($0.80/oz) $3.69/6oz. ($0.62/oz) $0.18/oz
6 – Nectarines (imported) NA in fall season   NA
7 – Grapes (imported) NA $2.79/lb NA
8 – Sweet Bell Peppers      
    Red Bell Pepper $3.99/each $2.99/each $1/each
    Green Bell Pepper $1.99/each $1.49/each $0.50/each
9 – Potatoes      
    Russet $1.99/lb $1.19/lb $0.80/lb
10 – Blueberries (domestic) NA $4.99/lb NA
11 – Lettuce      
    Romaine $3.99/12oz. ($0.33/oz) $3.79/16oz ($0.24/oz) $0.07/oz
    Spring Mix $3.99/5oz. $3.69/5oz. $0.30/per 5oz. package
    Green Leaf Lettuce $2.79/head $1.99/head $0.80/head
12 – Kale/Collard Greens $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch

 How can you shop smarter?

  • Become familiar with your store’s organic section!  Most people avoid this area all together because they think buying organic is too expensive.  Cruise this section first while shopping to see if anything is on special, or just looks good!  Typically stores will put all of the organic items together in one area, which makes it convenient to see what they have, but it makes comparing prices vs. the same conventional produce more time-consuming.
  • Look for weekly sales.  Even organic produce goes on sale.  For example: Now is the time to stock up on APPLES–I’ve seen organic varieties sold for less than $1.50/lb!
  • Think QUALITY when it comes to QUANTITY.  If there is a particular food that you eat every day, you may want to make sure to invest in the organic version – for me this is carrots!  Even though they aren’t a “Dirty Dozen” vegetable I always buy organic carrots, since I eat them almost every day. 
  • It’s ok to go “half & half”.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t buy everything organic, every time you shop.  When you can fit it into your budget and your menu, do it!  Every little bit will help.

How do you shop for organic produce?  Have any tips to share?  Leave a comment if you do!

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Dinner Dish Under $4

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Sometimes I don’t cook dinner, I merely “assemble” it.  And this recipe (if you can call it that) absolutely showcases why I am NOT a chef! But I am definitely a couponer. 🙂

So in less than 15 minutes I had a tasty dinner put together and for an unbelievable bargain!

Creamy Arrabbiata with Chicken Sausage
1 Package Johnsonville Chicken Sausage ($1.99)
1 Box Barilla Whole Wheat Linguine ($0.67)
1 Jar Wolfgang Puck Arrabbiata Sauce ($0.50)
Heaping Scoop of Philadelphia Cooking Cream – Savory Garlic ($Free$)
 
Serves 4. Total Cost: $3.16
 
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.  While pasta is cooking…
  2.  Heat Arrabbiata sauce in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally. 
  3. Cut each link of sausage into 5 smaller “chunks”.
  4. Place sausage on cookie sheet and heat under broiler for approximately 5-6 minutes. *Using the broiler setting on your oven is a great way to heat/cook food quickly.  Since the sausage is already cooked, you just need to heat it up!
    OR
  5. Place sausage on microwave safe plate and microwave for approximately 1:30.
  6. Add scoop of cooking cream to Arrabbiata sauce and stir.  If you like it creamier, add more cream. 🙂
  7. Add sausage, then add pasta and SERVE!  Buon Appetito!

Using Johnsonville Chicken Sausage helped make dinner come together in no time at all!  The white bits in the photo above are cheese – I used the “3 Cheese Italian Style” variety. 

The sausage is regularly $4.99 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off , which was doubled, for a $3 discount, made it only $1.99!

 

The Philadelphia Cooking Creme has a consistency similar to greek yogurt and comes in a variety of flavors.  The “Savory Garlic” flavor complimented the Arrabbiata sauce well to create a rich, fiery flavored pasta sauce. 

Yes, I did in fact get the Philadelphia Cooking Creme for $Free$!  How?  My local HT had it on sale for $1.57 and I had a coupon for $1 off, and the coupon doubled!

I liked the creme, it made for a nice touch with the sauce and I can already think of other uses for it and look forward to experimenting.  Anyone else use it for something tasty?

Wolfgang Puck’s Arrabbiata was spicy and flavorful – as any Arrabbiata sauce should be!  Arrabbiata is Italian for “angry”, not because you’ll be angry you’re eating it, but more named for the feisty flavor it brings to any dish.

And yes, I got this jar for only $0.50.  How?  HT had the sauce on sale for $2 each.  I had a “$1 off of 2” coupon (that was doubled) as well as an HT eCoupon for $1 off.  So 2 jars would have been $4 total, but I received $3 off.  Therefore… 2 jars = $1 total!

As far as putting together an easy dinner on a tight budget, this is probably one of the most economical dishes I’ve ever made, and best of all it was spicy.  What can I say…I like it HOT! 😉