The ULTIMATE Money Saver (and Health Too) — Grow A Garden!

Filed under :Gardening - producing your own food

Yes, it’s that time of the year when we need to start planning for spring!

One of the best ways to save on your grocery bill is to grow your own food.  You would be surprised just how much money you can save even with just a small 4′ x 4′ raised bed.   And you can be very frugal with the costs of gardening as well.  Let’s start with some frugal gardening tips that are sure to not only help with your initial costs for setup with your garden, but will help you long-term to provide amazing vegetables for your family and save you on your food bill.

I’ve researched many different “methods” of gardening over the years and I’d like to share my thoughts with you on what I’ve found that works and what doesn’t work.  Far too often, people set out to construct a garden that will feed their entire family the first year.  The garden is usually way to large in size and no one has given any thought to the amount of time and energy it will take to maintain.  That usually results in the person failing at their gardening attempt and just giving up to the weeds.  I would like to show you what will work and how you can be successful with your own vegetable garden.

First, the traditional “row” method is very labor intensive and time consuming.  I’ve found several major flaws with the row method that eventually leads to the home garden abandoning their garden.

  • Weeds – with traditional row gardening, there is weeding that must be done routinely.  This can take a good deal of time and energy.  Many gardeners call it quits.
  • Soil erosion – you work so hard to build your soil so that it’s rich and full of the nutrients your vegetable plants need.  One rain can wash all of that hard work away and leave the gardener walking around in a mud hole.
  • Space – so much of your garden space in traditional row gardening is dedicated to your walking paths and not to growing your vegetables.  That’s more space that the garden has to maintain and weed regularly.  And the gardener ends up with a garden which is larger than really needed.

What type of garden do I recommend?  The raised bed system.  It is probably the easiest method that I’ve found and it’s the most productive method.  With proper mulching, weeds are easy to keep at bay.  Weeding is probably the number one reason that people abandon their gardens.  Weeding is very laborious and time consuming – and not something you can do with a bad back.  With a heavy rain, the amazing top soil that you’ve worked so hard on isn’t all washed away.  You can intensively garden in a much smaller and compact space and that will ultimately save you time.   I suggest that if you are interested in starting a garden to grow food to feed your family, please research the raised bed method.  I will write another post on building your raised bed garden for LITTLE OR NO COST.

If you live in an apartment or in an area that is prohibited for you to install a vegetable garden, you may want to consider what you can do with “container” gardening.  I’ll write a post on this at a later time.

Yesterday, I headed over to the Dollar Tree to do a little shopping and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even the Dollar Tree (where everything is $1) had their gardening items stocked.   The seeds were 4 packets for $1 and plastic gardening pots were only $1.

Do you grow a vegetable garden?

Good Monday Morning! Let’s Talk About Saving Money on FOOD :-)

Filed under :Food Storage, Freezer, Meal Planning, ZIPLOCK Bags and Containers

This past weekend was a test for me personally.  I know that you’ve been there before too.  You take off on a Saturday to run errands, visit some friends, go places with the family and then you come home and it’s late and everyone is HUNGRY!  But you didn’t leave out anything to thaw and you didn’t really have plans for your dinner today because you thought you would be back home much earlier and you’d just take care of it them.  But you didn’t arrive home early – you arrived home LATE.  Now – what are you going to do?

Let me introduce you to DOUBLE COOKING.  Yes…. There are times with some of our favorite meals that I will DOUBLE UP and cook two of the same meals (at the same time).  We have one of the meals for dinner and the other meal I place in the freezer for times that I’m unprepared and I need to cook something quick!  Now this doesn’t work with all meals – some things freeze well and other food items do not.  I’ll share some of the meals that I like to DOUBLE COOK and they work well for my family.

Our favorite of course is spaghetti – it is to easy to cook a double batch of sauce and noodles.   And it is so easy to freeze and lasts very well in the freezer too.   Just double your recipe for sauce – put aside 1/2 of what you cook and let it cool down.   Then place into one of the ziplock plastic containers and pop into the freezer.  It’s equally as easy to do the spaghetti noodles as well.  Just double up on the noodles you are preparing for your meal, drain and rinse.  Many times I will let the extra noodles sit in cool water while we eat our meal.  Then when I’m cleaning the kitchen, I’ll scoop them out and place them in a ziplock plastic container (or I’ve even put them in a ziplock freezer bag) and then place them in the freezer.

Another item we like to double up on cook is beef or pork roast.    It can be reheated and eaten again.  Or, if you want to change things up a bit, make BBQ for sandwiches from it :-)   That is always a hit.   Baked or roasted chicken is a great item to double up on when cooking.  It takes the same amount of electricity to cook one as it does two – so you’re saving some money there too!   For the 2nd chicken, I like to let it cool down and then remove the meat from the bone.  I separate the white meat from the dark meat.  The white meat is used for preparing items like chicken salad and the dark meat is what I use in soups and casseroles or even chicken pot pie :-)

Another item that freezes well is soup.  We love soup – beef, chicken, pork or just plain vegetable soup.  And it’s so easy to cook in the crock pot or the pressure cooker.  Let your 2nd batch cook well and then place in the freezer in a large ziplock plastic container.  When you’re ready to re-heat it, let it thaw for about an hour or so and then just heat and serve with some cornbread or garlic toast.

So where’s the ‘SAVING MONEY’ for this post?  There are several money saving tips – first, when you cook the meal it usually takes the same amount of electricity to cook one batch as it does two.  Second, instead of coming home and ordering pizza delivery, you’re saving money because you already have a home-cooked meal right inside your freezer than can be microwaved :-)

I’d love to hear from some of you – what meals have you had success freezing that would work well for double cooking?