Lower your grocery bill with a garden!

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If winter would ever LEAVE, I could get my seeds in the ground already! Seriously though, I saw an IG post the other day that perfectly described this year’s weather so far, “It doesn’t feel like April. More like January 93rd.” Here in East TN, it was 80 degrees and sunny on Friday, snowed on Sunday, and was 70 again by Tuesday.

Nevertheless, I am excited to get my vegetable garden planted. Last year was our first year at our new house and I chose to plant fun things for my first go at gardening. I planted pumpkins, watermelon, corn, cantaloupe, potatoes, beans, cucumbers and a few others. All did well, which was a huge confidence booster. Unfortunately, I didn’t pant enough to save and enjoy after the growing season was finished. Lesson learned. This year, my approach is to plant the vegetables that we buy at the store each week. It will not only be exciting to eat the produce I grew each day, but I will plant enough to save for later use and save money all year. If you shop seasonally, meaning you buy what is in season in your area, typically the prices are lower during that season. For us, that usually means in summer and early fall you can fresh local produce for next to nothing, which is great. It’s in the off seasons when you still want fresh berries, corn, and tomatoes that the prices increase. Those items are shipped farther from other places where the weather is still nice. So, the more I freeze and jar, the more money I save come fall and winter.

This year I am planting, strawberries, watermelon, corn, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, lettuces, spinach, and two kinds of tomatoes. The tomatoes I will stew, jar and make sauce from, the corn I will freeze, along with the squashes, beans, brussels, and berries. The watermelon and lettuces are for us to enjoy this summer. Not far from us is a local berry farm, which I encourage all of you to search for in your area. They have a “pick your own” blueberry field and you pay by the weight. This is a berry that gets eaten instantly in our house but unfortunately, in the off season, they aren’t cheap. You can buy frozen, but they’re never as good as fresh or even when you freeze them yourself. This is another great resource I take advantage of in the summer. I make multiple trips to pick berries so that we can enjoy as much as we want fresh, and I still have plenty (hopefully) to freeze and enjoy come fall and winter.

If you have any green space where you live, I highly recommend starting a garden to help save some money. Even if you don’t have green space, you can grow your own veggies in pots or in above ground plots. It’s a huge money saver if you eat a diet full of fresh produce and it’s also so rewarding. Even just to grow your own lettuces and leafy greens is a huge money saver if you eat a lot of salads. Spinach, arugula, and kale aren’t always cheap in the stores so if you can offset those expenses for even just 1 season out of the year, it helps.

I can not wait to have my son crawling around the garden this year, as he is still too little to walk. He’ll get dirty, probably eat some grass, and it’ll be so fun.

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