Is Growing Your own Food Cheaper in Reality?
I get this question a lot when I talk to people about growing the majority of the food they eat for themselves. “Is growing your own food cheaper, really?”
It should be obvious, but for some reason people don’t seem to want to believe it. If you think about paying someone to pain your house or fix your car, it is universally accepted that there are huge savings to be had if you do the work yourself.
If you aren’t paying for labor, you’re going to save huge amounts of money.
Yes, of Course it’s Cheaper
Growing your own food is far cheaper than purchasing those same products at the grocery store. Just about anything you can build or create for yourself is bound to be cheaper than if you are paying someone else to do it.
If you remove labor costs needed to grow, harvest, package, and deliver your food, you are going to save huge amounts of money.
I think the confusion stems from the initial costs associated with growing your own food. People tend to balk at investments of any kind.
However, the return on investing in the resources needed to grow your own food is second to none once you get started.
You can also keep the start up costs super low if you look in the right places.
I will offer up a number of resources I rely on in future posts, and I will list out a few of my favorites at the bottom of this post.
What the Hell do I Grow? It’s Personal
This is a tough question to answer with much specificity, but I have two general rules. Start with something easy, and something you spend a lot of money on.
Gather your grocery receipts for a couple of months and see which items you spend the most money on. It’s usually not even close.
For us, we spent more on chicken than anything, by far, so we started there. We didn’t know jack sprat about raising chickens, either. I just figured it couldn’t be too hard; and it isn’t.
Find Your Gold and Start There
We found some chicken raising resources online, (my personal favorite) and within a few months, we were eating our own homegrown chicken. Not only were they our own, but these were chickens who spent their lives running around doing what chickens were meant to do.
Our chickens ate grass and bugs and non-gmo organic feed. They scratched in the dirt and did other chicken things. They were living the dream life for a chicken. The chickens drastically decreased our tick population and provided us with free entertainment.
The meat from our own chickens is the cleanest, healthiest chicken in the world. Instead of paying $7.99 for the closest comparable chicken in the grocery store ( a true comparison doesn’t exist in the grocery store, BTW), we pay in the neighborhood of $3.00/lb.
Chickens may not make the most sense for you in the beginning, but if you eat chicken I highly recommend raising a few of your own.
Do a little math, find out where your food money goes, and pick one or two things to get you started down the path of growing your own food.
If you do the math and don’t know where to start, feel free to post your list in the comments section, and I will make some suggestions to get you started in the right direction.
Don’t Grow too Fast
The biggest issue with getting started is trying to do too many things right out of the gate. Or growing far too much of one thing. We didn’t start with 100 chickens. Even though we easily consume that many chickens in a year, we started off with ten.
It made for an easily manageable transition into raising chickens. We were able to test our set up, and learn from our mistakes, and failures. It was easy to go from 10 to 30 once we had the kinks worked out of the system. It will be easy to go from 30 to 100 and beyond when we want to start selling some of our chickens.
I always recommend easing out of the starting blocks. Whether it is the first step into growing your own food, or you are adding a new item to your personal menu. Go slow, make sure it’s enjoyable, tasty, and a satisfying from all angles before you ramp things up.
You’re also not going to eat 1,000 tomatoes in a single week, so don’t plant 1,000 tomatoes at the same time. Unless, of course, you want to dive headlong into the magic of canning.
It takes a little foresight once you want to start scaling up, but if you start small and keep it easy to manage, you will find it’s easy to add on fairly quickly.
Learn to Trade- And Save even more
One of the things you’ll find when you start to grow your own food is that no matter how well you plan, you will always end up with too much of one thing or another.
If you ever find yourself with a surplus, don’t let it go to waste. You can always find someone in need of fresh, homegrown food. You can either just give it away, or often find a willing trade partner.
This is especially true among other people who grow some of their own food as well. If you have too much lettuce, find someone with too much broccoli or too many carrots and fill out your menu. Great food is too good to waste
If you get to the point where you can purposely create a surplus, you can trade for all sorts of things and even sell some of your stuff. However, giving away any surplus food in the beginning is a great way to create a following and willing trade partners.
Remember that people can’t find the kind of quality in the supermarket that you can produce in a home grown environment, so once they give your home grown food a try, you will find them asking for more.
Create Your Menu on the Cheap
Think of a meal that you eat once a week. If you can grow, or raise, the majority of the items in that meal, you are on your way to growing your own food, and saving on your food bill for the year.
If you save $10 on that meal by growing it yourself, you can save more than $500 over the course of a year on that one meal alone. Pretty savvy, if you ask me.
It Is a Simple Reality that Growing Your own Food is Cheaper
There is no doubt that growing your own food is cheaper. It is also a practice that will fill more than just your stomach. Seeing food on the table that we created for ourselves is pretty cool. It gives us complete insight into what we are eating. We also learn the value of real food, and many other lessons along the way.
Growing your own food is both an enlightening and interesting way create value in our lives. Far more interesting than cutting coupons to save a few cents on inferior food at the grocery store.
If you have any questions on how to get started, drop a note in the comments, and I will offer up some ideas to help you get up and running.