For my first post at ImpulseSave, I wrote about how my family shops healthy on a budget by purchasing Happy Cow. But this isn’t the only way my family has chosen to save money on food while eating a healthy diet; we also have a garden.
A Family of Gardeners
My family has quite a history of gardening and frugal parents: all of my grandparents had gardens that my parents worked on (and, fun fact, one of my grandfathers was a beekeeper for quite some time), so I shouldn’t have been that surprised when my dad told me in high school that we were going to grow an acre of corn that summer. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic, since I knew it would require a lot of work.
You might be thinking, “An acre? How did you eat that much corn?” Well, we didn’t. We gave some to friends and family, but with the announcement that we would grow corn, my dad also told me that my brother and I could sell the extra corn and keep the money we got. This got me excited, and it actually turned out to be a fun way to save money.
So that summer we planted, weeded, and set up shop by our house to sell corn to anyone who wanted it. People were pleased since the corn was organic, didn’t contain any pesticides and was much cheaper than store-bought corn, so they were able to shop healthy on a budget.
Our Garden Today
The cornfield is gone now, but the yard sure isn’t empty. Now, it’s filled with blueberry bushes, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, basil, hot peppers, lettuce, onions, and soon we’ll even have an avocado tree!
Of course it’s a lot of work, but there are tricks that can help you along the way. One thing that helps my family is first planting seeds into a little greenhouse like the one below (it comes with a top), and only when some of them start to grow are they transplanted into the actual garden.
It’s definitely worth it. Besides the fact that additional plants prove to be great gifts for frugal parents (the blueberry bushes my sister and I bought for Father’s Day were a hit), fresh food from the garden always tastes better store-bought produce. And also, it’s cheaper!
For example, the tomato seeds we bought cost about $2 a pack, and one pack provided enough seeds to fill our 72-seed greenhouse. Since the greenhouse cost about $6 to buy, it only cost $8 to grow 72 tomato plants! (Plus we can reuse the greenhouse!) Therefore, each tomato plant cost about 11 cents to grow. And furthermore, since tomato plants tend to yield between 10-15 pounds of tomatoes, even if your tomato plant produces on the lower side with 10 pounds, that means it costs about 1 cent to grow a pound of tomatoes. I don’t think I need to show you a comparison for you to get that this is much less than you would pay for a pound of tomatoes at the store, but I will anyway. According to the Agricultural Marketing Service’s “National Fruit and Vegetable Report” issued July 13, a pound of tomatoes costs $1.37 on average.
So Start Growing And Start Saving Money Today!
For us, gardening is a great way for our family to save money since we’ve got so many mouths to feed. I understand that my family has more space in our yard than some others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of the space you’ve got! Being a college student, I frequently wonder about how to save money during college, and seeing the success of my family’s garden has inspired me to do what I can to eat fresh, healthy and inexpensive food when I go back to school. One of my friends previously joined a community garden, and since I’ll be living in an apartment and won’t really have a backyard to call my own, that sounds like the perfect option for me and my college spending money!
So why not start a garden of your own and start saving money on food? If you’re really busy or don’t have a lot of space to garden, start out with just a few plants so you can get the most out of your time and space. And if you’re growing tomatoes, impulsesave the $1.36 you’ll save for every pound you grow!
Do you have any other tips on how to eat on a budget?