Steadfast Finances5 Healthy Dishes from the Victory (Suburban) Garden for Under One Dollar - Steadfast Finances

5 Healthy Dishes from the Victory (Suburban) Garden for Under One Dollar

Filed in Frugal Living , Good Eats , Personal Finance 10 comments

I’ve raised a small container vegetable garden on my deck going on five years now.  Fresh herbs (oregano, cilantro, basil, etc), tomatoes and a few other easily grown veggies have been added to the list over the years.

Yesterday, I came upon the realization that nearly every lunch I’ve had for the last two weeks has cost me less than $1.

How you ask?

  1. My basic greens are free.  I grow my own spinach, mesclun and lettuce in three medium sized containers (3ft x 1.5ft) that produce enough biomass for me to eat a generous salad at least five days a week.  I paid less than $5.00 for seed during the off season, so I made back my original investment the first week I harvested fresh greens.
  2. My fresh herbs are free.  No longer do I pay $5.00 for wilted basil or flavorless chives from a tiny plastic container at the market.  It may say fresh on the box, but it doesn’t come close to fresh picked.  Many of the herbs I currently harvest from were grown years ago, so upfront cost is a non issue.
  3. I grow the higher cost items.  Cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, and the larger beefsteak tomatoes are all grown on my deck.  Best of all, these things cost $2.50 to $5.00 per pack or per pound at the grocery store, so I’m making out like a bandit.  They do require a little more work maintaining the vines, but it’s easy once you setup a supporting cage, trellis or stake.

The only costs I really incur are the salad dressings (which I usually make myself), extra virgin olive oil, or any spices that I use to make them more flavorful.  In the end, I only use a very small fraction of these supplies, so their cost per serving is minimal at best.

If you’re curious, I have a partial list of some of the herbs and vegetables I’m currently growing this season.

Healthy Meals for Under $1 from the (Sub)Urban Garden

  1. Traditional Garden Salad.  Fresh greens, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and you’re done (I skip the cucumbers pictured below).  Takes less than two minutes to make, which is probably why I eat this for lunch five times a week or more.  My only out of pocket expense is the Italian salad dressing, which I can buy on sale and costs me no more than $0.50 per salad. garden-salad
  2. Caprese Salad.  Fresh mozzarella can be pricey, but if you know your local market well enough and keep your eyes open for a bargain, you can catch it on sale.  One of my favorite all time simple salads.insalata-caprese-salad
  3. Fresh salsa.  While not a meal in itself, it makes a great snack for guests or as a flavor enhancer for any number of dishes (fajitas, scrambled eggs, etc).  All you need is a little lime or lemon juice, and you’re set.  Plus, it’s way better than the boiled salsa in a jar that costs $4.freshly-made-salsa
  4. Stuffed Peppers.  Bell peppers (I prefer red) provide the perfect medium to stuff them with whatever you want, while still getting a big dose of Vitamin C in the process.  I usually go for the spinach, breadcrumb and ricotta stuffing which keeps it cheap, but very flavorful.stuffed-peppers
  5. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.  An extremely easy side dish to make, but can get pricey when a small container of cherry tomatoes costs $5 per box.  A little garlic salt, pepper, and olive oil, and you’ve got a healthy and colorful side dish in less than five minutes.roasted-cherry-tomatoes

If you’re still skeptical that a small urban garden or raised garden bed can actually save you money, some studies suggest that a small home garden can generate a 10 fold return on your investment.

Got any tips from your own garden?

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Photos by slushpup, Jeff Kubina, Florian, sfllaw, missy & the universe

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Posted by CJ   @   17 June 2009 10 comments
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Jun 17, 2009
9:23 pm
#1 Matt Jabs :

WOW! Good lookin’ stuff Matt. I am very excited for my garden to start producing; when it does…I may have to partake in a few of these awesome & frugal recipes.

Jun 17, 2009
9:45 pm
#2 Matt :

Thanks man! One of the benefits of doing the container garden thing is you get a head start on the growing season. On a cold night, just move them into the garage.

Jan 18, 2010
11:49 am
#3 viggie :


Apr 19, 2010
1:44 pm
#4 ,mary :

cant wait for my veggies to grow

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