Cost Savings of Growing Food vs. Store-Bought Groceries
As fresh, unprocessed food prices rise, you’re probably looking for ways to stretch your grocery money. One way to save is to grow some of your favorite fruits and vegetables. A small garden can provide fresh food for your family and save you hundreds of dollars each year.
You can grow your produce if you have a sunny spot in your yard and are willing to put a little muscle into the project. A sunny balcony will also work since various plants grow well in pots and planting boxes.
Cost-Saving Examples of Growing Produce vs. Store-Bought Produce
Let’s break down the baseline cost of starting your food garden.
- Seedlings = $4.00 each
- Garden soil = $5.00/cubic foot
- Plant food = $8.00 for a 3 lb. bag
Here are a few examples of easy-to-grow produce that’ll save you money and result in bountiful yields…
For example, if you want to grow tomatoes, you’ll pay about $6.00 for the materials and yield at least 15 lbs. of tomatoes from one plant during the planting season. If you bought 15 lbs. of tomatoes at a grocery, you’d pay about $1.50/lb. for a total of $22.50. That’s a savings of $16.50.
Lettuce is another easy vegetable to grow. A 10 oz. bag in the grocery will cost about $2.50. If you purchase 20 bags during the growing season, you’ll spend $50.00. If you grow your lettuce, you can pick it fresh from your garden and save about $44.
Raspberries are a great fruit to grow. They require full sun and a little patience – most varieties won’t begin producing fruit until their second year – but the payoff is worth it. It’s a prolific perennial plant, so if you start with one plant, expect to see at least five more plants each year. At a grocery store, you’ll pay $4.00 for just a 6 oz. pack of organic raspberries. With your berry garden, you’ll have pounds of organic fruit that can be eaten fresh off the cane, turned into jam, or canned for the entire year.
You might be thinking that there’s more to growing a garden than just seeds, soil, and plant food that can affect the actual cost of a garden. But there are always budget-friendly ways to get into gardening.
Budget-Friendly Gardening Tips
After perusing several gardening sites, we’ve compiled gardeners’ top recommendations for keeping costs low as you build your garden:
Start with seeds instead of buying seedlings/transplants. A pack of seedlings or transplants in a nursery cost $5 or more, whereas a packet of seeds will run you $2-3 and can grow more plants exponentially.
Look for seed swaps in your area, where you can bring seeds to swap with someone so you take home a new varietal at no extra cost. You can easily find gardening groups on social media or by checking with your local nursery.
Repurpose and reuse containers to help grow your seedlings. You can use just about anything to get started or grow your vegetables. For example, clamshells, yogurt, Styrofoam meat trays, newspapers, and egg cartons work well to get your seedlings started before transport to a larger growing container.
Larger containers for growing your fruits and vegetables could be 5-gallon buckets, large plastic woven reusable shopping bags, and free found materials to create a raised garden bed.
Gardening soil and plant food can get expensive depending on the size of your garden. Composting is a free way to create your own soil with your existing resources. A small, inexpensive composting bin will usually do the trick.
Growing your own vegetable and fruit garden not only helps you prune your grocery bills in the long run, but it’s also an excellent way to provide healthy, organic food for your family and pick up a beneficial hobby.