If you spend $10 on herbs a week, that’s $520. What happens if you save that money and invested the saved money by growing your own herbs for your adult life?
Kind of insane, right? For an activity that’s super simple and takes barely any time.
Grocery Store Pricing Is So Weird
The grocery store is an incredibly interesting experiment on pricing, it seems.
There’s the rotisserie chicken that is priced cheaper than anything you could ever make it for? Why? It’s a loss leader to get you into the store to buy things.
Every week, there’s a few non-permanent loss leaders so you gravitate towards them. But their complementing ingredients are more expensive to make up for it. Cheaper avocados? Possibly expect more expensive tomatoes or onions to make your guacamole.
Cheaper fresh strawberries this week? Hopefully you snatch up the deal, and maybe the incremental increase in price is something you won’t notice the next week you go to the grocery store.
But the most insidious plan of all? The price of herbs.
Perhaps the best complementing ingredient that is “overpriced” is herbs. You only ever need a tiny bit, so why is each tiny clump of springs $2.99?
Herbs Are The Priciest Necessary Item Per Pound
It’s something you don’t quite think about when you grab a few springs of basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, etc.
After all, it’s only $1-$3 per fresh herb stalk to make your dishes incredibly tasty. Worth it, right? Oh, man. I thought that too. It is definitely worth it. I just didn’t realize how easy it was to start my own herb garden and ended up saving a ton.
A couple of months ago, I considered starting a garden. Half of it was to take care of a living thing, and the other half was me thinking which plants could have the best ROI. Since I live in NYC, where everyone lives in a tiny apartment with no outdoor area, I had to think of the highest ROI plants since the only room to grow anything was in front of the living room window.
Then I happened on herbs. Every week, I would spend around $5-$15 on fresh herbs and would have to throw away the remainder because they wouldn’t last more than a week. Such a waste!
So I wondered how difficult it was to grow my own little garden. Turns out, pretty easy! Most herbs sprouted in just a few weeks and it’s effectively lowered my grocery bill by $520 a year! My dishes are much more flavorful as well because I never bought more than 3-4 different herbs at a time but now I can grow 10 different kinds!
My Garden Expenses: How To Grow Your Own Herb Garden
Variable Expenses – Expenses I will need to buy every year
Water: Free in my apartment, but water is $3.81 per 748 gallons in NYC. So probably $2 per year since it doesn’t take much water to water tiny herbs.
Organic Soil: $12 per bag (We don’t really have soil outside we can take home, so I just got some off of Amazon). You can either use new soil every year or some kind of organic nutrient.
Seeds: $15 for 10 kinds of Non-GMO herb seeds, ~270 seeds per kind (2,700 total!). This will probably last a few years as I’ve only used a few seeds per pot and they’re heirloom seeds.
Fixed Expenses: Things I can buy once and don’t need to buy again
Total Yearly cost for Year 1: $39
Total Yearly cost for future years: $29
What’s My Return On The Herb Garden?
Since I normally spend at least $10 per week on herbs from the grocery store on just 3-4 herb kinds, that’s $520 a year. Now I have 10 different herbs I can use for a much lower cost! At $39 a year for the 1st year’s startup costs, that’s a 1,300 percent ROI! Plus it’s nice to just save $500 a year on your grocery bill in general. You can use that money to pay off debt, pay off student loans, or just invest to get more passive income.
In year two, that skyrockets even more to a 1,790 percent return.
If you’re calculating from a wage standpoint, it takes less than an hour to do the initial planting of your seeds. When I researched online, people said most herbs live at least a year, except for basil, which might need replanting every 6 months. If we say it takes 2 minutes a day to water your garden, that’s 1 hour of time per month total per month. Let’s call that 13 hours of “work” per year for your herb garden (1 hour each month to water, 1 hour to plant originally), so you’re making $40/hour.
Whichever way you think about it, 1,700 percent a year return or $40/hour is an awesome ROI and savings rate.
How Difficult Is It To Grow A Herb Garden?
Pretty easy actually. You just put the miracle soil into the little terra cotta pots, create a little hole and sprinkle a few seeds in each hole and cover the soil back up. You spend 1-2 minutes each day watering the plants and then eventually they’ll come up in a few weeks. Not all the seeds will live, so that’s why I plant a few seeds per hole.
Plus, there’s a kind of catharsis and proud moment when you water the plants everyday and realize you’ve grown a living thing. Even if it is hard to fail at it, you still feel good.
Fresh Herbs Taste So Much Better
Have you ever been to one of those strawberry picking farms and realized how much tastier they are? It’s kind of the same concept with herbs. Fresh food just tastes so much better than something from the grocery store! Even if the grocery store items are organic, there will always be a few days or weeks delay between the food getting picked from the farm to getting to the grocery store due to logistics.
From your tiny garden to your kitchen in a few seconds is always better.
Can I Grow Other Things?
The ultimate fun money-saving hobby would be to start your own garden. You could grow organic produce for much, much cheaper, but best of all, you could have the most fresh ingredients possible! The fresher your ingredients, the more delicious your meals will be. It’s why some of the best restaurants in the world cook from their own gardens. Not that we’re taking our small garden to that level, but just saying!
Unfortunately, there is no room in my apartment to grow other things, so if you’ve always wanted to grow a garden that was simple and didn’t take up much space, here’s your chance to grow a herb garden for very low cost!
Maybe one day when we move out of the city we’ll be able to create a larger garden for fun.
I’m against some DIY projects as they usually don’t end up saving a ton (have you seen the ones where you effectively get paid less than minimum wage to do? Those kind of irk me), but this one effectively pays you a high wage at $40/hour which is quite nice. It’s also fun to grow them!
Have you ever started a small garden? Are you considering starting your own herb garden?
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