If you often use herbs in cooking, you may want to consider growing your own. If you aren’t using herbs often, in my opinion, you should be! They’re a great, nutritious1 way to give even basic dishes a lot of flavor. That’s why I wanted to let you know about the financial benefits of growing herbs so you can reap the health1 and taste benefits while saving money at the same time.
Most Common Types of Herbs Used in the Kitchen
Some of the most common types of herbs used in cooking include the following:
Fortunately, growing all of these herbs at home is very easy to do.
Growing herbs can be done inside, outside, in containers or in the ground. It mainly depends on the amount that you need and the space that you have available to you. If you decide to grow them anywhere but in the ground, you’ll also want to make sure that they’re in a nice sunny spot. Some types actually do fine in partial or indirect sunlight, so these are the best for growing indoors or as I do, on my screened-in porch.
From a cost benefit perspective, it’s important to know that some herbs are perennials2 and will come back each year. These include Chives, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme. Keep them alive and your one-time cash outlay will definitely give you a fantastic return on investment.
Financial Benefits of Growing Herbs
If you buy fresh organic herbs in the grocery store, they can cost anywhere from $1.50-$5 for a bunch or a package, depending on the type that you’re buying. That’s for one bunch, that unless you’ve planned a couple of recipes for the week around that herb, you may or may not use all of it.
Growing herbs is such a money-saver because a packet of organic seeds can cost anywhere from $3.25 – $10 for a pack. Most are on the lower end and usually come in packs of 500-700 seeds.
The best part – if you don’t use all of them, you can store them, and they’ll stay viable for 1-5 years. Johnny’s Selected Seeds recommends that you store them in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. You can check out the company’s chart for average storage life for specific types of seeds here.
This type of storage life means that even if you’re using annuals, you can probably get at least two years of plantings, if not more, out of one packet of seeds.
If you decide to use starter plants for herbs, the cost for a season or year’s worth of herbs is equivalent to buying 2-3 bunches in the grocery store. When I’ve bought them as starter plants, I’ve paid $3-$4 for each plant.
You can also dry your herbs or store them in other ways so that they last anywhere from 3 months to a year or more. Here are a couple of great resources for that:
Resources for Growing Herbs
The following are resources for organic herb seeds that I would highly recommend.
- Seeds of Change
- Seed Savers
- Grow Organic
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Etsy – Yes, Etsy. Just go to their main website and search for organic herb seeds.
Growing herbs does require the upfront cost of investing in some pots or other types of containers and potting soil if you’re growing them inside or on a porch, but those costs are quickly recouped if you cook with herbs often. The ability to only cut as much as you need when you need it and to dry or otherwise store what you don’t use makes this an easy money saving strategy in my book.
- T Alan Jiang, Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices, Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, Volume 102, Issue 2, 1 March 2019, Pages 395–411, https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2008/aug/060101.htm