Everyone talks about how much cheaper it is to put up your own food. I completely agree that it is, but don’t get me wrong, I spent a pretty penny setting myself up for a lot of preservation this year. I mainly use 3 methods to preserve food, freezing, canning and dehydrating (I’ll cover this in a future post). I spent a good deal of money to set myself up with everything I could think of. You don’t need to spend this much money to dip your toes into home preserving, but this is a summary of my approach.
The most expensive investment we made this year was our chest freezer. I spent a lot of time researching freezers. Trying to decide what size and style (upright or chest) to purchase. I also considered buying used. I ultimately decided to purchase a new freezer. I wanted the piece of mind to know that it was going to keep my food cold and if it didn’t, I’d have a warranty. We chose the Kenmore Elite 19.7 cu. ft. Chest Freezer. I’m sure this freezer is much too large for most people’s needs but I wanted a freezer that would meet my needs for years to come. My parents purchased a chest freezer 28 years ago and it still works great (they now have 3 freezers). When deciding on the freezer I knew it needed to be large enough to hold food for a future family (I hope there are children in our future ) and it needed to hold a lot of meat. I get my beef by the cow. It takes a lot of space to freeze meat in that quantity. I also wanted to be able to fill the freezer with garden veggies and fresh picked fruits. I have succeeded in that task.
This is a peek into my freezer. I bought it in May (I believe) and this is how I’ve managed to fill it since then.
When all was said and done we spent about $600 on the freezer. (We also scored the “cash for clunkers” deal because we traded in an old broken down freezer that’s been in our garage for eons!) My electric bill hasn’t really changed in any considerable way and I think this was one of the smartest purchases we’ve made.
Next up is a water bath canner. I actually received this as a hand me down ( aka- I took one of my parents extras ) I realize that not everyone has access to a canner but they are easy to find cheaply. I have found them for as little as $10, practically new at a garage sale and I’m sure that as soon as you mention that you want to get into canning, someone will pipe up and offer their old supplies. The water bath canner is usually included in everyone’s canning give aways.
My cost- $0
Average new price- $40
If you want to can low acid foods (most vegetables, soup, chili, meat) you will need a pressure canner to do so safely. I purchased my pressure canner from Amazon, with free shipping and have used it numerous times. Once you get the steps down, it is a synch to pressure can. The only downfall is that you need to spend your time hanging around the kitchen to monitor the pressure gauge.
My cost- $85 +free shipping on Amazon
Depending on how much canning you anticipate, the number of required jars will vary. I anticipate doing A LOT of canning. This was my warm up year, but I hope to do more and more in the future.
Not including the jars I’ve used so far this year. I have 5 of these rubbermaid tubs full of jars plus 1 shelf of empty jars in my cabinet still.
I am proud to say that I have only spent $38 on canning jars and have accumulated 400-500 jars of various sizes. My collection began with my parents attic. I pulled out lots of jars that just needed a bit of clean up. These jars had been in my family for generations. In this post I discussed how I cleaned up the first group of jars that I acquired. Since that time, anytime I mention jars, someone has some to give away. Its great! I did spend some money on quite a few jars from a garage sale. That is where the $38 comes from. I paid $0.25 per jar.
My cost- $38
Average price- $8-$20 per case depending on size
Next up are the canning supplies and tools.
I have found that small stores run by “plain people” (like the Mennonites) have the best lid prices. I purchased most of my stock in Lancaster, PA on a trip earlier this summer, but always pick up a few boxes when the price is ~$1.50.
Obviously you don’t need this many but I like to stock up on things if you can’t tell that yet
My price- ~$1.50/ box regular mouth higher for wide mouth
Screw Caps (Bands):
I bought a few boxes of lids with screw tops to build up my supply. A lot of my others came on the top of jars I received. A lot of people leave the bands with the jars.
My cost- ~$25
Preserving aids are not always necessary but I always keep a stock of canning salt and a bit of pectin. I find that these are hard to buy out of season so I have a small stock to use in the winter if I decide to do some winter canning. I also have an extra pressure gauge for my canner as a back up.
- Salt- ~$2
- Pressure Guage- $25
On the other side of this bin are the canning tools. The only ones I find necessary are the tongs, funnel and jar lifter. Ball sells a kit and you can also find these at garage sales very easily.
My cost- $10 for the Ball kit and $1 for a brand new kit found at a garage sale.
Totals for equipment:
- Canner- $0
- Pressure canner- $85
- Jars- $38
- Bands- $25
- Extra Pressure Gauge- $25
- Canning Tool Kit- $11
Grand Total- $773
Final Note. $773 may not seem like a savings but take into consideration that all of these costs are reusable for YEARS! Talk about green! In addition my weekly grocery bill has gone from $150 per week to $60 per week this summer therefore it only took ~8.5 weeks to make up the savings. Everything I save from here on out is truly savings. I understand that canning is not for everyone, but consider the ways it could fit into your life. The benefits might amaze you!