Have you noticed that the cost of groceries is skyrocketing these days? We’re worried that the cost of food is only going to increase!
We’ve been ranting about the increased cost of bacon, eggs, chicken, coffee, milk, sugar, and beef for the last few months on Outdoor Happens.
That’s why we’re excited to brainstorm 5 of the best homegrown vegetables to save you money on your grocery tab. Because we know how tough it is to feed a family these days – but growing the following homegrown vegetables can help!
Homegrown Vegetables That Save You the Most Money
If you want to grow veggies to help save some cash – these are our best recommendations!
# 1 – Zucchini
When brainstorming a list of the best homegrown vegetables that save you money – I knew the list would come down to zucchini vs. tomatoes.
But, zucchinis earned the top spot.
The reason zucchini tops this list of the most cost-effective veggies is because you can get a lot of veggies from very little work, starting with nothing but a tiny pack of zucchini seeds.
Not only do zucchini plants grow ludicrously fast, but zucchini plants keep producing throughout the summer – relentlessly.
I also find zucchinis much easier to start from seed compared to other garden favorites – especially tomatoes!
I’ve sprouted countless dozens of robust zucchini plants – all starting from tiny peat moss cups! Tomatoes, on the other hand – are much trickier to germinate indoors from scratch successfully! More on tomatoes later.
(In other words – not all homegrown vegetables that can save you cash are as easy to grow and germinate. But, zucchinis are!)
Why Growing Zucchini Saves You Money:
- Zucchini seeds sprout quickly.
- Zucchini is hardy enough to germinate indoors with little sunlight.
- Zucchini plants don’t get too leggy when you sprout them indoors. (They are thick, compact seedlings that seldom get too leggy!)
- Zucchini plants produce like crazy!
- Zucchinis also get massive and provide savory sustenance – especially compared to the little nutrients they need from the earth.
- Zucchinis aren’t picky growers. No fancy fertilizers or chemicals are required!
- There are dozens of sweet and savory recipes you can use to eat your zucchini harvest. Zucchini lasagna and zucchini bread among them!
There are other ways to eat zucchini! Try halving (or slicing) your zucchini and smothering it with thick, zesty tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.
Bake your zucchini slices at around 300 degrees for 15 minutes – or until crispy. Season with pepper and prepare to experience the full glory of your garden!
The best part is that you can plant and harvest several cycles of zucchini per year if you know your first and last frost dates.
Here’s what I mean!
I germinate and transplant my first crop of zucchini plants in May or early June. Then – I plant a second zucchini batch in mid to late July. That way, I enjoy a generous supply of zucchini that lasts well into late September!
Usually, I germinate the zucchini plants indoors for the first crop. Then, for the second zucchini cycle, I plant the seeds directly into the soil. I bury the zucchini seeds perhaps 1 or 2 inches deep.
After transplanting the seed, I water the seed immediately with warm water. I have a sneaking suspicion that zucchini seeds love warm water – especially when they’re sitting in warm, nutrient-rich, fertile soil!
Before I forget – check out this zucchini bread recipe that I found from the UMass Amherst blog. I promise that this recipe will leave you satisfied and happy!
Zucchini bread is a great way to use your excess (or damaged) zucchini!
# 2 – Tomatoes
Tomatoes are my second favorite crop that can save homesteaders and gardeners loads of cash.
Not only do indeterminate tomato plants provide an ample wealth of tomatoes throughout the growing season – but tomatoes are versatile, and there are so many delicious ways to eat them!
(Many homesteaders agree that tomatoes aren’t technically vegetables. But, some reliable sources contend that tomatoes are both veggie and fruit! Either way, tomato plants can help put tons of delicious food on your table.)
One of the major hurdles with growing tomatoes is germinating and nurturing them inside. My friends who live in New England and have colder climates say that their tomato plants get too stringy and leggy when sprouting indoors. I agree!
So – when they get around to transplanting their tomato plant outdoors, it’s so flimsy and weak that it doesn’t have much of a fighting chance!
If you add tomatoes to your garden, and if your growing season isn’t that long, look at your local plant nurseries and find baby tomato plants.
That way, you can start your tomato growing with a thick, robust, healthy tomato plant. (Or, better yet, many thick and hardy tomato plants!)
Another option you have is to try LED grow lights if you want to start your tomatoes indoors! I’m an old-fashioned grower and prefer to use the sun to nurture all of my plants.
However, one of my homesteading friends has had tremendous luck using LED grow lights. I’ve seen the results with my own eyes – and they’re impressive!
Why Growing Tomatoes Saves You Money:
- Tomatoes are one of the most versatile homegrown vegetables in your garden!
- Chuck them in salads, in soups, in sandwiches, or eat them by the handful!
- Tomato plants are easily one of the most popular plants to buy – so you have tons of choices to find thick, robust, healthy plants. Shop around and find the best deals!
- If you’re more advanced, you can also buy tomato seeds and germinate them indoors. But – make sure they get enough sunlight – you don’t want leggy tomato plants! (They won’t do well when transitioning to the great outdoors!)
You can buy small tomato plants individually or in batches of 3 or 6 for a couple of dollars per plant. These days, with the cost increasing on food – you may expect to pay a little more, maybe $5 per tomato plant or even higher!
(I just double-checked Walmart and Home Depot. It seems like the baby tomato plants go for around $5 – $7 per plant at the big box retailers these days. I still say they’re a steal if you want to get a head start on growing tomatoes!)
Even at those rates – a full-grown tomato plant produces loads of tomatoes! Enough for you, your family, and even a few friends.
Grab 3 to 6 tomato plants if you want to have many baskets stuffed with red, juicy, delicious tomatoes perfect for spaghetti sauce, garden salads, or popping right in your mouth straight from the vine.
Check your area’s first and last frost dates. Around a month before your final frost date – begin looking for tomato plants in your area.
Call your local plant nurseries and ask if they have deals on tomato plants! Also, ask if they have inventory that you can see!
# 3 – Kale
I remember one year I bought six baby kale plants and threw them in the garden. I had no idea what to expect. Were six kale plants enough? I wondered.
(I had no idea what to expect with six kale plants. I knew I munched on kale now and then and knew I loved to sauté kale with a small dash of garlic and butter over a sizzling pan.)
Later into the growing season, I realized that six kale plants were too many. Way too many!
Every day I would take a sharp knife and slice a few leaves off of the kale plant. That way, I could throw the fresh kale into a garden salad or a turkey and cheese sandwich.
To my surprise – the kale plants wouldn’t stop growing. They wouldn’t die. They kept replenishing and growing more kale!
These kale plants? Nothing could stop them!
One wild thing I learned about kale – is that they don’t stop growing if you harvest the leaves correctly.
The kale plant continually adds new leaves at the top of the plant. The older leaves at the bottom of the plant are perfect for harvesting.
Harvest the lower leaves first – and save the newer leaves atop the kale plant for later! Your kale plant will produce for much longer than you think, I bet!
Why Growing Kale Saves You Money:
- One of the easiest homegrown vegetables to grow. For sure!
- Kale plants are very cheap – and easy to start.
- One kale plant produces a ton of kale chips, side dishes, salads, or pizza toppings!
- Kales are a hardy cabbage-relative that’s tough to kill! (These kale plants belong in a horror flick. They’re unstoppable!)
- Kale also has a reputation for surviving tremendously cold temperatures – and frost.
Kale is also a beautiful-looking plant, and some varieties produce majestic-purple-looking foliage.
I don’t think kale plants will replace your heavy-hitting producers like your tomato and zucchini plants!
However, if you add a few kale plants to your garden, I guarantee you’ll enjoy a sufficient wealth of delicious and savory greens that last for longer than you think!
(And, if you wanted – you could throw together a mini food forest of kale and have more roughage than your homestead could handle. No doubt!)
# 4 – Cucumbers
Cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes are probably three of the most critical “survival crops” I would choose if I were trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. (Lol.)
I think tomatoes are the top crop to grow – but cucumbers have a tremendous advantage over tomatoes. Cucumbers are much easier to germinate indoors!
(I find that starting some homegrown vegetables – like tomatoes – is challenging because the plants get too tall, leggy, and spindly. I rarely experience the same problem with cucumber plants – they’re shorter and stouter.)
Cucumber Watering Tip that Saves Money
Also! If you decide to grow cucumbers, here’s a critical tip that can save you money when watering your cucumber plants later on in the season.
Mark off where you transplant your cucumber vine with a bright orange flag or garden stake!
(You can use a garden stake, an orange garden flag – or anything to mark the location of your cucumber’s root system and main stem.)
Mark your cucumber roots immediately after transplanting your seedlings (or seeds) – that way, later on, you can easily recognize where to water your cucumber plant!
Otherwise, when your cucumbers grow and stretch out all over the place – it’s nearly impossible to locate the cucumber roots when you need to water them – as a result, it’s easy to waste a ton of water!
(I’ve wasted countless gallons of water watering cucumber plants when I couldn’t locate the plant’s root system! Finding the main stem is trickier than you think if you have several cucumber vines sprawling along your garden’s floor!)
Why Growing Cucumbers Saves You Money:
- Your healthy cucumber vine produces many pounds of cucumbers throughout the season!
- Cucumber seeds are easy to germinate indoors.
- Cucumber plants are straightforward to manage once you transplant them outside.
- Cucumber seeds are also easy to plant directly in your garden – sow cucumber seeds around 1 to 2 inches deep.
- They’re also of the best ways to bulk up any lunch.
- Effortlessly upgrade sandwiches, salads, and snacktime!
- Mark the main stem with a flag or stake when you plant your cucumber to save money on watering costs.
One of the only downsides of growing cucumbers is that they have a knack for strangling other plants and vegetables with their tendrils!
(Some cucumber varieties are excellent climbers. If they don’t have something to climb – they grab anything!)
If you grow cucumbers next to other homegrown vegetables – keep an eye on them because they don’t play nice with others! It’s true. Cucumbers are troublemakers!
In a perfect world, give your cucumber plant at least 6 to 12 feet of free space and let them roam freely. You can also sow a climbing cucumber variety to save some precious garden bed real estate.
(And, climbing cucumber varieties can create a marvelous wall if you provide the appropriate trellis or support system!)
# 5 – Peppers
Peppers are one of the most underrated homegrown vegetables – especially if you want to save a few bucks.
Peppers are one of the easiest homegrown vegetables to nurture, and they’re also one of the most satisfying to harvest!
Usually, my pepper plants last until the end of the season (late October), and they’re one of the last plants to survive.
So, when I’m sad that the growing season has come and gone – the big fat juicy peppers remaining on my pepper plants give me one last chance to savor the summer.
Another thing I love about growing peppers is that tiny pepper plants develop a surprising amount of peppers.
At the end of the summer, I’m usually stuffing an overflowing basket with plump green peppers from a small handful of pepper plants!
Why Growing Peppers Saves You Money:
- Peppers are arguably easier to grow than any other homegrown vegetable on this list.
- Peppers take up hardly any room in your garden.
- Peppers go together with tomatoes flawlessly in just about any dish.
- Instantly enhance and bulk up soups, salads, sandwiches – and more.
- Peppers are also the perfect way to upgrade scrambled eggs!
- Peppers add flavor to any savory dish.
One thing I’ve noticed growing peppers in New England is that peppers are hardier than other plants!
They are usually one of the last garden plants to survive – if not, the very last to survive!
Peppers seem to thrive up until the frost kills them. Come the late harvest in October – I always find at least a dozen ripe green peppers ready for picking!
(Perfect for chopping, dicing, drizzling in olive oil – and frying with some fresh zucchini and tomato slices!)
5 Homegrown Vegetables that Save You Money!
I once asked my homesteading friend, “What if you were stranded in the middle of nowhere and could only grow FIVE veggies to sustain yourself. Which five homegrown vegetables would you choose?”
That’s the one question we kept in mind as we brainstormed the most cost-effective veggies that save you money.
We wanted to help your homestead and garden thrive even if the cost of food continues to spiral out of control.
We also ask that you share your experience!
We know that many of our readers love gardening and have genius ideas for saving money.
Please help us!
Share your best cash-saving tips! Money is tight these days for homesteaders all around the world.
Your ideas might make someone’s day!
Thank you so much for reading!
Read More – How to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget!
PS: – Supplement Your Homegrown Vegetables with Homegrown Fruit!
If you want to save some cash by growing various homegrown vegetables – you might want to consider growing fruit trees as well.
I love apple trees the most!
Not only are apples delicious directly from the tree – but you can use spare apples for pies, applesauce, apple butter, apple muffins, apple bread, apple cake, and more!
If you’re not sure which apples to consider, here are some of the most popular (and delicious) varieties.
Best Apple Trees to Grow:
- Gala Apple Tree
- McIntosh Apple Tree
- Pink Lady Apple Tree
- Granny Smith Apple Tree
- Honeycrisp Apple Tree
- Golden Delicious Apple Tree
I think that McIntosh apples are the most delicious! But, I think that Golden Delicious are the best for cooking.
Benefits of Apple Trees:
- Save tons of money on food!
- Inexpensive to buy online.
- Never pay for an apple ever again.
- Apple trees provide food for the local habitat.
- They are also fun to watch grow and mature!
- Apples are also tremendously healthy!
Not only can apple trees produce many hundreds of pounds of apples per year – but they’re also ludicrously inexpensive!
But – one downside is that apples take a few years for them to mature and begin producing.
However, if you start planting a handful of apple trees on your homestead today, you’ll hopefully reap the rewards years from now.
Also – imagine all of the apples you could share with friends, family, neighbors, fellow homesteaders, et cetera!
Thanks again for reading!