By Nina Rizzo, health writer
Think you can’t afford an organic diet? Think again. Eating cleaner and greener foods on a budget is all about making smart choices, and everyone can do it.
Organic foods are sometimes more expensive to produce because they are grown without pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be found in the organics aisle.
Plan your weekly meals around groceries that are on sale and concentrate on those for which you have coupons before heading to the supermarket. Many organic food manufacturers offer coupons on their websites or social media pages. You also can join their electronic mailing lists so the deals come straight to your inbox. Consider store brand over name brand items. A 2015 Consumer Reports study found that, on average, store brands were 25 percent cheaper than name brands. Sometimes name brand manufacturers make private label goods, too, so there’s often no difference in quality. ShopRite lists dozens of store brand organic products, along with digital coupons, on its website. Aside from a huge assortment of organic dairy products, whole grains, cereals, juices and frozen veggies, ShopRite has an ever-growing selection of organic produce. Think berries, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, leafy greens and fresh herbs. Organic salad dressings, marinades and croutons are also available right in the produce aisle.
Cook More, Eat Out Less
Stretch your budget by making your own soups and stews with organic meats and veggies. Experiment with creating your own grab-and-go snacks, using organic granola bars and cookies, organic oats, flour and dried fruits. Freeze leftovers in small portions to ensure little or no waste. Roast a whole organic chicken (it’s less expensive than the parts) and use the remainder for chicken salad sandwiches the next day. The carcass can be used for soup stock and get you started on another organic meal. For big families, creamy roasted vegetable lasagna made with organic dairy products is a delicious alternative to the traditional red sauce-and-meat casserole.
Depending on the time of year, frozen fruits and vegetables are usually more economical then fresh. But now that spring is here, look for locally grown produce. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to buy organic and still save money.
Talk to your local ShopRite dietitian to learn more ways to prepare budget friendly organic meals or visit
ShopRite.com for more info.
Here’s a great meal that can be made with organic or conventional ingredients that your family is sure to love.
Creamy Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
- 3 bell peppers, any color, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 – ½ teaspoons salt, or more to taste, divided
- 2-3 fresh tomatoes diced OR a 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 3 tablespoons Horizon Organic unsalted butter
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups reduced fat Horizon Organic Milk plus DHA
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups fresh ricotta
- 4 egg whites
- 2 cups Horizon Organic shredded mozzarella
- 1 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
- 1 box no-bake lasagna noodles
- 2 tablespoons water
- Fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss peppers, sliced onions, zucchini and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a few pinches salt. Divide vegetables between 2 baking sheets and bake 20 minutes, or until they begin to color. Allow vegetables to cool, add tomatoes and set aside.
- To make sauce, melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium low heat. Add minced onion and cook 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes (mixture will be very lumpy). Whisk in 1/2 cup milk and stir to dissolve the lumps of flour. Whisk in the remaining 2-1/2 cups of milk. Raise heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and looks like cream. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper and nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
- To prepare ricotta mixture, combine fresh ricotta, egg white, 1/4 cup Parmesan, Italian herb seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- To make lasagna, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9” x 13” lasagna pan, spread 1 cup of sauce over bottom of pan, then drizzle 2 tablespoons of water over the sauce. Add a layer of no-bake noodles (you may have to break pieces to fill in the spaces). Spread half of veggie mixture over noodles and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, spread on ricotta and drizzle on 1/2 cup of sauce. Add the last layer of noodles, top with remaining vegetables, sauce, the remaining mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pan with lightly oiled foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 15 more minutes or until the top is bubbly and brown. Let lasagna cool 10 minutes before serving.