Photo by gardener41
Last week we took a look at the trend towards guerilla gardening, a unique way to operate a garden on a budget. Whether you want to go that route or not, planting your own foods is a great way to save money. To get the best value out of your garden you should plant the items that are most expensive in the store. But just what items are those? This article looks at ten foods and ingredients that are pricey at the store but can be grown at home for a much more affordable rate. If you eat these foods then you can definitely save yourself a bundle on groceries by doing your own home growing.
1. Saffron. If you look online for information about the most expensive spice in the world then you will come upon this item again and again. It is a terrific spice that has the potential to add a lot of flavor to your food. Flavor can actually save you money when you are cooking because we tend to need smaller portions of flavorful food than we do of bland foods – we feel satiated more quickly when there is a great taste to our meals. Saffron itself may be expensive but you can grow it at home. Saffron is commonly used to add spice to rice dishes but check out these other saffron recipes, too.
2. White Truffles. Thanks to all of those cooking shows on TV these days we have all learned about great gourmet food items that can really make our meals taste special. White truffles from Italy are a favorite gourmet item and also a quite expensive one. Although some people say that white truffles won’t grow well outside of Italy, others say that a dedicated home grower can grow these great edibles at home if they get the right soil. To grow these you do have to purchase special trees which aren’t cheap but if you will use the truffles regularly then the cost can be worth it. If you like to entertain frequently with great gourmet meals then growing white truffles at home can be a smart choice.
3. Vanilla. Now you may not be someone who wants to use exotic foods like saffron and white truffles in your regular cooking but how many people use the common ingredient vanilla? A lot of us use it and sadly most of us use cheap substitutes for the real thing. That’s because true vanilla is very pricey – but it’s well worth the cost as Market Manila explains. Your desserts can taste a whole lot better without a big cost if you grow your own vanilla beans.
4. Hop Asparagus. This unique food is said to taste like a mixture between spinach and asparagus. If you haven’t heard of it or tried it the reason is probably because it’s super expensive. The Times reported in 2009 that hop asparagus has been known to fetch around £300 per kilo (source). However, this food has a lot of really great health benefits so it would be worth it to add it to your diet. It is easy to prepare since it is best eaten lightly steamed (although you can also pickle it if you like).
5. Cardamom. Spices and herbs are often very expensive in terms of their per weight cost and one of the most expensive of these (although not quite as costly as saffron!) is cardamom. Not sure if this spice is right for your kitchen? Check out some great cardamom recipes. Then learn how to grow cardamom yourself!
6. Lettuce. This food may not seem all that expensive at the store. However the cost of buying it at the store is super, super high compared to the cost of growing it at home. MSN Money explains that you recoup your gardening investment with the very first picking of your lettuce. After that your lettuce at home is free – compared to the cost of continuing to buy it week after week at the grocery store. This is a wise grow-at-home investment!
7. Bell Peppers. Why the heck are bell peppers so expensive in the grocery store? They really aren’t that expensive to grow so there is no reason that they should be so pricey and yet they are – especially if you like the red, orange and yellow ones rather than just getting the green ones all of the time. Grow bell peppers at home to add color to your garden while saving a bundle on your food costs. They grow best in hot environments.
8. Macadamia Nuts. Nuts are a terrific food to have in your diet but most of them are expensive. Macadamia nuts are especially expensive but they are just so delicious that many of us choose to buy them anyway. If this is a food that you want to have a good supply of – and you’re willing to wait for the payoff – then it’s definitely worth it to plant a macadamia nut tree in your home garden. It will take 4-5 years before you start getting nut crops out of it but then you will have your own macadamia nuts for years to come and you will never have to pay to buy them in the store again!
9. Cilantro. Cilantro is a great herb that can spice up many of the dishes in your kitchen. If you use it frequently then you will spend a lot of money on purchasing it at the store. But that’s not necessary at all since it is easy to grow cilantro at home.
10. Coffee Beans. This is one of the more difficult grow-at-home options and it requires a financial investment. In addition to growing the coffee beans, you will also need to roast them at home in order to use them to make coffee. However, the cost can still definitely be worth it for people who drink coffee on a daily basis. Think about how much money you spend on coffee (not just on the beans you buy for home but also on all of those cups that you purchase while you are out) and you can easily see that it can be worth it to start growing your own beans at home.
These ten expensive foods can be grown at home on the cheap. If only we could grow edible gold at home too!