Part 6 in my series on Keeping a Low Grocery Budget is a little different this week. Cereal is next on my list to write about. But really, cereal’s boring. In a nutshell, if it’s not free, I don’t buy it. Most of it is sugary junk that doesn’t fill us up anyway. I can, sometimes, find sales where after coupons, catalinas, and/or rebates, the cereal is free. If the cereal isn’t toooo bad, I buy a lot. When it’s out, it’s out. I don’t buy it again until it’s free again. Right now, I have about 8 boxes of cheerios left in my cupboards. Let me tell you, my kids are really sick of cheerios. 😉 There haven’t been any good sales lately on cereal, though, so I’m not buying it!!
And that’s it, really for cereal. So, I thought I’d touch on something real, something that helps me feed my family healthy nutrients very cheaply this week: gardening!
A couple weeks ago, I got the book, The Backyard Homestead, from the local library. I LOVE it! It inspired me to try something different with my garden this year. I am notoriously a very messy gardener. I HATE weeding…I have not planned well in the past and my garden usually ends up with a good deal of unused space that goes to hip-high weeds.
I’ve always liked the idea of permanent containers. This year (once again) we thought of them too late to get them built beforehand…however, we did shape the dirt in my garden into raised beds of sorts. If it does make the gardening easier (easier weeding, less bending etc), my hubby will build me permanent raised beds this fall.
My garden was complicated this year by the fact that we sold our house and my old garden with it. We have a small acreage we are working towards building on, but we’re not living there yet. Given my track record of (not) weeding my garden when it’s right out my back door, I worried about putting it 2 miles from my current residence. That’s another reason for the raised-ish beds.
Anyway, this is what we were faced with when we first started. Our little tiller literally laughed in our faces when we fired it up get the land ready. In fact, it huffed and puffed for about a minute before it went on strike.
So we borrowed the neighbor’s skiddy. In no time, the top layer of sod was stripped away and I was left with grass free (you can’t imagine how deep and long grass roots are), rich Iowa dirt! Gotta love Iowa… 🙂
To spare you the rest of the boring details… this is what we ended up with. I have 10 raised beds containing: kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, 2 kinds of potatoes, sweet peas, green beans, and lettuce. We fenced it to keep out deer.
I also have a smaller (and messier because hubby didn’t get all the top layer of grass out of it) area that has 100 onions planted in it (I’ve never had good luck with onions so I’m not holding my breath – they were only $1), flowers, and I still have zucchini, melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers yet to plant.
We’re also working on an orchard and berry garden. I planted raspberries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, and still have grapes and strawberries to plant.
Finally, I planted a few plants in pots at my house so I can have easier access to fresh veggies at home. I planted lettuce (it’s almost ready to pick!), tomatoes, carrots, and plan to still plant some herbs. And there’s also quite a lot of rhubarb and more grapes growing in my backyard.
|One of my favorite little garden helpers!|
The bounty from my garden will not only feed us for most of the summer, it will also (hopefully) produce enough extra for me to freeze and can for eating throughout the winter. My hubby’s dad is a straight-up farmer and he planted a whole bunch of sweet corn. Traditionally, we all get together for a couple days in late summer and process corn, corn, and more corn. Then we split the bounty. It works out very well. I also can tomatoes, salsa, and pickles, make jelly, and freeze veggies.
The money I save on groceries during the summer allows me to stockpile other groceries I’ll need through the winter: oats, wheat berries, pasta, and meat. Then in the winter, I have more money available to spend on fresh produce that I can’t grow during the winter!
And that’s how gardening plays an integral part in keeping my grocery budget super low. Do you garden and process food?? I’m always looking for good ideas.