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Lots of people complain about the cost of living (I’m one of them) but many don’t do much about it (I’m not one of them).

The media says that grocery prices have actually reduced over the past 12 months or so; however, I don’t see much evidence to back this claim up. And, the media would say that wouldn’t they because a big chunk of their wages gets paid via advertising revenue from major supermarket chains.

But, my calibrated eye for prices tells me a different story and I can see beyond the drop in staples like bread and milk knowing full well the major supermarkets are making up for their losses by increasing the prices on other goods.

Avocado prices are a good litmus test for me because it’s currently one of the few fruits I haven’t grown successfully (but I’m working on it). For now though, if we want an avocado we must buy it and the prices here in Australia for avocadoes are ridiculous!

Just a few years ago, I used to think $1 for an avocado was expensive, however, paying $2.50 or even $3.00 today is hysterical – pretty soon, if you don’t own your own avocado tree most people will only be able to look and wonder what an avocado used to taste like. Actually, for many people, buying good healthy food has become out of reach already and something only the well-to-do can afford.

Did you know food theft across Australia is on the increase? That’s sad… People shouldn’t feel the need to steal food - it reminds me of the old English days during the great depression. No wonder people are confused… They get constant lectures from health organisations and governments to eat better whilst at the same time those typically healthy foods are insanely expensive!

I must admit, I do like to strongly encourage people to eat healthy and I wish it was easy to grow anything we desired then we could give the double finger salute to those steep fresh food prices we see in the shops. Unfortunately, there are certain fresh food products which are healthy, tasty, and not the easiest to grow at home... Consequently, they’re in high demand and this makes them the perfect item to cash in on so they bump the prices up.    

Anyway, so we can’t grow everything (I’ll get over it) BUT we can all grow something! And, that’s what this post is about – saving money through even the smallest steps.

I may not be able to grow avocadoes… yet, and that really does pain me; however, I can grow lettuce, tomatoes, and lots of other produce. Therefore, if I want a nice fresh avocado salad or sandwich, I can offset the cost of an avocado by the savings I make growing some salad greens and a few tomatoes.

Food self-sufficiency isn’t always about growing everything – it’s not all or nothing – it’s about growing something or anything you can and being self-sufficient in something at least. Growing the smallest amount of food makes a big difference to the money you can save and it also aids seriously to better health.

Having a big vegetable garden and orchard might be awesome; nevertheless, it’s not necessary to have plenty of land in order to benefit from growing your own produce. Some of the most productive food gardeners I know live in townhouses and small suburban blocks!            

So thinking about my avocado example, can using just one item from your garden per meal make much of a difference? I think it does!

Let’s explore this notion further. Say you are making scrambled eggs for breakfast and you’d like to freshen it up with a little chopped parsley. Buying a bunch of parsley fresh at the supermarket will cost a few dollars, instead, you pick a sprig from your garden and there’s 2 bucks saved plus the rest of the bunch isn’t wilting in the crisper only to be wasted. 

For lunch, you crave a ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich. You don’t usually purchase one tomato at the shop so you end up buying 4 vine ripened ones @ $4.00, which equals $1.00 per tomato (as long as those other tomatoes are eaten otherwise it costs more).  But instead, you go outside and select a tomato from your garden. So far, we’ve saved $3.00 (at least).  

Dinner usually consists of a protein and some vegetables. Why not, substitute one of the purchased vegetables with some home grown snap peas, which are easy to grow but expensive to buy. Snap peas for one meal saves about $1.00 and straight from the plant they’re amazingly tasty – we’re up to $4.00 in savings.

Let’s say, you indulge in dessert and have ice-cream with strawberries. Instead of buying a punnet for $2.50 you grow your own because strawberries are a cinch to produce and will practically grow in an old boot. Conservatively, there’s another $1.00 saved bringing the grand total of savings in a day to $5.00.

Multiply this savings by 365 days in a year and we have a tidy sum of $1825 you could save by simply substituting one food item per meal with something from your own garden! You could go on a two week cruise for that much money (or pay the electricity bills).

In conclusion, it certainly does pay to grow what you can even if you think it’s not much if you do the sums by the end of the year you’ll have saved a lot of cash!

Tonight, I’m making corn chips nachos with guacamole and salad. The two avocadoes for my dinner cost me top dollar but I’m offsetting that cost by using fresh salad and tomatoes from my garden. Although, I’m not overly happy with buying avocados (one day I will grow my own… whoaaarrr – evil laugh) I do feel better knowing I’ve mitigated the cost by using something from my garden.   

Corn chips nachos with guacamole yogurt salsa and salad (image above)

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Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…

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Comments (8)

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Hi Yuri,

thanks for your input :smile:

Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
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Hi Mark, I currently grow most of my own food, we grow all of our own meat and eggs and as much fruit and vegetables as I have time for. I have bred some of my own varieties of vegetables which suit my purposes/climate better than the varieties...

Hi Mark, I currently grow most of my own food, we grow all of our own meat and eggs and as much fruit and vegetables as I have time for. I have bred some of my own varieties of vegetables which suit my purposes/climate better than the varieties I can buy.

Needless to say I am all for growing your own food and I can prove that it saves a lot of money, but I think your calculations are a little dodgy. There is no way I would ever spend $4 for 4 tomatoes, I would buy the cheaper ones. I grow snap peas because I like to eat them but would never buy them, they are far too expensive. In fact I grow and eat many things that I would never be able to afford.

You also seemed to have conveniently ignored the start up costs. Buying seeds is a once off investment as it is simple to save seeds from many vegetables, but it does lower the saving during the first year. Don't get me wrong, you still save money, but just a little less during the first year.

If you used the cheaper prices, the ones people are likely to actually pay, and include the once off costs such as seed purchase, you can still easily prove how profitable growing food can be. I don't see the need to inflate things as the reality is that it is not difficult to save a lot of money by growing very little.

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Great Idea Jacinta! 50 cent avocados is awesome!

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Hi! I realise this is an old post, but if anyone Western Australia based is interested there is an organic avocado farm out Kalamunda way. There is an ad for it on gumtree.com.au You pick them yourself and they are $4/kg. We got around 8kg and it...

Hi! I realise this is an old post, but if anyone Western Australia based is interested there is an organic avocado farm out Kalamunda way. There is an ad for it on gumtree.com.au You pick them yourself and they are $4/kg. We got around 8kg and it worked out less than .50c an avocado! Great day out if you pack a picnic to have at one of the parks in Kalamunda town =)

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Hi Brad, thanks for your growing tips! Input from people like you on SSM is very welcome! Cheers and have a great Xmas

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add a few wild dandylion leaves. bee balm (great flavor) cilantro, basil etc.... all easy to grow, and lots of flavor. i grow chard, mustard and kale great in stir-fry adding the basil, cilantro etc... all help

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Hi Kate, very true! Larger tomatoes are a bit of a challenge but the best time to grow them around here is winter and early spring - should net them from fruit fly towards end of winter otherwise they'll get hit. Thanks for commenting

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Hi Mark, I've been able to grow avocadoes fine, cherry tomatoes but larger tomatoes I haven't had much sucess with yet. I'll have to read all your posts on the subject. Funny how we can grow some things well but other items can elude us. Of...

Hi Mark, I've been able to grow avocadoes fine, cherry tomatoes but larger tomatoes I haven't had much sucess with yet. I'll have to read all your posts on the subject. Funny how we can grow some things well but other items can elude us. Of course the cost of setting up the garden/veggies also needs to be taken into consideration. Buying soil for veggies isn't cheap when first setting up. I do think the rewards are worth it though. It's a real buzz when you get to eat a sandwich with some of the produce you have grown on it junk food seems to get cheaper and good produce more expensive, a lot of people don't have much of a backyard to grow their own veggies these days.

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