Friday, October 11, 2019

The real cost of canning food

I watched a video where a woman set out to prove that canning your own beans is cheaper than buying them already canned. She was careful with her dollars and cents, buying a bag of beans from a dollar store, then showing the price of one can of Great Value brand beans at 58 cents.

I don't know if this is the going price for canned beans. It seemed a little low to me, but I don't ever look at them, so I don't know.

She measured out a half cup of beans to a pint jar 9 times with a few beans left over, then she filled her jars with hot water and canned them. (This is not the USDA recommended way, but many people do it like this.)

All good, right? So she was happy that she wound up with 9 pints of canned beans for a dollar, while it would have cost her $5.22 to buy them. She only spent a half hour of work and the rest was up to the canner. It all sounds very good, and, yes, she did save money. Just not as much as she thought she did.

Let's do the math.

Pinto beans at one dollar plus tax, depending on where you are, anywhere from 0 to 12 cents.
Cost ot rinsing and processing water may be tiny, but it's there.
Cost of pressure cooker can be spread over many times, but it depends on how often and how much you can.
Cost of jars, the same
Cost of lids and rings are around $3,00
Cost of fuel, either electricity or gas, to bring a pressure cooker up to pressure and keep it there 75 minutes, which is how long it takes to can beans. That depends on the fuel and your local rates.

Even at that, she saved money and I do recommend that you try canning beans if you'd like them for recipes or to season quickly for a meal, but remember to think of everything else, too, and not just the cost of the food itself.

Spending pennies adds up, just like saving pennies does.


  1. Pat,
    I saw that same video, I think. And my thoughts were quite the same as yours.
    I am also wondering about how dehydrating raises cost of preservation of food--particularly if the food was purchased.
    Good thinking -- and things to definitely consider.


  2. Hi, Pat! Yes, I saw the same video. As a decades long canner. I buy sleeves of canning jar lids, which brings the cost to about 8-9 cents a lid an I reuse the rings. Though canning beans the way she did is not recommended, that is the the way I canned them for years. HOWEVER, the cost of electricity makes canning cost prohibitive. 3 years ago, I canned 48 quarts of tomatoes, 24 quarts green beans and fish. Canning fish takes 3 hours in a pressure canner but. We got the fresh fish off the boat at the local dock for $1.50 a pound.Fish is canned in pint jars. Anyway. My electric bill went up $300 that month. The next month I canned about 24 pints of fish and a bag of older dried beans and the cost was $150 increase in my electric bill. This year I canned 36 pints of veg and my electric bill sent up $75 . I have my water heater on a timer, cook by solar oven or camp stove, wash clothes by hand, dry them on the line and purchased an energy Star small fridge
    I am a widow now and my power bill is still $150 a month. I had to give up gardening because the increase in my power cost for watering it. There is no way watering is not requited in my climate. The increase in power costs is to make us all less self sufficient.

  3. PS Canned beans are between 58 and 85 cents where I live. And that price is for wally world house brand. Name brands run as high as $1.29 a can with Bushes small baked beans coming in at $1.59 for Vegetarian.