Does Growing Your Own Food Save Money?

Does Growing Your Own Food Save Money
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Starting your own garden brings many benefits, not the least of which is the potential to save money. But does growing your own food save money? We’ll answer this question in this blog post!

Planting and nurturing seeds can lead to rows of Swiss chard, towers of tomatoes, and stalks teeming with sweet corn, all of which could lower your grocery bill.

Plus, the taste of fresh produce from your own garden is better than what you can buy in a store, not to mention the benefit of fresh air and exercise that you’ll get from spending time in your garden.

The Rising Cost of Store-Bought Produce

As you navigate the aisles of your local supermarket, you’ll notice the climbing price tags on fruits and vegetables. This increase in fresh produce prices has made it virtually impossible for middle- and lower-income families to add enough fresh and nutritious produce to their diets.

Comparing Home Grown and Store Bought Prices

The gap between the cost of homegrown and store-bought vegetables is widening, with supermarket prices for fresh produce reaching new heights. Food prices increased by a staggering 25% from 2019 to 2023, so growing your own food is definitely worth it now more than ever!

Maximizing Savings with Specific Vegetables

Growing your own vegetables can significantly reduce your grocery bill, especially if you focu on certain cost-effective varieties.

By choosing the right plants and managing your garden space wisely, you can enjoy fresh produce that’s often cheaper than buying groceries.

In the sections below, I’ll give you the CHEAT CODES to exactly which types of food will give you the biggest savings when you grow them yourself!

Lettuce: Huge Potential for Savings

Lettuce is a great choice for your vegetable garden with huge potential for savings. You can often harvest lettuce early in the growing season, and it doesn’t require much space. Lettuce is one of those veggies that we eat in so many dishes, from burgers to sandwiches to salads, and having home-grown lettuce at your fingertips is a true money-saving hack.

One pack of romaine lettuce seeds costs $3, and if you harvest full-grown heads, that single package will grow hundreds of heads of lettuce and several pounds of leaf lettuce if you harvest cut-and-come-again style.

For the cost of one bag of lettuce mix you can grow and eat over 75 heads of lettuce

Onions: Cheaper and Tastier When They Are Home-Grown

Onions are a staple in many dishes and are cost-effective to grow. Home-grown onions are cheaper and tend to be tastier than those you can buy in a store.

Planting them in your garden also means you have a fresh supply of onions whenever you need them.

A home-grown sweet onion costs anywhere from .05-.15 to grow, while an onion of similar size and lesser taste will cost you 10X that much to buy at the grocery store.

I grow sweet onions from seed, and 75 onions cost $3. 

For the cost of a 3-pound bag of onions, I can grow a year’s worth of onions, and the ones I grow taste better and last longer.

I know this sounds too good to be true, but I promise you it’s not.

 Tomatoes: Reducing Grocery Bills in a Real Way

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow yourself due to their cost savings and superior flavor of homegrown.

Another advantage to growing heirloom tomatoes is that it is easy to save seeds from them. Once you save seeds, you can grow them free the next year. Saving tomato seeds is very easy and they last several years.

According to MSU Extension, tomatoes are one of the vegetables that provide the biggest returns on your garden investment.

Here’s a great example of how much $$ you can save growing your own tomatoes:

For the cost of a single pint of cherry tomatoes ($5), you can grow:

  • 5 fully-grown, 6-foot tall Sungold cherry tomato plants from seed and have up to 50 pounds of cherry tomatoes.

  • Or, if you don’t want to grow from seed and you’d rather buy a transplant, you can get 1-2 transplants for that 5 dollars. Those 2 plants will yield 20 pounds of cherry tomatoes EASILY.

Cucumbers: Home Garden Darlings

Cucumbers absolutely thrive in a home garden setting and can produce a bountiful crop with minimal initial costs.

Whether you use your cucumbers as veggie snacks with dip, cut up in salads, or pickled, you’ll find ways to add cucumbers all over the menu when you have an endless supply of them.

Saving money is easy since cucumbers can be prolific producers throughout the growing season.

You can buy a package of 5 Picolino cucumber seeds for $3.75 from Pinetree Seeds, toss 2 of those into the soil, and you’ll be harvesting 3-4 pounds of cucumbers per week for months. Yes, .75 cents per seed IS steep, but each plant can grow between 10-20 pounds. Two months after you grow the first two, grow the last 3 seeds so that you have a continuous supply!

Does Growing Your Own Food Save Money
Best Small Snacking Cucumbers
Picolino Cucumbers- High Mowing Seeds Picolino Cucumbers- High Mowing Seeds
  • These plants will yield 10-20 pounds PER PLANT
  • Yes, 5 seeds for $4 is on the higher side in terms of price, BUT those 5 seeds will give you 50+ pounds of cucumbers for fresh eating!
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Peppers: A Spicy Saving

Peppers, whether sweet or spicy, are a high-yield vegetable that add up to big cost savings over time.

Peppers can be quite productive and when you start them from seed, you can grow pepper varieties that you’d NEVER be able to buy from the grocery store. From tangy bell peppers to fiery chilis, most gardeners find that home-grown peppers taste better and are more cost-effective than their store-bought counterparts.

The Additional Benefits of a Home Vegetable Garden

Beyond saving money on groceries, tending to a home vegetable garden offers extra perks that enhance your quality of life.

These advantages extend from the delightful flavors of fresh produce to the personal satisfaction and physical exercise gained through gardening.

Enhanced Flavor from Your Garden

When you grow your own vegetables, you’ll notice a significant difference in taste.

Heirloom varieties, often overlooked at conventional grocery stores, can be a garden staple, offering you complex flavors that are hard to find elsewhere.

  • Sweet Corn: Experience the rich sweetness of corn picked straight from the stalk.

  • Swiss Chard: Relish in the earthy tones of Swiss chard that only hours before was in your garden space.

Gardening: A Source of Exercise and Joy

Gardening isn’t just about the produce—it’s also a form of exercise and a way to find joy in everyday life.

From turning the soil to planting seeds and pulling weeds, you are moving your body and spending time outdoors, which contributes to both physical and mental well-being.

  • The Joy of Accomplishment: Watching seeds grow into fruits and vegetables provides a sense of achievement.

  • Stress Relief: Spending time in your garden can be a peaceful retreat from the busy world.

Gardening tips like creating a square foot garden tilled or using container gardening can optimize your space and minimize the initial costs of setting up.

Calculating Your Potential Savings

When considering the cost savings of growing your own vegetables, it’s essential to factor in both the initial costs and the recurring expenses.

Home gardening can be a way to save money on your grocery bill, especially if you focus on vegetables that are typically more expensive to buy in a store.

Start by calculating the costs of setting up your garden space. This will include the price of soil, seeds or plants, and any necessary tools.

A 2400 square foot garden can be a significant initial outlay, but remember, this space can yield a substantial amount of fresh produce.

Next, consider the cost of watering, fertilizing, and early spring preparations. If you choose to grow organic vegetables, this might also affect your costs.

To better understand your potential savings, here’s a simple breakdown of the space that some crops take versus their potential for cost savings:

  • Potatoes: A staple in many households and typically cheaper to grow your own.

  • Carrots and beans: High yield from a small area and less costly than store-bought, especially organic.

  • Sweet corn: More space-intensive, but growing your own can offer significant cost savings over grocery store prices.

  • Swiss chard and fresh herbs: High-priced items in the store that are cost-effective and easy to maintain in own gardens.

Remember to consider what you frequently eat. There’s no point in growing vegetables like sweet corn if no one in your house enjoys it.

Instead, focus on vegetables and fruits that you love. For instance, homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers can be used to make delicious canned salsa and fresh salads, offering not only money savings but also an enhanced taste experience.

Consider the longevity of your plants. Perennials like herbs, some berry bushes, and asparagus can provide produce for years to come, increasing your savings over time.

Getting Started with Your Vegetable Garden

Thinking about starting your own vegetable garden? Here’s how you can dive in. Remember, growing your own vegetables can indeed help save money if you plan wisely.

1. Choose the Right Location: Your garden space should get plenty of sunlight. Early spring is a good time to start a garden to enjoy cost savings throughout the growing season.

2. Start Small: Begin with a manageable space. Feel overwhelmed? Raised beds or containers can be a great option. They make gardening more accessible and easier to manage.

3. Invest in Quality Soil: Healthy plants need nutrient-rich soil. Adding compost can enrich your garden beds. This is essential for veggies like sweet corn or Swiss chard that are nutrient-hungry.

4. Select Your Vegetables: Pick varieties that are cost-effective versus buying groceries. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers give a significant amount of produce. Grow your own vegetables that you eat often to maximize savings.

5. Buy Seeds or Seedlings: Seeds are more economical, but seedlings can be easier for beginners. Growing from seeds offers more variety. For example, you can choose heirloom varieties that taste better than store-bought ones.

6. Companion Planting: Plan your vegetable garden with companion planting in mind. This can help in pest control and even enhance the growth and flavor of your veggies.

7. Gather Your Tools: You don’t need a lot, but quality tools can make a difference. Include a trowel, gloves, and a watering can in your gardening group of tools.

Expanding Beyond Vegetables

 

 When considering home gardening, it’s not just about growing your own vegetables. Expanding your garden space to include fruits and herbs can enhance both the diversity and the cost savings of your endeavors.

Growing fruit trees like apples or pears, and cultivating berry bushes such as raspberries and blackberries, can yield bountiful harvests. These perennials, including asparagus and other perennial vegetables, might have higher initial costs but can provide fresh produce for years.

Herbs like sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and mint require little garden space and can be quite costly at the grocery store. By adding these to your vegetable garden, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh herbs without spending extra money.

  • Organic produce: Growing your own vegetables and fruits creates organic options at home, avoiding premium prices for organic items in stores.

  • Potential savings: Although there’s an initial outlay for planting materials, the cost of growing, say, tomatoes or sweet corn, is often lower than buying groceries, giving rise to money saved.

  • Community gardens: Participating in a community garden can be a way to grow your own vegetables if space at home is limited.

For those with passion for home gardening, starting with a smaller 2400 square foot garden tilled could be just right. And for the home cooks, imagine canned salsa and fresh salads with fruits and vegetables from your own efforts; salsa that beats home-bought jars and vegetables taste better when picked fresh.

Early spring is a great time to start your home garden. Whether you’re looking to grow your own vegetables or mix in some own fruits and herbs, the growing season is your canvas. Not only could you save a significant amount of money on vegetables, but you’ll have the joy of eating what you plant, watching it grow, and knowing exactly where your food comes from.

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