Home Gardens Reduce Food Costs

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If your grocery bill is rising faster than you can handle, it may be time to think green… as in a green thumb. Growing some of your own food saves money, it’s easier than you think… and you don’t need a big plot of land.

But don’t just plant any old food, look for produce that you can grow cheaper than you can buy: foods like lettuce mixes, cherry tomatoes, peas, spinach and herbs. One packet of mixed lettuce seeds costs less than $4, but generates an entire month’s worth of daily salads. However, some foods (like potatoes and onions) can be bought cheaper than you can grow them.

A home garden also allows families to pick only the food they need for the meal at hand, reducing the approximately 14% of food (about $590 worth) Americans throw out each year (according to a study from the University of Arizona).

If you’re looking for the most cost effective fruits and vegetables for your home garden, the USDA published a series of research briefs to help Americans understand Fruit and Vegetable Choices, available here.

Not sure how to start gardening? Check out your local Cooperative Extension. They act as a bridge between university research and consumers/farmers, teaching skills related to both agriculture and home economics. To find your local member of the Cooperative Extension System, check out the federal Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service Web site.

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