Thursday, July 22, 2010

Frugal Friday - Spend now to save later

I do like to save money on groceries but I don't like using coupons (not that they are bad I just don't want to deal with them).  I do use them on occasion and am not against them.  But I like to try to eat whole foods if I can and so this summer I am canning and preserving like never before.  I grow a small garden at my home and I also am co-oping with a family from my church in their garden.  But what I have been doing is buying produce at the peak of the season from local farmers and orchards and canning or freezing it for the winter.

Green Beans - I have goals that I am trying to make and here is how I figure it.  For instance, green beans - I can them and I would ideally like to have enough green beans to have them twice a week, every week for 9 months out of the year.  So that would be roughly 72 quarts of green beans if my math is right.   I have also found that a 1/2 bushel of green beans (which fits in a 5 gallon bucket) will work out to be about 15-19 quart sized jars of canned green beans.  I call around to several local farmers (I meet them at farmers markets or I see signs on the roads) and ask prices and I usually go with the cheapest.  Don't pay by the pound, you want to ask how much it is by the bushel or half bushel because you get a price break!  In this part of the country it could cost about $26.00 for a bushel.  I haven't bought any yet this year because I canned the ones from my co-op garden but I want to buy more to can.  Last year I got half a bushel for $8.75 but I doubt I can get that price this year.

Peaches - I call several local orchards and ask where they get their peaches and how much they charge.  Again, the more you get the better the price.  I called one place and asked for 20 lbs. and she told me I get a good price break at 25 lbs.  So I went there and we happened to go on a great day when they had "seconds".  Seconds just means they have peaches that are needing to be eaten or canned or frozen very quickly.  We bought 100 lbs. for $0.75 per pound.  I split this with a friend.  We figured out that 10 lbs. of peaches would get you about 10 pints worth or 6 quarts worth.

Corn - I freeze corn and I have a farmer that has a stand very close to where I live.  I told them I wanted to freeze a lot and they told me that if I bought 10 dozen they would sell it for $2/dozen which is by far the cheapest around here even at the grocery stores plus it was grown and picked about 2 miles from here.  My friend and I bought 10 dozen and we ended up with  33 quart size bags with 4 cups each in them.

I also canned some carrots that I pulled from my co-op garden.   I have also done a lot of pickles from the cucumbers in my coop garden.  I did peach butter with the peaches I had that were too soft to can.  I made some blackberry jam from a friend's blackberries.   I made freezer slaw with some onions, cabbage and carrots I got from my co-op garden as well.  Basically if anyone is willing to give me some produce I will find a way to preserve it.

I would like to have enough preserved so that most of my veggies and side items are taken care of for the winter months.  It is a dream but I believe I am well on my way.  Not only is this cheap (I figured the corn is about $0.62 per quart size bag.  The only green beans costs were for the seeds.

I have spent the last 3 years slowly building up my supply of glass jars.  Each year I do a little more.  I would like to have my own huge garden but I don't have a lot of land so this is the next best thing.

This also explains why I haven't been blogging.  I cannot wait for the tomatoes to come in.  I am doing 20 more dozen ears of corn this weekend.  I hope to do a ton of applesauce this fall and whatever else I can think of.

I should say that I don't have a pantry at all, but my husband put up a wall of shelves in the garage for all of my cans and things.  He runs a fan in there when it gets really hot and he plans to finish insulating it before winter so my jars will keep.

I am keeping track of everything I spend and how much I get from it so I will be able to have a grand total and see how much I really save this winter.  It is a fun and frugal experiment!

For more frugal ideas, please visit Life as a Mom.


  1. I hit a produce auction last week and got bulk green beans, corn, and cukes to can and freeze. I love produce auctions! Your peaches look great.

  2. Jennifer,
    I don't know about these produce auctions. Tell me more.

  3. You're doing such a fabulous job! I'm doing much the same thing, both with my home garden and whatever I can find at the local produce place and local orchard. It is a lot of work during the summer, but I love knowing that my kids are eating homegrown produce that isn't full of pesticides.

  4. I love finding savings at grocery store sales - it's so much easier than handling coupons! Good tips for produce.

  5. I have spent most of my summer vacation in the kitchen canning and freezing. I grew up with a Granny who did all of this for us and I just can't eat veggies and jelly from the grocery store. As our families have grown, she can't keep up with all of us, so my mom and I have started helping out. I am the jam and jelly girl, my mom handles the green beans, corn and relishes, then we all share!


I love comments!