Updated: Feb 10, 2020
You would not consider us wealthy by many people’s standards. We have always been somewhat careful with how we spent our money. Early in marriage, I realized how much we could save by growing and canning our own food. There are some who say you cannot save money this way. Today, after 47 years of marriage, food and its storage is cheap as you will see below. We have bought more jars recently. We needed more. When you have a family of 17, it takes more jars of green beans than it did with a family of four.
I have learned to never buy canning jars new. There are too many at yard sales, on Craig’s list, and lots of our friends ask us to take the ones from their mother’s basement. There is a limit as to how much I will spend. I normally, only spend 25 cents per jar at the most. That is cheap! Rings we reuse. This brings us to the lids. We buy those in bulk from Filmore Container and store them. The cost then for a jar of green beans for us is the price of a lid. I even have jars from Mike’s mom and grandmother. They still work fine.
We save our heirloom green bean seeds. We harvest them ourselves and do not spray unless we are forced to spray with pepper/garlic juice or in desperation with Neem oil for the bean beetles. We are at this point back to the price of the lid and maybe some Neem oil. Then there is the cost of the propane for canning. I will grant you that propane is high, but not as high as canned green beans in the store. So now we have the price of a lid, pennies for propane and pennies for Neem Oil. Remember, I bought my canners long ago and have paid for my jars many times over by reusing them.
Next there is the sheer number of beans in my pint jar compared to a can of store bought green beans. If you pour the contents of my canned beans and the store brand out on the counter and compare, you will find that my glob of canned beans is much, much larger than the store bought ones.
I write this to answer the question that I have seen so many times. Can you really save money canning your own food? It depends. The up front cost is a lot. Today, years later, it is pennies. Folks often say that fertilizer costs and diesel for the tractor cost a lot. They might, but we do not till and we do not purchase fertilizer. We do have to put seeds in the ground and we put a LOT of bean seeds in the ground. This past year we planted 400 feet of white half runner beans. We did not eat them all fresh. Lots of jars are in our storage pantry.
One other thing I have learned. There are years you get a bumper crop of beans. There have been times I never wanted to look at another bean. This past year I was to the point of saying the bean beetles could just enjoy them, but we kept picking, dehydrating and canning. The next year, however, might be a year when the bean beetles win. We have had those years. Because beans keep so long, we try to can or dehydrate all that we possibly can in the good years and live off the storage in the bad years.