growing vegetables to save money

14 Simple Tips On How to Grow Vegetables to SAVE Money

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Growing veg to save money can be an awesome way to both reduce your food bill, improve what’s in your diet and include the whole family in the activity.  This isn’t an endeavour that needs hue investment either financially or in time spent.  And you won’t need to dig over the entire garden or find an allotment in order to grow vegetables to save money.  Use our 14 simple tips to get started with the minimum budget, the minimum time and start seeing results in 21 days or earlier!

Grow What You Are Buying

The quickest way to saving money by using your garden is by looking at what you spend the money on.  Look at the vegetables that you buy regularly from a supermarket, grocery or farm shop.  This is absolutely the best way to make sure that this becomes a habit that you stick to.  Simply replace what you’re spending money on by growing it yourself.  There’s no need to make any other changes that might be harder to stick to.  Growing your own vegetables might be the first step you take in making bigger changes to what you’re eating and how you’re cooking it, but let’s start with small steps and make them stick.

So take a look at what you’ve been buying, what vegetables you include in your meal plans and let’s figure out how to grow them yourselves!  Starting out a beginner vegetable garden this way is a super way to ensure that you actually eat what you’re growing – because there’s no point growing a whole lot of veg that you aren’t going to eat!

Get Quick Savings with Fast Growing Veggies

The absolute best way to keep your interest in growing vegetables going and growing is to see fast results.  With fast results, you’ll not only start saving sooner rather than later but the motivation you’ll get from seeing AND eating the result of your labours will spur you on to greater endeavours!  Take a look at these FAST GROWING VEGETABLES and see which of them are on your regular shopping list?  If they’re not are they easy substitutes?

  • You can eat CRESS about 3 days after sowing
  • You can harvest salad leaves like chicory, endive, sorrel, spinach (find out how to grow spinach in pots here!), mizuna, mibuna, rocket and mustard from as little as 21 days! > Get these quick growing salad leaves now!
  • Baby kale – a type of cabbage that you can use in stir-fries, or as a side dish for roasts and more will be ready to eat in about 30 days
  • Growing beetroot has two benefits – baby beets will be ready to eat in about 35 days, but you can also harvest the leaves to include in your salads. Plus it’s a seriously easy veg to preserve too
  • Like swedes? Or turnips? They are seriously easy to grow and are ready in about 35 days.
  • Even courgettes will be ready to eat in 40 days – and their flowers, which you can also cook are ready even before that! > these are great courgettes for beginners to grow

Like Expensive Veggies? – Grow them Instead

The two most expensive veggies that we have in our diet are salad leaves and fresh tomatoes, so I’m going to use them as an example here.

plant salad leaves in june

We usually would buy two bags of salad leaves a week for our family shop.  That costs us at least £2.20 a week, which is actually a large part of the food budget, especially when you add it up over a longer period.  Salad leaves are one of the easiest vegetables to grow.  And they’re really quick to grow too.  From seed to plate can be as little as 3 weeks.  Yep.  21 days.  So if you buy a packet of salad leaf seeds – LESS THAN THE COST OF ONE BAG of salad leaves, and if you plant one or two a week to spread it out, then you’ll get the equivalent of 24 bags of salad from that ONE bag of seeds.  So go on, buy those salad leaf seeds now!

And tomatoes. Yes.  One tomato seed grows a plant from which you can harvest 40 to 70 fruits.  Each tomato seed packet costs about 75p and contains 10 seeds.  It won’t be so much how can you make your tomatoes go round, more what else can you eat tomatoes with!!  Get a head start with a tomato plant here.

Grow Your Own Herbs

I used to think it would be amazing to work on one of the cooking programs, all the fresh herbs that they use in cooking, as I’d look at the cost of them in the shops and immediately turn to dried herbs.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with dried herbs, fresh herbs add such a zing to dishes.  And sprinkling dried coriander on my favourite Indian meals just isn’t the same!

For the cost of a packet of seeds, you can grow hundreds of herb plants.  Rosemary grows really well from cuttings (so find a friend who’s got a plant!)  Sow your own basil seeds in April and you’ll be harvesting in July.  It’s also easy to take cuttings from Basil plants and propagate MORE basil plants (cue awesome birthday and Christmas gift!).  Check out our Herb Garden Starter kit ideas here.

Let’s look at a cost comparison.  We’re assuming that you buy a live basil plant, say 10 times a year from a supermarket.  That’s about £2.  So a cost of £20 a year.  Buy a packet of basil seeds (you can get about 200 of them for about 50p).  Pop a couple of the basil seeds into a pot, with some compost.  Two plants that you grow yourself should keep you going for a year.  The rest of the seeds will keep for about 4 years.  Grow your own cost for a year?  Including compost?  About £1.  Go on get started growing herbs now!  It’s seriously easy.

Be Frugal in Your Veggie Growing Investments

You don’t need to spend a fortune on gardening equipment.  You can start growing vegetables on a window sill.  Let’s start small, make it work, and then grow some more.  You can start growing your own vegetables with any container – even an old washing up bowl.

All you really need to start growing your own vegetables is

Quick and Cheap Vegetable Cuttings and Seeds

Obviously, that’s REALLY simplifying things, but well, why not?  Try asking neighbours or wandering past any local allotments and asking if anyone has any cuttings for beginner vegetable growers.  Or buy a packet of seeds for your chosen veggies – we recommend salad leaves for speed – and tomatoes for taste.  Do NOT overbuy.  One packet will do.  Don’t make our first-year rookie mistake of growing 480 tomatoes between the two of us!

If you like hints and tip, then our top tips for beginner vegetable gardeners is for you.

Cheap Containers for Growing Vegetables

Then when it comes to planting them.  If you don’t have any spare pots or containers why not look around the house and garden for what you DO have.  Go on raid the attic.  Buckets?  Old plastic containers or storage boxes?  Just remember before you fill them with compost to drill some holes for drainage.

If you’re growing potatoes, they’re SERIOUSLY easy to grow in bags. It is WAY easier than digging the garden, and its also a LOT easier to harvest potatoes that are grown in bags too!  And let’s make this endeavour as easy as possible eh?

Buy Good Compost for Great Tasting Vegetables

In our first year of our grow your own experiment we used our tiny back yard to grow vegetables in pots.  We grew potatoes in bags, beetroot in pots, onions in pots, garlic in pots, tomatoes in bags, salad leaves in grow bags and chillies on window sills.

And they ALL tasted great.  The one thing we did NOT stint on was compost.  Because it’s the prime nutrient that is going into the vegetables (although we do use tomato fertilizer too).  Now that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune, I’m just suggesting that if you’re filling your pots with soil from the garden that you at least mix some compost in with it too.  Read our guide to the best compost for growing veggies here. 

Start to Make Your Own Compost NOW!

You can start to save money on your future veggie growing by starting making your OWN compost now.  And this doesn’t need a huge corner of a garden, a massive compost heap or a huge investment.  What you need are your kitchen scraps, a shovel of soil and some shredded paper.  Chuck it all into your composter of choice (we reviewed the different types of compost bins here to make it easy for you), aerate it regularly and in a few months, you’ll have a nearly free supply of compost.  Easy!

Make It Easy On Yourself – Pick Easy Veggies to Grow

One of the easiest ways to making growing vegetables into a habit that you keep going is to pick vegetables that are easy to grow.  It’s a bit like growing ones that are fast to grow.  Unless you want to make vegetable growing into your whole life, you don’t need to be picking vegetables that need huge amounts of time and attention.  So pick easy veggies to grow.  Here are a few of the easiest veggies to grow.

  1. Salad leaves are seriously easy to grow > Buy them now
  2. Tomatoes are easy to grow – MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THEM WATERED
  3. Peas or beans are easy to grow. Peas in pots are REALLY easy to grow
  4. Potatoes are seriously easy to – especially if you grow them in bags.
  5. Onions and Garlic are easy to grow vegetables too – whether it’s in the ground or in containers.

We’ve got more on the easiest vegetables to grow in the UK here.

Grow Veggies that are SUBSTITUTES for more expensive food items

We ended up using courgettes as a superb substitute for meat and other vegetables simply because we grew so many of them.  And when it came time to harvest potatoes the same happened there as well.   We rejigged the recipes that we were cooking and ended up reducing what we were spending at the supermarket because we were eating so much of what we grew.  This significantly reduced what we spent on meat and even the dishes that we would normally use Quorn or Tofu in.  We’ve used courgette spaghetti instead of pasta, potatoes instead of chicken and the list go on!

Growing your own vegetables is a great way to eat a more sustainable diet, but it’s also a great way to reduce your food budget spend too!

Learn to Forage to Save Money on Food shopping

My absolutely favourite thing to forage is blackberries and raspberries. Cultivated ones just don’t taste the same, especially the blackberries, which I grew up knowing as brambles. And going brambling every year was a key part of my childhood, knowing that getting them home meant a bramble pie or bramble crumble.  Blackberries grow wild in so many places in the UK and they’re a GREAT replacement for desserts.  They make great jam too!  (get details of what we recommend you have in your jam making kit here) Raspberries aren’t as common in the wild, but they’re oh so sweet when you do find them.   You can also find wild garlic in many woodland areas.  This is an excellent guide to safely and responsibly foraging in the UK

Involve the Whole Family to Reduce Activity Costs

If your family includes kids of any age, then recruiting them to get involved can reduce the watering and harvesting workload.  Growing veggies can be a great family together activity too.  Perhaps everyone gets their own area or a couple of pots each and you make it into competitive vegetable gardening?  Whatever way you do it, growing vegetables is a life skill that won’t go amiss in anyone’s future life!  It definitely helped to reduce our “Going Out” budget – especially when we chose to have a bottle of wine in the garden rather than heading out to the pub!

Grow Veggies that are Easy to Store or Preserve

You’re going to want to plan for what you do with the vegetables you grow.  Spoiler, we didn’t and had to scramble (and eat a gazillion courgettes day after day until I bought a preserving kit and we started making chutneys).   Some veggies store well – chillies store well and work just as well dried as well as fresh.  (Read our Guide to Storing Chillies here!) Onions and potatoes store really well – if you do it properly.   You’re going to want to read up on the best way to preserve your harvest, depending on what you grow, if it’s likely that you’ll end up with more than you can eat.  Or find people to swap your harvest with for something else!

how to dry chillies and store them

Sell or Swap Your Excess Produce

Once you start to look for other veggie growers you’ll find that there are lots of people trying to grow their own.  Ask your neighbours, family and friends.  Try taking a walk past your local allotments.  Look in local Facebook groups, or try looking for something a little more organized.  This fabulous scheme in Yorkshire is a GREAT initiative where local growers can swap their veg for produce in-store at this farm shop!

You don’t have to swap like for like!  Maybe your neighbour has a bag of compost they can swap you for a box of vegetables?  Give it a go!

Use Your Excess Harvest to Make Gifts And Save MORE Money

Eleven years on from when we first used our home-grown vegetables as gifts for family and friends they will mention that first year.  We’d grown so many tomatoes and courgettes that we had to figure out what to do with them.  So I made chutneys and relishes, canned them all, (using jars we’d saved from other things as well as buying new ones), stuck a pretty label on them and made up hampers for Christmas!

Make presents from homegrown produce

If you don’t want to start preserving then get creative – perhaps a voucher for a veggie box once a month come harvest time.  Or a jar or two of homemade soup that can be frozen for future use.   Maybe some tomato passata.

Final Words on Our Tips on Using Your Garden to Save Money

These are just 14 tips of how you can use your garden to save money on your food (and other) bills, but there are huge benefits to making this part of your ongoing life.  What we hope is that these veggie growing tips for beginners can get you started saving money quickly and easily and that it leads you onto more savings and fun in the meantime.

We love the taste of home-grown tomatoes.  I love making a chutney, but I love seeing the look on someone’s face when they get it as a gift even more. The sweetcorn that we grew in year one, remains the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted (well ok, apart from Jalebi in India, but that’s basically entirely sugar so it doesn’t count!).  The hardest part of getting started, so go on, take the leap, but make it a small one, and see what success you can have with growing vegetables to save money – and what other benefits you get as a result!

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