How a Backyard Garden Saved Our Family $6000+ on Groceries in One Year.

by Becky Porter
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Let me take you back to when I was sick with stomach pains and acid reflux. I had been trying every diet imaginable and the latest one was Paleo. I ate strict paleo for almost a year. Because Paleo is heavy on meat and vegetables our average monthly grocery bill was $1200. We do have a family of six. I was the only one who was on the Paleo diet but dinners were made so that I could eat them too.

I should also clarify that in “grocery” bill I include eating out. Lots of people will tell you their grocery bill is $200 and yet they spend $1200 on eating out. So for the sake of comparing apples to apples, groceries includes all food consumption dollars spent. However, we rarely eat out so our grocery bill really does consist of mostly food from the grocery store.

After eating the Paleo diet for a long time, I slowly added all foods back into my diet in 2015. Our average grocery bill was still $1100 per month! I think because our kids were getting bigger and eating more the cost of all the food was almost the same. I am also health conscious so we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables which can get expensive.

 my quater acre garden

my quater acre garden

In 2016, I expanded my garden to a quarter acre. In May of 2017, our family made a goal to eat only the vegetables from our backyard for one year. This was the game changer because we changed several things in the way we ate.

  1. We cut out 90% of our store bought processed food.

  2. Obviously, we were saving a ton of money by shopping only from our garden for vegetables.

  3. Our consumption of fruit was heavily supplemented from the backyard garden.

  4. I made just about everything from scratch. All of our meals were from scratch. Everything from tortillas to bread to crackers, homemade mayo, and dressings.

  5. I preserved my own food from the garden. I canned tomatoes, pickles, jams. I dehydrated peppers, tomatoes, and squash. I froze green beans, corn,  and kale. Fermented pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut. You get the idea.

  6. I did meal plans a week in advance- most of the time. I’m not perfect at this one because in summer I go to my chart of Recipes Organized by Vegetable (you can read more about that HERE) and find something to make. If I don’t have an ingredient, I substitute something I do have on hand.

  7. We bought all our meat in bulk from local farmers.

  8. I bought all my grains in bulk. I have a grinder and if I need anything ground for flour I do it myself for much cheaper.

  9. Eating seasonally brought a more natural cadence to our diets. In the summer, we are almost vegetarian. The majority of the meals have little meat because we have so much bounty from the garden. As winter came on, we added more meat to our food because there was less coming from the garden.

  10. We went to the store less often. Once every 2-3 weeks was all that was necessary. Consequently, we had less impulse buys and saved money.

  11. A penny saved is worth more than a penny earned. Your garden food isn’t taxed and you get to enjoy all the savings.

The Numbers Details:

Our total grocery bill now averages out to $525 a month for the year. That is a savings of $575 per month (compared to our 2014 and 2015 grocery average). Our $525 grocery cost is including $30 for 3 kids buying lunches at school once a week and $100 for my husband’s out to eat lunches. $525 Divided equally that is about $87 per person for the month.  $22 per person per week. $3.14 per person per day.

If you are doing the math, the actual amount saved for the year was $6900. I subtracted all our garden associated costs for the year and then took off a little more for anything that went under the radar. So total savings including costs for one year is around $6000.

The amazing part is that we were eating healthier than ever. There were no coupons involved. As you may know, whole foods hardly ever go on sale.

 Garden Fresh Beans

Garden Fresh Beans

Buying meat locally was cheaper for beef. Chicken locally was more expensive than the big box store. BUT I bought whole chickens from our local farmer to save money and cut them myself into pieces. The bones became broth, so we always got at least two meals for one chicken. And if you buy quality local chicken, it is usually air chilled and not weighed down with a salt solution like what you find at the store. Consequently, the store bought chicken looks cheaper per pound but it may not be after all the liquid salt solution cooks out.

Yes, I do have to do a little more work. Growing a garden to last you all year is no small feat. Add on the time to make all the food from scratch and it is definitely a commitment.

However, the benefits are amazing!

  • We eat healthier than ever

  • We saved $6000 in one year and continued that trend!

  • The quality and taste of the food is off the charts.

  • My stomach pain and acid reflux disappeared.

  • We learned lots of new homestead skills.

Applying the 11 tips above will save you money. If you can’t do all the tips pick a few and try them so it feels attainable. It has taken me many years to get where I am and my journey started with baby steps. The most important thing is that you try!

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