Organic pantry items are some of the best organic deals. Why? Because it's easier for businesses to ship and sell packaged pantry items, there's more competition which only means one thing, price wars!
For all the algebra nerds reading this, fresh organic produce (a) plus meat (b) does not equal x. We still to solve for c (a+b+c=x).
My family eats approximately 90% organic food. The only reason this is possible is that we find amazing deals and don't pay retail price for most items. In addition to browsing the clearance section at our local grocery stores that we visit maybe once a month, we find most of our pantry item deals online.
Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional. My wife and I believe organically grown food is more nutritious than anything else you can buy at the grocery store. We consider our health to be our most important asset and healthy behaviors are one way we can ensure we can live to be 80 and spritely.
What Exactly Are Organic Pantry Items?
In case you missed my first two articles on organic produce and organic meat, organic pantry items are essentially your non-perishable items that don't have to be refrigerated or frozen. Here are a few items we buy organic:
- Grains (Rice, Quinoa, Oats, Beans, etc.)
- Noodles (Our two-year-old loves Annie's Mac and Cheese)
- Coffee and Tea
- Canned Tomatoes (to make spaghetti sauce)
- Dried Nuts
- Dried Fruit
- Protein powders for smoothies
- Vinegar and Cooking Oils
The options are almost endless. My wife even buys our laundry soap, dishwashing soap, and other products through Vitacost as well (usually the Seventh Generation brand).
For the rest of this article, I will break down where we buy our items online so you can too.
Vitacost is where it's at! For my family at least as you can save up to 50% off retail price. One reason Vitacost is able to deliver lower prices (in our opinion) is that they are owned by the Kroger Co., the parent company of the Kroger, Fry's, and King Soopers grocery store brands.
With over 40,000 products to choose from, you shouldn't have an issue finding what you want. They carry the leading organic brands and also the Simple Truth private label sold at Kroger.
To get free shipping, you will need to spend $49 at once. Since we order most of our groceries online (primarily from Vitacost), this isn't an issue for us. Join their mailing list as well, it has helped us figure out their sales patterns so we know when to buy certain items like certain food categories or supplements. All orders are 2-shipping from the Postal Service or FedEx.
Whatever we don't buy from Vitacost, we try to buy from Azure Standard. This monthly delivery service meets at a public place and you literally get your items from the truck and put them into your car. If you like to buy in bulk, Azure is worth checking out.
For example, we buy bulk cheese and use our FoodSaver to vacuum seal what we won't eat immediately. By buying a 5-pound block of cheese, you can easily save $1 per pound by buying the store brand of conventional cheese at Walmart which also won't be as creamy or rich in taste (I love cheese if you couldn't tell).
Another reason we try to support Azure is that they are a family business. They don't always have the largest product inventory, but, their prices are usually reasonable and we try to avoid supporting large chains as much as possible. Thankfully, we live in a free market and your opinions might differ on this topic, but, we like fostering competition as much as possible with multiple businesses because consumers can benefit more.
Another e-commerce site we sometimes shop at is Jet. They sell most of the leading national organic brands and free 2-day shipping starts at $35. Usually, you pay what you see on Jet as they are owned by Walmart, the master of “every day low prices” and the best deals are usually saved for first-time customers. Occasionally, they do have specials on select brands and categories to get 20% off food or Seventh Generation products.
One thing I do enjoy about Jet is that prices of items in your cart will drop each time you add something else to your cart. If you opt-out of free returns or pay with a debit card, you can shave a few extra pennies off the cost of each item as well. It helps us offset the sales tax we pay.
Read my Jet.com review to learn more.
Another site we used in the past is Thrive Market (you can get 20% off your first three orders using this link). In our opinion, it's a great option if you want small, individually packaged items. We usually prefer getting the next size up in something as the price can be lower and we have the extra shelf space in our pantry.
But, we know other people in our family that only want small quantities of food at one time and Thrive can be a great option. You get perfect-sized packages at reasonable prices.
Thrive Market does require an annual membership of $59.95 after a 30-day free trial (just like Costco).
Your Local Grocery Store
A final option is to look for organic food at your local grocery store. Our favorite place to visit is Kroger where we browse the closeout specials.
Other friends of ours enjoy Aldi and Costco. Personally, we haven't bought into the whole Aldi healthy-eating craze, as our local store (20-minute drive) usually only offers a handful of organic produce items like carrots, apples, and bananas. Most of their pantry items, including the “Gluten Free” and “All-Natural” selections are still conventional. Our time is more valuable to us, so we skip Aldi and order from our other places because we order in bulk.
Costco can be a good option as well if you have one nearby. Between the one hour drive and having to get two small children out of car seats, it's not worth it for us at the moment when we can buy many similar items online for the same price or lower.
I do keep hearing that once we have more than two children, our opinion will change about Costco, so I'm not closing the book on them yet.
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When it comes to buying organic pantry items, you can either buy individual items or in bulk. We prefer to buy in bulk because you can save so much money per pound and we make sure we consume what we buy before it goes rancid or stale. But, we also save money on individual items by shopping at Vitacost and Jet.
I hope this article has helped you discover how you can pay less for organic food. Saving money each time we buy groceries is one way we are able to pursue our path to becoming debt-free.
Did you miss the other articles in the Eating Organic series? Find them below:
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.