Eating healthy whole, plant-based foods does not have to be expensive.

For example, it’s not necessary to buy organic. It is desirable if you can afford it or if you place a priority on it.

While I’m a retiree on a tight budget, I do place priority on my health, so I choose to eat organic. As I heard someone say, “eat organic and make up for the added cost by eating less of it.”

But the important thing is to eat lots and lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, intact whole grains, nuts and seeds and spices. The health benefits of doing so will far outweigh any potential negative consequences of not buying organic.

No one following a whole food, plant-based lifestyle should feel compelled to eat organic. Not doing so will save money, and sometimes significantly so.

Buying frozen produce can have double benefits because frozen foods, in general, have retained more of their nutrients than fresh food has.

That’s because frozen foods are usually frozen at the source of picking or shortly thereafter, whereas fresh foods can sit in warehouses, on trucks and in stores for long periods of time before being sold.

The other thing about frozen foods is you have no food waste. Buy a head of broccoli and you might have a stem left over that you don’t want. Buy a bag of frozen broccoli and that problem doesn’t exist.

Bags of frozen vegetables are often quite inexpensive – and even more so if large bags are purchased. Instead of a 10-ounce bag, buy a three-pound bag, for example.

When buying fresh vegetables, don’t opt for those already cut up. Buy the whole plant, and cut it yourself. It is easy to do, and it saves money.

If you are too busy to cut up your own veggies, then go back to the previous suggestion, and buy frozen. Frozen veggies come already cut up. That’s just one more advantage they have.

Cook your own beans. It’s not hard, and definitely cheaper, to buy dried beans in bulk and then cook them in water to have on hand or to use in recipes. By doing so, you also avoid the sodium or salt that comes in the canned version of beans.

Those are a few ideas for shopping for whole plant-based foods on a budget. It’s definitely not necessary to break the bank in order to adopt this kind of lifestyle.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole food, plant-based way of eating.