Using a Garden to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Gardening is definitely making a comeback.  Different sources speculate exactly why that is.

  • Mostly the recession.  Bad economic times are pricking that “survival” instinct and people are appreciating those little garden seeds once again.  It’s not hard to calculate the finances on a few seeds and what they can produce and that’s why more people are using a garden to cut the grocery bill!
  • Or it could be food safety, recalls and distrust of the large mega food system that has been in the news countless times over the past few years.  No one likes the fact that the spinach or peanut butter or (insert the latest recall) we buy in the grocery store may or may not be recalled the week after we buy it and consume it!
  • It may also be the resurgence of farmers markets and buying local food and the plain fact that people are getting tired of tasteless food!  You don’t have to have super keen taste buds to taste the difference in a garden fresh tomato and a tomato that was picked green, ripened artificially with gas and traveled over 1,500 miles to get to your plate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of paying $1.50 for a red plastic, tasteless pepper or $2.99 a pound for smooshy, tasteless tomatoes.  How about $2.99 for a head of green leaf lettuce!

I’ll be using a garden to cut my grocery bill this year and not only will I save a ton of money, but my family will reap the wonderful rewards of tasty, healthy, home grown foods without the grocery store price tag and without my food making the 1,500 miles of cross country travel.

You don’t have to order fancy seeds from major seed companies.  My most successful lettuces last year came from a .99 cent seed package a friend gave me.  Without any particularly scientific method, I prepared a square patch of soil in the corner of my garden spot and sprinkled the entire packed over the dirt.  I lightly patted the soil and sprinkled a bit of soil and water over top.  A wonderful variety of tightly packed lettuces grew and grew and grew! I way out did the $2.99 price for one head of lettuce!

I found an article of interest on the topic entitled, How Much Green Can Growing a Vegetable Garden Save You

George Ball, chairman and CEO of seed giant Burpee, can rattle off the savings for dozens of homegrown crops. Green beans will generate $75 worth of crops for each $1 you spend on seeds, Mr. Ball calculates.

Green beans certainly paid off for us last year.  I planted several rows of green beans which ended up yielding me all the fresh green beans I could use throughout the summer and into the fall.  My daughter and I learned how to pressure can green beans last year, so our start up costs were a bit more expensive:  buying a pressure canner and buying canning jars!  However, even with that extra cost, we were able to put away over 50 quarts of green beans.  Plus, we traded farm fresh eggs for more green beans that we ended up canning.

Our tomatoes paid off big time as well.  I still have frozen tomatoes in my freezer waiting to be used.  We ate all the fresh tomatoes we could….and ohh boy, were they out of this world delicious!  I immensely enjoyed planting some rare heirloom varieties that gave us yellow tomatoes and beautiful yellow and red striped tomatoes!  We had enough tomatoes that I ended up feeding lots of them to the chickens and pigs as well.  Nothing went to waste and my few dollars spent on tomato seeds and plants was greatly multiplied a hundred times over!

This year, we plan to plant more and since we already have our canning supplies and saved lots of  seeds from last years plantings, our costs this year are hardly pennies!

Housewives in past generations were much more proficient at estimating the amount of food they needed to stock their pantry with.  Even though we canned lots of applesauce, fresh peaches, fresh pears, pear sauce, apple butter and peach jelly, now in February, our pantry stores in those items have be used up!  It was wonderful while it lasted!  This winter taught me some very valuable lessons about pantry stocking.  When you have a family of 10, your winter pantry supply has to be huge!  I’m anxiously waiting for spring and the food harvest seasons to kick into full swing!

No matter where you live, you can grow something!  Gardening is wise investment of time and energy and can drastically cut your grocery bill and fill your pantry cupboards and freezer with all sorts of high quality, priceless food items that your family can enjoy through out the year!

5 comments on “Using a Garden to Cut Your Grocery Bill

  1. Beth, are you thinking about posting about how much you need to plant in order to get the amount you need to can/freeze for the year? I know we all have different sized families, but I would be curious since I have a family of 7 to know how many green bean plants you thought were in each row? And so on and so forth. For instance, I blanched/cut off the cob/froze 15 dozen ears of corn and they lasted me less than 3 months. So I figure 50-60 dozen at least for this year. I'm new to canning and freezing so it's so hard to know!? Also, I was just online and noted that you can get pressure canners that will do 14 qt. jars at once (or more!). Do you have one that does 7 qt. jars or did you go for a bigger one? Thanks!

  2. Absolutely Holly! I very excited about the gardening and canning posts. The problem with my green beans last year is that I didn't count how many seeds or plants we had. We planted them in a different style than we normally do as an experiment. The experiment went great and I hope to actually show pictures this year of how we did it. (and I hope to count the plants and calculate how many bushels we are getting off them!)

    We used the Ruth Stout mulching method of gardening and loved it for a lot of reasons. I'll devote a whole post to that and have that up soon. She never actually planted seeds…she sorta just sprinkled the seeds on the ground.

    We had a green bean patch actually. I actually had to pull a few plants up so we could get to some of the other ones.

    But yes… i want to cover how much to plant based on estimating what each plant can produce…and then out of that, how many canning jars you can get out of how much produce.

    I was getting about 15 jars out of one bushel of green beans ( which is around 30 lbs). No, I don't have the big canner. I have the one that is a 7 qt. one…but the great thing is that I live in an area where all my friends have the same canner…so when one of us is going to can, we borrow one another's canner and get two of them going at the same time. It goes a lot faster that way!

    Check back at this post…I'm going to add a link to a blog post i wrote on Vaughnshire about the green beans last year…it has a picture in it of what it looked like.

  3. My problem is the goodies that I freeze or can I tend not to want to use…to sort of savor them. We have a ton of pears in the freezer from fall that I haven't used yet. I'll need to get to it, huh??
    I received my package of seeds in the mail yesterday. I can't wait to get some yummy produce from the garden!

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