Tag Archive for Gardening

5 Food Preservation Methods That Save Money

food preservation

food preservationWith summer produce season coming to a close, and with a hint of pumpkin spice in the air, it means it?s time to put up your produce and prepare for the winter.

Preserving food has been around since humans could hunt. Back then, meat products were the main preserved food type and people had to get creative with how they preserved food due to no modern refrigeration.?Traditional methods of salting and drying meat products are still used today, although they have been modernized somewhat.

Food preservation seems to be a popular activity again today as people are starting to take a greater interest in procuring and preserving their own food. Not only does growing and preserving your own food make you feel good about providing for yourself, it can save you money as well. Here are five food preservation methods you can use to save money and make your food last longer.

Freezer Meals

Though these are only preserved as long as your freezer is plugged in, they are a great way to save on meals. By buying meat and produce in bulk when it’s on sale and in season, you can save money and create a bunch of freezer meals.

Spending one afternoon to put together meals and freeze batches, you’ll save time shopping, planning meals and cooking later on. Plus if you grow your own produce, you can use it in your freezer meals and make it last longer.

Drying Food

It’s not hard to make dried food and it’s not just limited to things like jerky. Dried fruit and fruit leathers are a great way to use up extra produce. Plus they are a?tasty and healthy snack!

You can [easyazon_link keywords=”food dehydrator” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]purchase a decent dehydrator[/easyazon_link] for a fairly low price, or you can use your oven. Buying dried fruit and jerky is expensive per pound. By doing it yourself you can save money and control every ingredient that goes into it.


Canning is a method of putting produce or meat into a jar and killing bacteria through either a water bath or pressure. If you cook at home a lot, stocking up on the basics like tomatoes, salsa and vegetables can get expensive. Growing your own has some costs up front, but can save you money in the long run.

Be sure to follow directions and don?t eat anything, especially meat, that didn?t seal in the process. Botulinum toxin is not something to mess around with.


Though more popular in Asian cuisine, this way of preserving food is making its rounds. Pickles are one of the most popular fermented foods. Fermenting doesn?t have to be a large, time consuming project. Fermentation?could be as quick as making some refrigerator pickles. If you like your food pickled, this is another way to save you money by stocking up on items in your pantry.

Home Brew

Brewing your own beer, wine, cider and more, is a great way to save money on buying alcohol. But this can become an expensive process. You can [easyazon_link keywords=”homebrew kit” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]start off with a kit with the basic necessities[/easyazon_link], or you can expand and grow your home brew into a rather large (and expensive) process.

As with anything, if you get bitten by the preserving bug, it can become an expensive hobby. But if you can find gently used equipment for sale or?borrow and share with your friends, preserving food can be a fun and money saving hobby.


Do you use any of these food preservation methods? Have you saved any money with any of these tactics?


Photo courtesy of: condesign

How to Freeze Garden Vegetables

freeze garden vegetables

4663933277_84c3f2b545_zWhen we first started gardening years ago, I was terrified of learning how to freeze garden vegetables. I can’t tell you exactly why, but once I learned, I realized that freezing garden vegetables is really quite simple. Harvest time is here in many parts of the country, so I figure now’s the perfect time to talk about the ease of learning to freeze garden vegetables.

How to Freeze Garden Vegetables

1. Determine what you will freeze.? Some vegetables are great for freezing, some aren’t.? We’ve successfully frozen carrots, green peppers, onions, green beans and peas. Tomatoes can also be frozen, and zucchini freezes well if you shred it first and skip the blanching process, using them for soups or zucchini breads.? Potatoes reportedly freeze well, but I’ve not tried this personally.

2.? Learn what’s involved with the blanching process.? Just the words “blanch your vegetables” used to send panic through my bones, but really, it’s quite simple. [easyazon_link asin=”0470906022″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”wisedollar-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]Any quality basic cookbook[/easyazon_link]?will have instructions on freezing vegetables, and along with freezing most vegetables comings blanching them. Blanching vegetables is a simple process of placing your raw veggies in boiling water for a few minutes, followed by placing them in ice water for the same amount of time. With green beans, for instance, you’ll place them in boiling water for three minutes, then transfer them to ice water for three more minutes. A pot with an immersible metal basket works best for this process, but we simply drain the pot with the vegetable after the three minutes and dump them into the ice water.? No need to get fancy if you don’t want to.

3.? Determine how you will store your vegetables.? We have a [easyazon_link asin=”B0044XDA3S” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”wisedollar-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]Food Saver Vacuum System[/easyazon_link].? The heavy duty freezer bags are vacuum-packed and then sealed by our Food Saver, making the process simple for us and extending storage time in our deep freezer. A deep freezer or zero-degree freezer is best for long-term storage of frozen vegetables, helping them last up to a year. It was July when we finished our last package of frozen green beans from last gardening season and they still tasted fresh and delicious.

4.? Wash Your Veggies Thoroughly.? No need to use a vegetable soap if you haven’t added pesticides to your garden – just give them a good, hard rinse.

5.? Trim ends and chop where needed.? Determine what uses you’ll use your vegetables for and chop to the appropriate size. For instance, we chopped our carrots into thin slices so they’d be ready to use for soups and stews.

6.? Blanch as instructed.? Your basic cookbook should have blanching times and freezing instructions for vegetables.? If not, get another cookbook.

7.? Pat the veggies dry.? Using a clean kitchen towel, get as much moisture out of the vegetables as possible by patting them dry. They’ll seal better this way and you also reduce your chances of freezer burn.

8.? Place them in a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, then seal tightly.? This is where an item like a Food Saver Vacuum System comes in really handy. It does the grunt work of eliminating air from the freezer bag and sealing the bag shut for you. If you don’t have some type of vacuum system, place your veggies in a freezer bag that is appropriate in size for the amount of veggies you’re freezing (leave as little extra space as possible) and seal tight.

9.? Place sealed bag in your freezer as soon as possible.?Pretty self-explanatory I think. 🙂

10.? Enjoy at your leisure! ?

If you’re willing to learn how to freeze your garden vegetables, you can get the most out of your home garden and save tons of money in the process. What’s more, you can’t beat the taste of home grown vegetables.


Have you ever frozen your garden vegetables before? What questions do you have about freezing garden vegetables?



Photo courtesy of:?Coanri/Rita

4 Tips for the Most Productive Vegetable Garden

most productive vegetable garden

most productive vegetable gardenFollowing up on my post last time on money saving tips for your garden, today we’re going to talk about how to get the most productive vegetable garden.? Gardening doesn’t do much good if it produces no yield.? Here are some tips that can help you get the most ROI (return on investment) out of your vegetable garden.

The Most Productive Vegetable Garden Requires Care

In the past, we’ve been pretty consistent about planting our garden, having that “new garden excitement”, and then, in about four weeks or so, the excitement wears off, and we start neglecting our garden, letting weeds grow, not watering, etc.? Since we’ve moved from the suburbs to the farm, though, we’ve got a whole different goal in mind for our garden.? It’s not just a neat little activity anymore: our goal is to provide our family of six vegetables for the entire year.

In order to make this work, we have to be committed to caring properly for our garden, and if you want to have the most productive vegetable garden you can, you have to be committed to caring for it properly too.

Water it regularly, making sure that the soil doesn’t get real dry.? Remove weeds often, as they choke out garden vegetable plants and can kill them off if left to run rampant.? Keep your garden safe from critters by putting up a fence, using other “fear tactics” like planting marigolds on the border of your garden or sprinkling blood meal throughout your garden, or?[easyazon_link asin=”B004CZA4IM” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”wisedollar-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]setting up pinwheels[/easyazon_link]?(reader tip: those shiny, spinning pin wheels you played with as a kid?? Most rabbits are terrified of them!) around the plants rabbits and other critters wander toward most often.

Plant What You Love

If your family eats green beans like they’re going out of style, plant an abundance of green beans.? If broccoli is the household favorite, load up on broccoli.? Pick the four or five most bought/eaten plants in your household, and load up big time.? In our case, we love salads, so there’s lots of lettuce growing around our property, both in the garden, and in pots here and there.? By planning your garden around which vegetables you eat the most, you can maximize garden yields and save a ton of cash in the process.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Food Preservation

The most productive vegetable garden in the world will be pointless if you throw away a large percentage of what you’ve grown.? Make it a point to learn all that you can about food preservation, especially on the products you eat most.? We love pickles and salsa at our house, and used to buy lots of both of them at the stores.? However, now that we’ve learned to can both pickles and salsa, we no longer need to buy them at the store.? Bonus?? The home-canned stuff, once you’ve perfected your recipe, tastes MUCH better than store bought.

The same rules can apply to freezing vegetables.? Blanching and freezing is a pretty simple and quick process once you’ve learned the techniques, and now that we know how to do it (any basic comprehensive cookbook will show you how to freeze and can food), we stock our [easyazon_link cloaking=”no” keywords=”chest freezer” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”wisedollar-20″]chest freezer[/easyazon_link]?with an abundant supply of green beans, peas, green peppers, onions and carrots.?? Even last year, when we didn’t care for our garden nearly as well as we should have, we stocked up a good couple of months’ worth of each of the vegetables listed above by blanching them and vacuum sealing them.? This year we’re planning on freezing ten-fold what we froze last year.

Tag Team Your Efforts

Don’t have an abundance of space or time for a garden?? Pick one or two of your favorite vegetables, and have a friend/family member pick two others.? Tend to them well, and then when harvest time comes, you can work together to preserve your bounty, and split the proceeds.? Vegetable gardening is always more fun with a friend or family member to share the experience with.

Having the most productive vegetable garden you can doesn’t have to involve a plethora of work.? By following the gardening tips above, and doing a little bit each day to care well for your garden, and manage your harvest too, you can reap a great harvest for your efforts.


What have you found that helps you have the most productive vegetable garden? What do you do in order to keep pests out of your garden?


Photo courtesy of:?Free Digital Photos

Four Money Saving Tips for Your Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable GardenNow that the growing season is upon us, you might want to consider a vegetable garden as part of your money saving plan.? Even if you have minimal space to grow in, or have very little experience in gardening, there are ways that you can use vegetable planting to save your household a good bit of cash. Consider the money saving gardening tips?below:

Use Your Vegetable Garden to Plant What You Love

Are you a big salad eater?? Plant a different variety or two of lettuce (in some pots if you don’t have much garden space) and have lettuce at your fingertips anytime the craving for a great salad hits.? Lettuce is fast-growing and can handle colder weather, so it’s a great choice for a vegetable garden in nearly any climate.

Do you love tomatoes?? Plant enough to have them fresh through the growing season and to can and freeze for later.? Are you limited on space?? Buy a hanging tomato plant or a simple pot with Roma Tomatoes to have in your yard or on your deck.? Roma tomatoes produce in abundance too, so even one plant can give you enough to can or freeze a substantial amount of tomatoes.

Keep it Simple, Sweetie

If you’re in an apartment or condo that doesn’t have a yard, consider starting with herbs.? A nice little pot of your favorite herb, such as Basil or Sage will fit nicely on a small table or window sill and provide you with fresh herbs all year around if properly cared for, saving you cash as the herbs purchased in grocery stores are generally quite expensive.

If you’ve got a small yard or patio, pick your favorite, most-consumed 3-5 plants for your vegetable garden, keeping space to a minimum.? If you have the space for a big garden, make sure that you’re not wasting money by planting certain veggies “just because”.? Plant only what you know you’ll eat.

Grow Up

No, not you: your garden! 🙂 Have pea or green bean vines grow up lattice on the side of the house, or [easyazon_link asin=”B009W8Z6JQ” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”wisedollar-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]upside-down hanging tomato baskets[/easyazon_link]?to hang on your deck.? Not only will this save you space, it will save your garden from rabbits and other roaming creatures, thereby increasing your bounty and saving money in the process.

Think Long-Term

When planting your vegetable garden, think long-term.? You might not have a lot of freezer space for freezing beans or peas, but maybe you could can salsa instead.? A couple of healthy Roma Tomato plants and a nice Green Pepper or Jalapeno plant or two, along with some onion plants, will give you enough yield? for several jars of salsa or Bruschetta, both of which are fairly easy to can with a hot-water bath canner.

Pick the vegetables you love the most, and plant an abundance of them where you have space, making sure to can or freeze them when they’re ready to go.? Then, instead of buying salsa or pickles, you can grab some healthy and delicious homemade ones out of your pantry.? Your pocket book and your health with thank you.

Growing and preserving your own food from your vegetable garden can seem intimidating when you first start out, but by following the money saving tips above, you can cash in on some serious cash and grow your way to good health all at the same time.


What are your favorite money saving tips for your vegetable garden?? If you had to pick just one veggie to grow, which one would it be?


Photo courtesy of: Jay Bay