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Preserve Your Own Food

Preserve Your Own Food

Frugal Friday this week speaks near & dear to me. I have recently began the journey into food preservation. You know, go old-school and "can" your food into jars to store for the apocalypse. Ok, not really, but one way to save on groceries is by gardening and preserving your bounty.

The art of canning dates way back to 1809 when Nicolas Appert responded to a request by the French army to create a method for preserving foods for a long period of time. Large armies require lots of food, especially if they are deployed for extended periods. And, I'm sure that if you've ever visited a grandparent's home, you've probably reaped the rewards of their harvest. There's just something flavorful about preserving your own food. There's absolutely no added preservatives other than water & vinegar for the most part, thus leaving the homegrown goodness in ample supply.

Breaking Down The Costs

Many may think that canning food costs so much and you don't get much in return. I'm sure you've seen the meme's out there stating "After 6 weeks, $140 in supplies, daily watering, etc... We're only so close to saving 25¢ on our vegetables." Well, let's take a quick peak at the basic cost* of store bought canned items. They may seem cheap, but the costs do add up in the long run.

    • Green beans: 74¢/ea
    • Pasta Sauce: $1.62/ea
    • Pickles: $2.30/ea (depending on the style)
    • Tomato Sauce: 96¢/ea
    • Corn: 64¢/ea
    • Green Peppers: 82¢/ea
    • Tomatoes (Diced, whole, sliced): $1.36/ea
    • Potatoes: $3.50-$4.00/5lb bag
    • Carrots: 88¢

Total cost of store bought items each time you have to go = approximately $12.82, given you only purchase 1 of all the items listed above. And let's be honest, we usually "stock-up" when we're at the store. To add, tack on the cost of milk, meat, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and snacks - your cart is now piled high with all the things you need to buy. That total now tips the scale around the $300-400 mark.

Having all of these things on hand, reduces your cost at the grocery store immensely. Plus, you're getting less added preservatives and a fresher, healthier meal.

*Prices taken from Walmart.com, shopping mostly generic store brand.

Cost of Canning

Now let's take a look at the initial cost of getting into canning. This may be a large price to get into, but the overall cost savings you'll have year after year is unmatched.

    • Pressure Cooker: $120.00
    • Box of canning utensils: $9.50
    • Pint Jars: $12.00/doz
    • Quart Jars: $13.00/doz
    • Lids: $2.50/doz
    • Seasoning packets: $3.50/ea

The total comes to around $160.50, depending on where you bought your supplies and if they were on sale or not. Once you have the items, there's nothing overly taxing to purchase in the following years. Sure, you will have added costs of buying more jars, lids, and possibly seasoning packets (if you wish), but once you begin using your preserved products, you'll have more jars to reuse. And if you happen to have a credit card that offers cash back or even rewards on purchases, that takes more of a burden off of that initial investment.

Of course, you cannot forget about the gardening costs. The price of your seeds, plants, water & labor costs can add up, but if you've done your due diligence and price shopped for plants or even saved seeds from previous years, the cost diminishes over time.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there is nothing more frugal out there than preserving your own food. Sure, gardening is hard work, but some may find it therapeutic and fulfilling. Gardening, canning, and preserving food is not for everyone, but it's definitely worth a shot if you're getting down right disgusted at the price of food anymore. Growing your own is a great way to save money in the long run.

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