Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Frugal Tuesday - To Can or Not to Can, That is the Question

So, I've spent a few hours in the last while going through my seeds and trying to decide what and how much of everything I need to plant this year. Mountain Man doesn't seem to quite understand my deep need to grow our own food. He sure enjoys the everything I grow and make, but he asked me last week why I can tomatoes when I can usually purchase them for $1 a can on sale. So, of course this got me thinking...  again!

Of course for me the reasons to grow our food are varied and many. The biggest of course being the health benefits.
  1. No pesticides or chemicals in my food
  2. Home grown food is more nutritious and better tasting
  3. I get a more exercise which makes me healthier
  4. I get the vitamin D I need from the sun 
  5. The therapy of gardening contributes to contentment and a happy home
Sure gardening takes time and preserving the harvest can be very time consuming but for me the benefits are so great I can't understand why more don't do it. But what about the cost? So many times there are those who say "I can't understand gardening, unless you enjoy it as a hobby, when you factor in your time your not really saving any money." Hmm...  Really? I suppose if I take my time into account these naysayers are right. However, I have never considered my time as money. If I have the time, why not do something with it which will benefit my family? If I spend my spare time reading a book or watching movies what is my time worth then? Not that I don't enjoy relaxing because I think I have made it into an art form this winter, but I would rather be doing something to enhance our family life and health given the choice.

So, lets go back to those tomatoes and Mountain Mans question. How many do we use in a year and how much can I really save by growing and preserving them myself?

Tomato products we use in a year and how much they cost: (this is of course just for the two of us but you can see we use a lot of tomatoes)  All prices are sale prices from my area, and items we would regularly purchase which isn't always the least expensive as taste is factored in.
  • Canned tomatoes whole or diced, 52 cans, $52 
  • Tomato sauce, 30 cans, $30 
  • Pasta sauce, 20 jars, $50
  • Tomato paste, 30 cans, $18
  • Pizza sauce, 52 cans, $31
  • Ketchup, 12 bottles, $38
  • BBQ Sauce, 8 bottles, $28
  • Sundried tomatoes, 3 lbs, $10
  • Tomato soup, 35 cans, $21
  • Salsa, 12 medium sized jars, $36
Total cost? Approximately $314 a year. Not too bad really but remember this is only for tomatoes. The cost for me to grow and preserve all these items is about $30, this includes seeds and propane for canning if it is too warm to use the wood stove. Total savings? about $284. I guess when you say it fast it doesn't seem like much money at all, especially over a year, however, I think the benefits far out weigh everything else. One thing I always keep in mind when purchasing anything. Taking into account taxes and fees you really need to double the price of everything you buy to get the real cost, with this in mind it is a a fair amount of money.

So lets see...  Total savings so far this year taking into account: our water filter $300, baking $502, - and canning just tomatoes $284 = $1086. Not a bad start!

How are you saving money this year?


  1. I totally agree that a garden is the way to go. Even if you don't can up food(but we do). We have fresh food all summer long and even save on gas running to the grocery for fresh stuff. I love working in the garden, my kids aren't as thrilled but they help.

    1. I know I wasn't thrilled as a child either but I am so glad my mother persisted as I love it now.

  2. I agree with you Glo and with Jessica. Not only are you saving money, eatting food that doesn't have all the chemicals or preservatives but you're relaxing and enjoying the garden. Relaxation is also an issue with humans across the country which inturn creates medical problems/issues.

  3. I totaly agree with you on the canning, it is such a great feeling to look into the pantry & see all those jars & know that you did it yourself. My husband loves that I can our produce from the garden. You just cant get the same taste from a can as you do from a jar of fresh home canned foods.

  4. That is a great breakdown...I've never seen it layed out so clearly. And when you are health conscious and would only purchase tomato products with certain ingredients (more expensive) you save even more by doing it yourself. Thanks for sharing!

  5. It's not until you do the sums you realise just how much money is saved by growing your own. I must confess I'd not ever sat down to do the sums and am really impressed with your results. I really agree with your 5 reasons for working out in the garden too!
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us on Natural Mothers Network!
    I am really looking forward to the Seasonal Celebration Linky Party #5 going live tomorrow morning! Hope you're able to pop by! Have a great weekend!
    Rebecca x

  6. Here in the US, we also have to contend with BPA chemicals in most of our canned tomato products, another reason to grow your own.

    One of my biggest food dollar savers is making my own bone broth. A container of additive-free (no MSG & such) broth is $3.50- $4.00 a quart. I can make a gallon at a time with chicken bones,(no cost, if you consider most people put them in the trash)water, salt and the cost of plugging in the crockpot. So, the price goes from $16 for a gallon, to less than $1.


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