To housewife Mavis Butterfield of Gig Harbor, Washington, saving money is a game. And she isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves to win.
No, this thrifty, coupon-clipping mother of two plans on growing 2,000 pounds of fresh food this year right out of her own back yard. Armed with 1.25 acres of planting space, Mavis says spending less on groceries and growing as much food as possible is great way to save those pennies.
She went from spending $9,768 on groceries in 2008 to just under $1,200 in 2011. And now, she feeds her family of four on a mere $100 per month— that's $25 a person!
"I do live in high-maintenance suburbia, and all my neighbors think I'm crazy for growing my own food when you could just go to the store and buy it."
Read - Gardener feeds family with $100 a month
Previously - This is the year you garden
There are way to many negative comments on here! What is so terrible about a woman having a vegetable garden and saving her family money? What is so wrong with a mother providing an abundance of healthy food for her family? She should be applauded for her hard work! To all you haters: The article wasn't a means to tell everyone they HAVE to grow all of their own food to save money. There are helpful things you can learn from this. You don't have to have a lot of land. I have a container garden on my back porch where I grow herbs, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers. It doesn't take much money or effort at all.
I think more urbanites are going to pick up on this type of idea. Most of us are struggling to find ways to gain back our purchasing power. Most of us will have to do this in less space however.
How much does she spend to make the garden? Unless she's able to collect seeds from her produce and avoid the inherent genetic issues, the cost of putting in the garden must be calculated. Even a couple bags of fertilizer or watering the garden significantly changes the economics of the calculation
Not really. It depends on where you live. Seeds shouldn't be more than about $150 a year at most if you buy premium stuff. Water, if you have your own well is going to run about $25 a month in electric bills from your pump if you run it 24/7. Fertilizer is almost free. You can get 30 yrds of manure for about $100 and actually the grass clippings from your lawn are great for that too! Tilling of course costs you a tiller and about $30 in gas a year.
As far as the time spent... if you have 2 or 3 kids, make them each spent 1.5 hours a day as part of their chores. Teaches them some good lessons about how if you don't work you don't eat etc. which will be useful later in life. Not to mention, they will be healthier by eating the fresh food. Another thing people fail to consider when having your own fresh produce is much more energy you have. You get a good extra hour per day that you aren't sleeping or vegged out on the coach and over all you just feel better not to mention spend less on medical bills, dieting etc.
People replying with a well thought out, non-insulting and constructive response? Careful Jim, you're going to break the internet.
Not a gardener, are you? She has chickens, so free fertilizer. The chickens eat the bugs in the garden, plus weed seeds and weeds, and damaged produce, and leftover meals from the family. So little to no food costs there, plus eggs.Water is easily collected from rain. Heirloom seeds are easily gathered and saved from year to year. WTF fool, did you think people 200 years ago ran down to the Wal-Mart and bought seeds? Or do you think the magic seed fairy just poofed them over? Shees.
Oh, good luck lady, on coastal AL clay soil or desert backyard in Las Vegas. Ha ha ha.
When my dad was small, they spent nothing on food except for stuff like oil and cooking wine. They had a farm and a stream behind their house.
I was expecting useful tips on how to save money at the store...instead I'm informed that I could spend 12 hours a day tilling, seeding, weeding, and watering. This is more of a human interest story and should be advertised as such.
I just laughed out loud to your comment. Are you kidding me? Here's a useful tip: instead of being critical towards a women who knows how to survive during hard times APPLY YOURSELF. Leaving rude comments because you don't know how to budget isn't going to get you anywhere.
Oh, so you think I will get up at 5.45AM, go to work and come back at 5.45 PM, and then cook dinner, eat it, and more or less at 7 when I'm done I'll run to my garden and weed, and plant, and water the stuff till I drop dead at 10PM. My dear husband will tuck me unconscious in bed. Thanks.
Something tells me he probably already does...
I do. I grow food, own a bakery and have a child. Lazy, waiting for the government to give you your welfare check.
I R HAZ A WOMEN!!
You can save money at the store by growing veggies on your patio. Not very time consuming and pretty fun. The more you grow, the more you save. There are no free rides though. Your reward is directly proportional to your effort.
Ya know, I hear that puppies can be found pretty cheap, and there REALLY delicious!
So tender. Like veal, only more so.
What? I thought you wanted to save money on food? (Guess you're not THAT thrifty – or that hungry...)
True dat, true dat. There's always a box of kittens or puppies being given away some where.
FREE MEAT!! they should write on the side of the box. I bet they would get adopted out of fear for them a lot quicker that way, LOL.
Why didn't you include THAT in the costs?
And the seeds?
And the labor?
And the bottles of tylenol & advil for the aches and pains?
It isn't brain surgery. This year, due to my job demands, I was only able to plant grape tomatoes. 12 plants purchased at a total cost of $3.89. Even though it is early in the growing season, I've harvested 3 pints, and have hundreds of blooms. It's going to be a good season. At $4.00 a pint for organic grape tomatoes at Kroger, I've already come out ahead. Plant a few plants next year. It isn't about becoming a megafarm or even having a 1 acre garden. It's about all of us who care actually taking a few small steps together.
YEA! MORE OUT OF WORK AMERICANS!
I feel like you need to read a book...or maybe watch an episode of sesame street...ya know, if you struggle with the whole reading thing. Obviously making an actual sentence is something you struggle with. Maybe before you make a comment about "farmers" or "business" you should work on your reading level. Good Luck.
I wonder if she is a stay at home mom.
Awesome! And that is a beautiful cabbage.
Well sure, sounds awesome, I think I'll try that. Oh wait, never mind, I forgot I live in a tiny apartment and don't have the $50,000 to buy 1.25 acres of land. I blew all that money on bachelors degree in architecture I guess. On the bright side, $200 per month per person you'll only have to go 4 years without eating to be able to afford to buy that land. Bummer, because I do like eating...daily. And here I thought CNN found a way for me to stretch the $9/hr wage I get so I could eat a bit more...
hahaha omg right!?
$9.00 are they hiring? I'm making $7.95 an Hr, but at least I got my student loans for my engineering degree paid off. I'm so glad we brought in a million engineers from India to cover the "shortage" of Engineers in this country. The two other engineers I work with at the pizza place will be glad to know an Architect can make up to $9.00 an Hr. I searched for "Homeless Engineer salary" on G00gle and I should be making $45k
Hey, don't worry about it. Look how her kid turned out!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Got screwed on the money you paid for that degree, didn't you? $9 per hour as an architect with a 4 year degree? You're selling yourself cheap. I make $65 an hour as an IT consultant with just a GED.
Wow you seriously need to look for a different career. You are totally short changing yourself. I know I do not have a college degree and I am making 27 dollars an hour as a tech. In fact I can not remember the last time I made under 20 an hour. This economy is booming if you know where to look. I also have grown vegetables in window seals instead of house plants. Herbs are a nice plant that you can do indoors and it sure is nice to add some fresh to your diet. Don't be a one of those that is always yelling out whoa is me poor me everyone else has it so much better. Figure out what they are doing right and what your doing wrong and change your situation.
Cher – Thanks! I forgot that snapping my fingers can magically provide a brand-new, high-paying job that only makes me work a half an hour a month and pays me $459,382.84 a year!
Wow – if not for your reminder – I'd have been stuck actually having to do REAL work because that's the way the REAL world works!
After reading this I have to ask...Do you really know how the real world works?? NO ONE EVER...(and this is obvious from your post) gets anywhere by playing the victim. This women had a plan and followed through with it, you may have a degree but when it comes down to it "only the strong survive"...The strong being those who do not cry about their problems online...the strong being doing something about it. Mcdonalds is hiring by the way maybe consider getting more then one job.
Yes! And it can be so tasty. Just grow a few large heads of cabbage. You can do many different dishes with them such as:
Cabbage stew, cabbage sandwiches, cabbage and carrots, stuffed cabbage, pigs in a blanket, and so on. It is a great way to save $$$
Where'd you get the bread?
Or were you being carbohydrate-wise and make it a cabbage-wrap?
You sneaky little devil, you!
My family likes fried cabbage. To me it's ok tthat way but I prefer boiled cabbage!, it's a good system cleaner that way as well.
Wow. The some of the biggest idiots, incapable of rational thought, (but fully loaded on jealousy and rudeness) have commented on this article. Utterly and completely scary to think that so many of these people are allowed to breed or live unsupervised. "Does she include the cost of this and that?" (Listing unrelated or ludicrous items.) Seriously? That's either incredibly moronic or unadulterated envy. Then, when you apply their own logic against their own comments, they erupt with either more rage or lack of rational speech. (A simple case of "they can dish it out but they can't take it.") CNN comment sections have become nothing but an embarrassment of hate and rudeness.
I'm sorry but all I heard you say was: gobble, gobble, gobble,
gobble, gobble, gobble.
Whatever... who are you to judge
I heard that Fox "News" had shut down their comment sections. Looks like the hating trolls have migrated here.
You can't grow 1.25 acres worth of food unless you have 1.25 acres worth of land.
Maybe if you pull the magic wand out of your butt and waive it around, you can create 1.25 acre plots for everyone commenting on this board and then we won't have that to whine about, huh?
Sorry dude. You are not allowed to comment on idiots if your beginning sentence doesn't make sense. You are defiantly being a hypocrite. Maybe take a break from the internet and try something like Mad Libbs..or hooked on phoniex. I feel like more people would take you seriously.
What's wrong with being a defiant hypocrite? "I am going to be a hypocrite and there's nothing you can do to stop me!"
Food is a lot fresher and tastier – go girl go. Wish I could
People, it only says she spends $100 per month on food NOT growing it. She probably spends the $100 on other foods to go along with what she grow.... like meat. You can't grow meat.
Huh. Can't grow meat? Guess a lot of farms are going to be real embarrassed to have sunk all that time and money into cattle and chickens and the like.
Well...we don't "grow" our meat but we do raise a cow, hog and rabbits to put in our freezer for the year. It would be nice to grow our veggies too but I just dont have a green thumb. I've tried but hats off to those that were blessed with a green thumb.
@cowgurlpenner You know what happened to people back in the day who didn't have the "green thumb"? They starved... The real irony is if the current food system ever broke down, all these "people without the green thumb" aka lazy city folk, will be the one's struggling to survive.
Haven't you watched the Walking Dead?
Us city-folk will all be zombies, wandering out to the sub-urbs and country, eating all you garden-fed fat farmers.
Well, mostly your brains.
But we'll still eat'cha!
Either invest in a few gardening books or read up the many blogs on gardening to get some good tips and you will begin to see your thumb getting greener.
Does the 100$ include the cost of water, yard waste disposal, pesticides for the plant – to maintain a small yard with some flowers i spend a good sum (though less than 100$). so its surprising if she is managing all with just a 100
Growing food is only expensive if you fall into the belief that you need to purchase pesticides, seeds and the like. Seeds are usually a one time expense, because when a plant matures it will yield seeds for the next season's planting. Pesticides are necessary if you do not practice companion planting, or use other natural methods to control pests. I have been growing a garden since I was old enough to tell weed from plant, and I do not use pesticides. Yard waste is composted and used as fertilizer. It is not expensive to grow your own food, but it does take a lot more effort than just buying it. One other benefit is that food straight from the garden tastes much better than what you can get at most stores.
One thing to keep in mind, though: many seeds that are sold commercially are genetically modified to be "sterile" and cannot be harvested from one year to be used the next. Occaasionally, I'll get lucky with old tomatoes thrown into the mulch pile that come up the next year, but only infrequently. It all depends on what seeds are purchassed initially, or from the stock available, although it's easier with the internet to access "heirloom" varieties of many vegetables or fruit that can be harvested from year to year.
Simple solution - don't buy GMOs and let your seed catalogue companies know that you won't. There are now seed banks in various parts of the country. There's a huge one down the street from me in Petaluma, CA that sell only natural, organic, and heirloom seeds. They have mail order. I am surprised at the number of people who think they have no personal control over their seeds or their use of pesticides.
What about taxes on that plot of land (in addition to all the other gardening expenses)?? Just because you dont pick it up at a crochery store and pay at checkout doesnt mean its free.
You're an idiot. Seriously.
"crochery?" I could do 20 minutes on this.
A lot of what we spend on "groceries" at the supermarket are actually paper products, cleaners, and other non-edibles.
The entire food stamp program is a waste of $
I agree – the entire welfare system is out of control.
Yeah, we should just let them die like those losers with no health insurance. (/sarc)
Does that include corporate welfare too?
Emphatically, yes it does. Even more so than personal welfare. But both are out of control.
Food stamps actually returns 1.75 to the economy for each $1 spent. It's most definitely not a waste of $$. It's actually the most economical and beneficial safety net program in existence.Kids learn better if they're not starving, which then helps the next generation. Parents work better if they're not worried about their children starving, which helps the current economy. Food stamps mostly goes to help the working poor, those working at low income jobs and trying to make ends meet.
Agreed. Using my tax dollars for food stamps is a much better investment in the future than paying for the Obama's luxury vacations.
WTF? Presidents for many years have been taking vacations..what are you even talking about?? So many pp on food stamps at the store I see with their carts full to brim while I have to carefully pick and choose what I get that can stay within my budget. I can't recall ever being able to fill my cart up to the top like so many of pp with food stamps do. and with so much junk food!!! ridiculous that if we are trying to help children by giving them nutritious foods then food stamps should not be able to pay for this crappy, unhealthy, processed, corn syrup crap. AAHHHH!!
You should watch and see what folks that get food stamps buy. in KY they can buy soda candy etc. Cold food trays from supeermarket delis and evenn wedding cakes. That is NOT what food stamps are for. We cant ebven get people to work at our store. I know of 2 people who recently quit and walked out on their jobs and they had foodstamps withn a couple of days. We should be helping those who need it not those to dang lazy to work.
It would be nice if this philosophy could be the norm for those collecting food stamps – that with their acceptance of this program, that they attend budgeting and nutrition classes – what I see now is a bunch of fat, lazy women buying Cheetos and sugary soft drinks for their children. I also have to pay for two meals a day when they are in school – and because of the budgets, schools outsource the food service program, which is a huge mistake.
First of all, you're making an assumption that the words "fat & lazy" are one and the same. Just because she's fat, doesn't mean she's lazy and you don't know it for a fact. She may be down on her luck as we have been at some time or another. Number 2: lower socio-economic people are usually heavier because the high fat, high carbohydrate foods are cheaper to buy. You know it and I know it too. Be less judgmental. Maybe you'll find yourself in the same situation someday?
Observable fact – almost all food stamp users I've seen are FEMALE and FAT
Provable fact – If they are not working, why would they not be considered LAZY if tax dollars are paying for their food supply?
I have been laid off from a job before – I immediately took another job collecting no unemployment and no state or federal assistance because I wanted to pay my own bills – and I suffered nearly a 40% pay cut in doing so. Enough of the whining and handouts.
They're called KIDS. They are VERY expensive, and working while being a single parent is a near impossibility.
Hey, I have an idea, look up EMPATHY, and grow out your SYMPATHY gland.
You'll be a better person for it. But in all honesty, you can't get much worse.
It is actually called responsibility. There is nothing stopping a person who has a child from making money, except for an excuse. It is not easy or fun, but many have done it. If a pregnancy is unexpected and a child is born without means to support him or her, it is a mistake. Not learning from that mistake and having another child without the means to support him or her is irresponsible.
Location plays a significant factor in food purchases as well. Urban poor/welfare recipients have virtually no access to healthy foods for a variety of reasons (including lack of food markets other than the local convenience store). Did yoy know that the bag of Cheetos that you buy for $2 would sell for 79 cents, or even less, in a poor neighborhood? Snack food companies do that because they know they can get more money from the affluent neighborhoods for their products, so they can sell them cheaper in the poor urban areas. And many of these same stores don't even carry raw staples, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, or they offer a can of soup for $2. If someone has $2 to spend for a meal for themselves and their kids, do you think they're going to spend it on one can of soup , or two or three bags of chips? Which do you think would actually be more filling for them?
Even if the seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and water were all free, TIME is money. Quick calculation: Federal Minimum wage $7.25/hr. multiplied by just 80 hours of planting, weeding, harvesting, and processing, per month: totals $600. That works out to 20 hours a week total work hours. If more than one person is involved their wages would need to be added thus raising the cost of the food.
Gardening with the family is a good way to spend time. If you are working or shopping you are probably not with your family. Can you put a price on spending time with your kids?
@Matt dude I wish I could thumbs up your replies or something. Wise words!
You're an idi0t.
And yet $1500 is too much money for nearly a year's worth of food. Custom grown, organic based, food. Or at least that's what some tell us. We'll stick to what we do. :-)
Because those 80 hours for min wage should otherwise be spent on the newest MMO or watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Time spent improving yourself, home or situation can never be equaled in a pay comparison. Keeping a good looking yard, should you have to be paid? No. Its your choice for a sense of satisfaction. Take it as it is a story showing that by taking time to grow your own food can cut down on other costs. Someone else already addressed the issue of saving money. I am lucky to have a pear tree in my yard, two months out of the year I eat pears for free, for the cost of a little water. So I can say I save 25-30$ a month in fruit costs...
It's possible. My mom is a country girl. She taught all of us kids how to garden. When we lived in the 'burbs north of Atlanta, we had string beans growing right next to the tennis court, tomatoes, squash, you name it. I have my own family now and I still garden. Mostly tomatoes and hot peppers, but I trade with neighbors who grow other things. Homegrown is the best.
Not only that, she's pretty cute. She can toss my salad any day.
Gardening make us happy, eat our own grown food make us healthy, as a result she's beautiful from in and out.
Got to give her a lot of credit, plant 1.25 acre requires a lot of intensive labors, it's not easy, I want to get more info from her.
And how in the world can she find 1.25 ACRES to plant on! IN suburbia we have a house with .20 acres, and most of that is under a house and sidewalks. Getting that kind of land in this area would run you another $500,000.
Cute? Good Lord! You must be blind.
Gag -you are really immature and mean spirited.
What I would like to know is where she found 1.25 acres of land in suburbia(I know that is impossible here in the Chicago area)...did she buy land outside of her property, etc... and what are the costs of farming and are they included in that 100 figure or is that just what she has to buy at the store. The article could use more detail.
Try Lake County – Long Grove, Lake Zurich, Hawthorn Woods. There are plenty of 1 acre+ lots.
I so have to check out her blog for tips. Every bit helps! I love the idea of gardening, but truthfully do not know how. I am trying a windowsill herb garden- so far, they're not dead. At least it's a start. Good for Mavis- looks like she's a do-gooder with her excess produce- always a good thing.
Holy Moly people, give the woman some credit. Too many negative comments here. I think it is wonderful. Dont be envious because you choose or cant do what she is doing. Just be happy for her. For cryin' out loud. Such nasty negative people in this world
I think when people hear stories like this, about people who are doing well, the majority will try to find a negative or come up with a million reasons why it won't work. Then they can feel better about the fact that they aren't doing anything productive.
I agree. She's doing great work with this. Everyone can do something, even in urban areas, with some creativity. At my current condo I can't plant a garden on the property, but my small porch has six large buckets with tomatoes, beans, peppers, cukes, and a whole bunch of basil. I know I save a couple of hundred of dollars per year, and it works great!
Fantastic! Go girl! It must be so much work but I would imagine its extremely gratifying! Are you going to be canning foods for winter?
Canning, that is another great idea. More power to her.
People have to be extra careful when they can their food. Botulism can be serious.
It's very simple and easy to can (jar) fruits and veggies. My Gram did it every year, and we'd have peaches, green beans, onions, cukes and tomatoes during the winter months that she'd grown in the summer. One great thing about having a Gram who grew up during the Depression, I learned how to do a lot of things around the house myself and I can get by with very little.
I have the tiniest plot in my backyard, but grow tomatoes & basil in one of those topsy turvy things & onions, zuccini, taters and squash in the ground. I don't use any synthetic pesticides, only natural ones (the same ones my Gram used, certain plants repel pests and coffee grounds work for certain ones) and my water bill isn't very high at all, so all of you folks saying it costs a bundle to do this, you're very wrong. It can be done very cheaply, depending on what you grow.
no wayyyyy...its not possible, i cant believe...really, she spend just $100 per month feeding your family...maybe if she lives in bangladesh....but not in america..
Wow. Idea shot down right out of the gate. Have you even tried it yet?
yikes Sandra! It IS possible! It's probably long days and a labor of love we can't even imagine... Bless the small farmers!
Are you serious? "growing 2,000 pounds of fresh food this year right out of her own back yard. Armed with 1.25 acres of planting space".
You wasted valuable internet space putting this out? Why didn't you just post a picture of a cat?
That's like saying a dairy farmer is only going to spend $20 on milk this year.
Totally uninformative. Unhelpful. Un-insightful.
Now how about that picture of the cat?
wow, you must not know what it's like to grow food at all. It's a HUGE achievement, totally impressive, and the completely opposite of every mean spirited word you spewed. Small farms are not automated. There's no big tractor tilling and planting for this lady- she's doing back breaking work and proving that we can do things differently to have safer, cheaper, healthier and locally grown food. (I'm not saying everyone should go this far). The comments here on CNN are so negative. Seems everyone out there is a bit on the miserable side...sad to see that:(
You don't know what I know. So don't be so pompous. As a matter of fact, I DO know how hard it is to grow my own food.
My point - obviously lost on you, is that this article posits such an obvious point - like saying the sky is blue, that it totally lost it's impact and application.
No reflection on the lady's hard work. Just the blazing vapidness of the article. You know, like your comment.
I see jpbrody-you do know how hard it. So you're not ignorant, just a jerk. Good to know!
She only spends at the grocery store $100 a month, which is great. But she doesn't explain the time and money that goes into farming. Does she fertilize her crops whether she chooses to use manure or chemical fertilizer that costs money. Eventually she will have to replinish her soil with the nutrients she pulls out with each harvest, so some type of fertilizer will be used. Seeds aren't free. Water isn't free unless she has a deep well, but since she is located within suburbia I assume it's city water. Also take into consideration the weather, since it mostly rains there water might not be an issue but lack of sunlight might affect growth. Did I mention how much time it takes to manually care for 1.25 acres. It's not just a $100 month for food.
But if you have the time to farm your land more power to you!
WE SHOULD ALL JUST GIVE UP AND DIE.
It's fun, too, you know.
Your post is a desert. Your words show your soul is as barren as the crusty ground around the Salt Lake. This must be jealousy at its worst. All you've seem to grow is anger. I'd hate to be you; and I'm sure, so do you.
Remove your head from that place where tha' sun don't shine. Your brain needs the oxygen.
Don't forget the cost of the land and its yearly taxes.
Plus, it's fun!
You know what really blows? Apparently there is a covenant in our neighborhood – no gardens. WTF??! Have to be sneaky and fill the deck up with potted plants instead.
wtf? no flower gardens? have them define garden.
Ooh! Good point.
Deck is already full of pots growing you-know-what [inhales deeply and holds breath].
Feeding a family of four on $100 a month is a dang neat trick. More power to her!
I do a lot of fishing, and there is always something in the freezer, but there's no way I save like she does. Good for her!
thank you for the positive post here! I grow tomatoes, kale and my herbs. I never have to buy herbs and spices at the store... And I have fresh kale every day all summer. All I have is a raise bed out back. It is possible to grow a little:) good for you for fishing! I think it's cool:)
I H I
Ah, the secret language of the Original Flamenons.
I love the fact that you both picked up on that. Awesome!
Agree with Truth, more power to her. I just started a large plot in a community garden in my neighborhood and have really enjoyed the benifits of it. Nice thing is everyone grows different stuff so there is a lot of vegtable trading.
I had a comment about this, too, but is awaiting moderation. Probably because of a word I used that describes what the wind does.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,149 other followers