Many people view gardening as a summer hobby, even a way to lower your grocery bill a little during the summer.
But if you are looking for some ways to save alot of money in your budget then you need to change your view of gardening as a hobby to a way to completely supply your food.
One of the number one comments I hear from people who are struggling to balance working, their children, and budgeting is their growing grocery bill.
You’re dealing with the pressures of food from all sides.
You’re told you need to buy organic food, you barely have time to prep food and so you need to buy prepared foods. The problem is that all of those things are causing either your grocery bill to skyrocket or your mommy guilt for not being able to provide it.
You are trying your hardest to lower your expenses in so many other areas but you don’t want to sacrifice your family’s health so you don’t touch your grocery bill. I’m here to tell you that there is another way.
In the beginning of us trying to lower our expenses drastically in order to get out of debt, we were also learning how to eat healthier. We wanted to buy all organic food but there was no way that our grocery bill could afford it.
Our solution was to grow it ourselves. We switched our mindset from growing a little bit of produce during the summer, to estimating how much produce we would eat during the year and trying to grow as much as possible of it.
If you are trying to lower your expenses in order to get out of debt, you NEED to be gardening to supply your own food.
These 5 tips will help you lower your grocery bill by gardening
Consider your family’s food preferences
If your family likes to make fajitas a lot, consider planting peppers. If your family likes to make lots of stews during winter, plant a lot of tomatoes and carrots. Think about the meals that you are always eating now and what you could do to grow that produce.
Evaluate space vs. expense of produce
If you are very limited on space you’ll want to consider what is the most expensive produce to buy in store. If I’m limited on space I’m not going to bother growing carrots and onions because they can be bought fairly cheap. Thinking about the foods that you eat and use the most often from step 1, compare the prices and plant more of the expensive produce.
Think outside the box for space needs
You do not need a large yard with a perfectly square plot of garden in order to successfully lower your grocery bill.
Break the garden space up
If you don’t have a large space available think of how you can break up the garden, with small spaces all over the yard. I put an entire row of climbing vegetables like snap peas, green beans, and cucumbers along my back fence. Instead of flowers in a planting area in our backyard I planted vegetables.
Dave Ramsey says if you must “live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else.” That includes finding ways to lower your grocery bills. Become the weird neighbor that has vegetables growing in your landscaping, you need to get out of debt! We have ripped a portion of front lawn in both our old and current house for a strawberry patch. I’ve had leeks going up my front walkway, lettuce in the front of our house, butternut squash growing along the mulch, kale on both sides of our driveway, and carrots and beets (which grown underground) growing along our sidewalk. Getting the idea? We care way more about getting out of debt then caring what our neighbors think.
Growing in shade
Alot of people discount their ability to grow anything because they have all shade. The truth is that you can grow a lot in the shade! All of the plants that you grow to eat their leaves can be grown in the shade! Instead of discounting it as non-growable area, I planted a whole side of my house that was in shade with leafy greens like kale and swiss chard. Leafy greens are a great way to have a healthy diet while getting out of debt because you can grow so many in a small area, and then freeze them in a gallon ziploc bag. They take up very little room once you take out the air out and you can use them in green smoothies, soups, egg casseroles, etc.
I have put extra containers all over my yard for extra herbs and plants. They do not have to be pretty containers that you go out and buy. There are plenty of resources online showing you how to reuse materials for gardening. My motto is that if I can save money by growing something in it, it’s being used.
Think of how you’ll preserve it.
The options that you have for preserving food is freezing it, canning it, and dehydrating it. We do a combination of all of those methods depending on the item, our space, and our time constraints. Remember, we are no longer gardening to have some fresh lettuce for the summer, but attempting to produce enough to feed us all year long.
We bought a separate upright freezer just for our garden produce and it was the best decision. We found ours on Craigslist for $75 and it has helped us save a tremendous amount of money on groceries. Freezing is going to be the easiest option for people who are very busy.
This is the most time intensive and learning curve required but it will allow you to preserve it in a way that is easy to use and doesn’t require the use of electricity for a separate freezer. So far we’ve found it useful to can tomatoes, applesauce, and jam.
This is the best method for space saving. Dehydrating significantly shrinks the space needed to store, has a long shelf life, doesn’t require special knowledge, and is fairly hands off (you let it sit for hours or even overnight). The most successful use of our dehydrating vegetables is in crockpot stews. We even gleaned mulberries once and dehydrated them. Once we poured hot water over them in oatmeal they tasted just like fresh!
Don’t go overboard with gardening supplies
It is very easy to have a good intention of saving money on groceries, just to go to the store and find yourself overwhelmed with the cost of seeds, seedlings, tools, soil, and tons of gardening accessories. For the most part, try to use your existing soil or look in your area for free soil resources. We shoveled a whole van load of composted manure that a farmer was giving away for free in order to have free soil. Avoid the cost of seedlings and start with seeds. Stay focused and remember that your goal is to garden to save money on your groceries, you do not need every gardening accessory there is.
Are you feeling encouraged and inspired to start a substantial garden this year? Gardening to supply your food for the year can significantly lower your grocery bill allowing you to pay off your debt. Let me know in the comments below if you’re ready to start your garden to save money.