As I have mentioned before, I am a thrifty Yankee at heart. I still adhere to the guiding principles of reduce, reuse, recycle. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. If I can make it myself, I won’t purchase it. Which brings us to the fourth good reason to start canning and preserving – saving money on your grocery bill.
I’ve been practicing this approach for a long time now, and have found a few basic ways to save money canning/preserving. Over the years, the amount I save varies – but I always save a good chunk of cash. Here are just a few examples from 2012:
Grow it Yourself – Tomato Puree
My family loves tomatoes, and I grow lots of them. But one whole raised garden bed is designated for paste tomatoes to make puree. I can or freeze the puree and then use it all winter long in soups and sauces. 2012 was not my best tomato growing year, the spring was too wet and cold. But I still saved money. Here’s how:
- tomato seed – $3.49
- seed starter soil – $3.00
- seed containers – $0 (I use old milk containers)
- fertilizer – $4.50
- canning jars – $1 each (when new, most have been re-used several times)
- total (32 oz) jars preserved – 12 at $1.91 each (if using new jars)
- cost to purchase at grocery store – $4.40 each
- Total savings = $29.88
Pick it Yourself – Organic Blueberries
Last year we visited a local “you-pick” blueberry farm for the first time. I can’t wait to go back this year. In only two hours we picked 28 pounds of plump organic blueberries. I picked out the stems and leaves and then froze them for smoothies and muffins. This was by far the best self-sufficiency move I made last year!
- blueberries – $2.50 per pound
- freezer bags – $0.05 each (I used 5 large bags)
- total pounds frozen – 20 (we ate the remainder fresh)
- total cost – $50.25
- cost to purchase at grocery store – $224.00
- Total savings = $173.75
A Trip to the Farmer’s Market – Apricot Jam
If you don’t grow it yourself, and don’t have the option of a “you-pick” farm, there’s always the farmer’s market. Last year I bought a box of apricots to dry and to make jam.
- 20 lb box of apricots – $25.00
- sugar to make jam – $4.00
- jam jars – $1 each (when new, most have been used several times)
- total jars of jam made – 12 at $2.41 each (if using new jars)
- cost to purchase at grocery store – $6.99 each
- Total savings = $54.96 (actual savings was greater, as all 20 pounds of apricots did not go into the jam, some were dried and some were eaten fresh)
Make it at Home – Candied Orange Peel
Candied orange peel is a nice holiday treat that can be eaten as candy, dipped in chocolate, or used in homemade fruitcake. Plus it’s super simple to make and tastes much better than the commercially prepared kind. Large navel oranges are always on sale in December.
- 2 large oranges – $1.50
- sugar to make candied peel – $4.00
- total amount of candied peel make – 8 ounces for $5.50
- cost to purchase at grocery store – $9.37
- Total savings = $3.87
So there you have it, with just these few items alone I save more than $250 on groceries last year (the actual savings was higher as I re-used canning jars and freezer bags from earlier projects). And don’t forget, the homemade versions were higher quality than their grocery store counterparts – an added bonus! Are there any particular items you preserve to save money? Perhaps you make beef jerky, or your own butter, or corn relish? What is your favorite food item to preserve?
Check out all of my posts in this series: