Stretch Your Food Budget by Planting a Garden
You probably already know that cooking your meals at home is one of the best ways to save money. But did you know you could save even more by growing some of your own produce? Planting and maintaining a garden is a great way to stretch your food budget. Plus, tending a garden is relaxing and you’ll love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from harvesting and enjoying produce you grow yourself.
Research and Prep
What you plant and when you plant largely depends on where you live. The soil quality and weather conditions in your area will help you determine what it’s worth your time and effort to plant. Doing your research ahead of time and preparing the soil appropriately will give you the best chance to succeed at your efforts.
Know What Pays
Get the most bang for your buck by growing vegetables that provide a high yield for minimal investment. These include:
- Salad greens like leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula and Swiss chard
- Green beans
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Squash, especially zucchini
There are also veggies that are cheaper and easier to continue buying at the store. Among them are onions and potatoes, which require a lot of water to grow and could increase your water bill, which would negate any savings.
If you don’t have the space for a full garden, or you’re not sure if you have the green thumb to pull it off, start small by growing herbs — like dill, parsley, basil and mint — in pots. You can even do this indoors if you prefer. Fresh herbs can be quite expensive to buy at the store, so growing your own will help you save a lot. Plus, a sprinkling of flavorful, fresh herbs gives even simple recipes an impressive gourmet touch.
There are also many veggies and fruits that grow well in containers outside, including tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers. Even a small patio space can become your own personal farm.
Plan for a Bumper Crop
Once your garden gets going, you’ll be surprised by how much extra you’ll have. Don’t let all that bounty go to waste. Figure out which vegetables you can freeze, and which you can preserve by canning. When all else fails, sharing your homegrown produce with friends and co-workers will make you very popular.