Organic food is generally more expensive than conventional because of differences in production and handling, according to the Department of Agriculture. Still, it's possible to buy organic more cheaply. Try these tips:

1. Buy Organic When It Matters
Choosing organic reduces your exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and protects farmers as well as the environment. Some fruits and vegetables are known to have higher pesticide residue that others. Consumer Reports recommends choosing organic for fruits and vegetables that fall into that category. These include carrots, cranberries, green beans, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, tangerines, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. An advantage to buying organic meat and poultry is that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

2. Compare Prices
It’s possible to find organic products for the same price as conventional ones—and occasionally for less. For example, at Costco, 2-pound containers of conventional Sabra Hummus and organic Hannah Hommus are each $5.99. In the coffee aisle, you can get 2 pounds of Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend—not organic—for $14.69. But 2½ pounds of Highland Reserve Organic Peru Coffee costs $10.99.

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3. Seek Out Store Brands
According to the market research firm Nielsen, a market basket of selected organic store-label products costs 18 percent less than the comparable brand-name versions. For example, at Whole Foods recently, Santa Cruz Organic Applesauce cost $5.39 for 23 ounces, and Whole Foods’ store brand, 365 Organic Applesauce, was $2.79 for 24 ounces, or 50 percent less.

4. Look in the Freezer Case
Frozen organic vegetables may actually be cheaper than fresh, and the nutritional quality is similar. For example, at a local store a 10-ounce package of Nature’s Promise Organic fresh green beans was $3.99 and a 16-ounce package of the same brand’s organic frozen green beans was $1.99.

5. Check the Weight
When organic produce is sold prepackaged at a set price rather than by the pound, it’s worth taking the time to weigh a few packages. We’ve found that the amount in the package may exceed the weight listed.

6. Buy in Bulk
As long as you’ll actually use all of the food, buying a larger package size or quantity can save you money. For example, 1 pound of organic ground turkey at Whole Foods cost $7.99, but a 3-pound package cost $14.99 at Costco. That comes out to $5 per pound. 

7. Sign Up for Coupons
Many organic brands—such as Amy’s Kitchen, Ancient Harvest, Horizon, Organic Valley, Simply Organic, and Stonyfield Farm Organic—provide coupons on their website or if you sign up for their newsletters. Check the website of brands you’re interested in to see whether they do the same.

(Note: Prices are based on items purchased at grocery stores near our Yonkers, N.Y., offices.)

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.