Does canning save money? It’s a burning question that’s been on the minds of thrifty individuals and budget-conscious families for ages. And hey, we get it – who doesn’t want to save a few bucks here and there? But don’t worry, for we are here to dive deep into the nitty-gritty of this age-old practice and uncover all the juicy details.
The answer is a resounding yes, canning can save money in the long run, especially if you grow your own produce or buy in bulk when fruits and vegetables are in season and prices are lower.
By preserving food through canning, you can reduce food waste and control what goes into your food, avoiding the often higher costs of commercially canned goods or out-of-season produce.
However, initial costs for canning supplies like jars, lids, and a water bath canner might be significant. Over time, with repeated use, these expenses can be offset by the savings from preserved food.
What is Canning?
Canning is a method of food preservation in which food is processed and sealed in an airtight container, such as jars like Mason jars, and steel and tin cans. The process provides a shelf life that typically ranges from one to five years, although under specific circumstances, it can be much longer. For example, freeze-dried canned foods, such as canned dried lentils, can last for up to 30 years without spoiling.
A 1997 investigation discovered that tinned fruits and vegetables are equally abundant in dietary fiber and vitamins compared to the corresponding fresh or icy foods, and in certain instances, the tinned items are more abundant than their fresh or icy equivalents.
Price Comparison of Home-Canned Food to Store Bought
Given below are some of the cost comparisons between home-canned food and store-bought canned food:
Comparison of Initial Equipment Costs
The upfront investment for home canning includes the purchase of jars and lids. A canning jar typically costs about $0.75, but its reusable nature means that over time, the cost per use decreases to approximately $0.05. The lids, on the other hand, are priced at about $0.16 each. However, if you opt for Tattler lids, which are reusable, the cost per lid can be reduced to $0.15 over a 5-year period or $0.07 over a 10-year period.
Comparison of Produce Costs
The cost of produce for home canning can vary significantly depending on whether you grow your own or purchase it. If you cultivate your own produce, the cost can be as low as $0.25 per jar. On the other hand, if you buy the produce, the cost can fluctuate but is typically less than $2.00 per jar of the final product.
Comparison of Time Investment
While home canning does require an investment of time, it’s important to consider this in the context of long-term savings. Home canning can be viewed as a form of batch cooking, which, although time-consuming initially, can save significant time in the long run.
Comparison of Health Costs
Home canning offers the advantage of controlling the ingredients that go into your food. This can lead to health benefits which, while not directly quantifiable in monetary terms, can potentially result in long-term healthcare savings.
Comparison of Long-Term Costs
The long-term costs of home canning can be significantly lower than store-bought canned food. For instance, a jar of organic tomato sauce can cost upwards of $4 in the store, while the cost of home-canned tomato sauce, even when factoring in the cost of produce and canning supplies, can be considerably less. This demonstrates the potential savings that can be achieved through home canning over time.
Price Comparison Table – Home-Canned Food Vs. Store Bought
|Average Cost of Home-Canned (per pint)
|Average Cost of Store-Bought (per pint)
|Chicken (Pressure canned)
Note that these prices can fluctuate based on region, time of year, and whether the food is organic or not. The prices also reflect the cost of home canning including the initial purchase of jars and lids, a canner, and other supplies.
Can Home Canning Really Save You Money?
Economically, home canning may not save you much money. The cost of the equipment needed for canning, combined with the time required, means that you would have to process and preserve an immensely large quantity of food to make it worth your while financially. Even then, the savings would be marginal compared to just buying most canned food from the store.
A 12-pack of 16oz Ball-brand mason jars will run you anywhere from $11 to $13 on average. Your pressure canner machine will set you back anywhere from $130 to $350 depending on brand, features, and options. Upfront, you are looking at about $175 let’s say, on the low side, to get started if you are buying new. That will buy you a lot of canned veggies.
Home canning is a time-consuming process. From start to finish, the process of canning your own food can take days or even weeks depending on what you’re preserving and how much of it you have. This time investment might not be worth it for everyone.
Despite the economic and time considerations, home canning offers something that money cannot really buy: genuinely greater self-sufficiency. Being able to take what you grow and turn it into a stored product that will last for years is an empowering feeling.
One of the most common reasons for at-home canning is to produce a stash of food that can be called on in times of emergency or scarcity. However, if all you care about is having the resources on hand as safely, quickly, and easily accessible as possible, store-bought canned goods will win almost every time.
All in all, while home canning might not save you money or time in the short term, it can provide a sense of self-sufficiency and could be a valuable skill in times of scarcity or emergency. The decision to can at home should be based on your personal circumstances, needs, and goals.
Does Home Canning Save Time?
Home canning can be a time-consuming process, especially when you’re just getting started. The process involves preparing the food, sterilizing the jars and lids, filling the jars with food, sealing them, and then processing them in a water bath or pressure canner. This can take several hours, depending on the quantity and type of food you’re canning.
However, while the initial process may be time-consuming, it can save time in the long run. Once the food is canned, it can be stored for a long time (often years), and it’s ready to eat whenever you need it. This can save you time on meal preparation in the future, as you won’t need to cook the food from scratch.
For example, if you spend a weekend canning a large batch of tomato sauce, you’ll have a ready supply of sauce for quick pasta dinners, saving you the time it would take to make sauce from scratch each time.
So, while home canning may not save time in the immediate sense, it can be a time-saver in the long term. It’s also worth noting that many people find the process of home canning to be a rewarding hobby, and enjoy the time spent preparing and preserving their own food.
Tips for Saving Money When Canning
Canning is a great way to preserve food and save money, but it can also be costly if not done properly. Here are some tips to help you save money when canning:
Buy in Bulk: Buying fruits and vegetables in bulk during their peak season can save you a lot of money. You can often negotiate a lower price with farmers if you buy large quantities.
Grow Your Own: If you have the space, consider growing your own fruits and vegetables. This can be a fun and rewarding way to save money.
Reuse Canning Jars and Bands: Canning jars and bands can be reused many times, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. However, lids should be replaced after each use to ensure a proper seal.
Use the Right Size Jars: Using the right size jars for what you’re canning can save you money. For example, use smaller jars for expensive items like spices and larger jars for cheaper items like tomatoes.
Preserve What You’ll Eat: It’s a waste of time and money to preserve food that you or your family won’t eat. Make sure to can foods that you know will be eaten.
Learn Proper Canning Techniques: Improper canning can lead to spoiled food, which is a waste of money. Make sure to learn the proper techniques for canning to ensure that your food is preserved correctly.
Share the Costs: If you have friends or family members who are also interested in canning, consider sharing the costs of supplies. You could also host a canning party where everyone brings their own supplies and you all can together.
Take Advantage of Sales and Discounts: Keep an eye out for sales and discounts on canning supplies. This can be a great way to save money on items like jars, lids, and pectin.
Long-Term Benefits of Canning
Food canning offers several long-term benefits, which contribute to the preservation and quality of food. There are a number of advantages to it, including:
Extended Shelf Life: Canning significantly extends the shelf life of food. By sealing the containers and heating them to a specific temperature, the canning process kills microorganisms and enzymes that can cause spoilage. As a result, properly canned foods can remain safe to consume for months or even years, depending on the type of food.
As an example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), canning high-acid foods, like tomatoes and fruits, can retain their optimal quality for 12 to 18 months. Additionally, low-acid canned foods, such as meats and vegetables, can remain edible for two to five years.
Nutrient Retention: Canning allows for the preservation of essential nutrients in food. While some nutrients are lost during the heating and processing involved in canning, many others are retained. The sealed containers prevent oxygen and light exposure, which can degrade certain vitamins, such as vitamin C. As a result, canned foods can still provide a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Supporting that opinion, a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that canning tomatoes led to minimal nutrient losses, particularly for vitamin C and carotenoids, compared to other preservation methods like freezing or drying.
Convenience and Accessibility: Canned foods are highly convenient and accessible. Once canned, foods require no refrigeration or freezing, making them easy to store and transport. They are also readily available in stores, providing a wide variety of options for consumers. Canned foods offer convenience for quick meals, emergency situations, or when fresh produce is not readily accessible.
Cost-Effective: Canning can be a cost-effective way to preserve food, especially when ingredients are abundant and in season. Buying in bulk and canning surplus fruits, vegetables, or other perishable items can help save money in the long run. Canned foods also reduce waste since they have a longer shelf life, allowing you to use food that might otherwise spoil.
Food Security and Preparedness: Canning contributes to food security and preparedness. By canning and storing a variety of foods, individuals and families can build up a supply of non-perishable items that can be relied upon during emergencies, natural disasters, or times of financial hardship. Having a stockpile of canned foods ensures access to nutritious meals even when other food sources are limited.
Seasonal Enjoyment: Canning allows you to enjoy seasonal foods throughout the year. By canning fresh fruits and vegetables during their peak season, you can capture their flavors and nutritional value for later use. Opening a jar of home-canned produce during the off-season can provide a taste of summer or fall, adding variety to your meals.
In a nutshell, the art of canning not only preserves the flavors of the season but also offers a multitude of financial benefits. By taking advantage of bulk produce deals and preserving them for later use, you can significantly reduce your grocery expenses and enjoy the taste of homemade goodness year-round.
Moreover, canning permits you to have full control over the ingredients, ensuring that you and your loved ones are consuming wholesome and nutritious meals. So why not embrace the age-old tradition of canning? Not only will you save money, but you’ll also savor the satisfaction of self-sufficiency and the joy of preserving a taste of summer in every jar.
I’m Grayson Watson, your frugal companion and the brain behind this money-saving extravaganza. Strap yourself in, because we’re about to embark on a wallet-friendly adventure like no other. Learn More!