Every year we are working on eating healthier and saving money, at the same time. In our current environment, this can really be a huge feat sometimes! Gardening can save you money. If you are striving to eat healthier, while also saving a bundle on your food budget, then here are 4 ways a personal garden may help you achieve this lofty goal.
Since groceries can be one of the largest portions of our budget, it is one of the categories we focus heavily on to reduce. Most American’s spend anywhere between 14 – 34% of their income on food, depending upon whether they fall into the lower or middle-class genre. That is a huge amount of our income on just this one category!
I can tell you that last year, we fell into the 14% category for our food budget. But this year, our goal is to reduce it and be closer to the 10% range. Right now, we are at the 8% mark. But that has a lot to do with the fact that we ended up getting some pretty decent tax returns back this year.
Since our goal is to reduce the amount we spend on food by approximately 4%, that means we have to make some changes. This is where a personal garden comes into play. If we are growing more of our own fresh food, then that is less we have to purchase at the grocery store. And I don’t know about you, but a pretty big chunk of our food budget is on fresh produce.
2. Working Up a Sweat
When we spend more time outside in our garden, we naturally have to work up a sweat. Working in a garden can be long, hard work some days.
After all, it isn’t easy to create a personal garden. And it can be even less easy to maintain it and make sure all of your crops grow properly. Or don’t get eaten by bugs!
There is nothing worse than taking the time to figure out which crops you want to plant, and putting in the sweat equity to create it, to then have bugs feast on the fruits of your labors. Or other wildlife, such as rabbits, squirrels and birds. The little stinkers!
But, taking the time to work diligently on the garden, instead of just hopping into the car to go to the grocery store can have great health benefits.
Some of these include:
- increased red blood cell oxygenation
- increased Vitamin D intake
- working out different muscle groups
- sweating out toxins
- increased water intake
On top of these great health benefits, this can also save you some money on gas. Plus, the extra wear and tear on your vehicle. This means extra life for your car and yourself, and more money in your pocket that you didn’t spend on gas. These are all huge perks in my book!
3. Garden Meal Creation
When you decide which crops to grow in your garden, you are helping to define some of the future meals you get to create.
What I mean by this is that once your crops are ripe (and they should vary, if you plan it right), then you will have a plethora of different choices at different times to cook with. This will vary depending on your plant hardiness zone, here in the US. If you aren’t sure what your zone is, or what crops will do best in your area, then please take a look at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
We happen to live in Raleigh, NC, so our plant hardiness zone is considered 7b. This means that our average annual extreme winter temperature in the past 30 years is between 5 – 10 degrees F. So anything we want to grow won’t be able to tolerate any temperature lower than that, in order to thrive.
The Urban Farmer is a great website to find the best crops for your hardiness zone. So if you aren’t sure, before you start your garden, then please go there first for an in depth list of what works best in your area.
Basically, the best way to maximize your garden is to:
- Choose a lot of crops that you already know
- Sprinkle in some new crops that you DON’T know each year
- Plan each area of your garden to have different crops growing at different times of the year (this not only increases the amount of food that you can grow, but also increases the overall soil health, which boosts the crops potential and the longevity of each plot of land)
I am always trying to learn new things, and incorporating new foods is just another way to do that.
Thinking outside the box with the crop choices also lends itself to more creative meal choices. Since we use what we have growing in each season, our meals change regularly.
A great example is tomatoes. We just happen to have a ridiculous amount of tomatoes (we call them “driveway tomatoes,” since that is where they originally sprung up) from about late April until late September. When these begin to pop up, we start making a lot of caprese, nachos, tacos and marinara sauce. All of these are so delicious!
But we don’t make those things very often, if at all, during the rest of the year. So we really enjoy the crop when it is with us.
4. Eating Less
As an even bigger bonus to growing our own food, we have a tendency to eat less than we would if we just purchased everything. This is due to two things, primarily:
- working hard in the garden gives us less time to hang out and eat
- our food is more nutrient dense, so we need less of it to be full
Plus, it can help shed a few pounds also. So having a personal garden causes us to eat less, which results in a thinner waist and a fatter wallet.Having a personal garden causes us to eat less, which results in a thinner waist and a fatter wallet. Click To Tweet
This is one of the biggest wins for having our own personal garden!
Gardening Can Save You Money
Overall, there are a lot of ways that having a personal garden can help us all save a bundle, and be healthier as a great side effect.
The four biggest ways we have found to save a bundle, and be healthier, are:
#1 – Saving on groceries
#2 – Gardening sweat equity
#3 – Getting creative with seasonal crops for new and exciting meals
#4 – Eating less to help our waistlines and our wallets
I hope you have enjoyed these tips and would love to hear how your garden has helped you save a bundle.
How have you been able to save a ton of money by having a personal garden? What are your secret tips and tricks?