Saving Money on Canning Supplies
Canning food is an amazing way to stock your pantry, preserve seasonal food fresh from the garden and save money. BUT! All the supplies you need for canning, including the jars and lids, can add up. If you’re not careful, the costs can outweigh the savings. Here’s a few ways to save money on canning supplies.
Before you buy anything, make a list of what you need for canning. If you’re just getting started, check out my list of tools and supplies you need to can food.
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Buy used to save money on canning equipment and supplies
The great thing about canning supplies and equipment is that nearly all of it is reusable and very durable. While a new pressure canner or water bath canner can be a big investment, you can save tons buying them used. Be sure to have used pressure canners inspected at your country extension office. The seals deteriorate over time and will need to be replaced. The gauge should be check to ensure it’s accurate.
Canning jars last almost forever and it’s often easy to find them for sale in thrift stores or via Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Estate and rummage sales are great places to buy canning jars or tools.
Bonus tip – If you’re trying to acquire canning supplies cheaply, ask around. You may be surprised by how many of your friends or family have jars or tools languishing in storage. They’re often happy to get rid of them, especially if you offer to return a few jars filled with jam or other delicious treats!
Save Money on Canning Supplies by Planning and Being Organized
Advance planning allows you to buy everything you need, before you need it. No more last minute trips to the store or express shipping. And no running short in the middle of a batch. Being organized will also save you money on impulse canning purchases or rogue canning plans. Tracking all of your recipes, the expected yield and your shopping list will let you plan your purchases and budget for new supplies or ingredients.
There’s plenty of ways to plan out your canning season. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy to use option, check out my Printable Canning Planner!
The best canning books and books about food preservation
The All New Ball Book is my favorite canning book. In addition to providing sound instruction, it has really interesting recipes and it offers guidance on how to use the food you’ve canned in other recipes. I really like their ‘meals in a jar’ recipes, which include some tasty variations on canned vegetables and meats. Remember, canning isn’t just a way to preserve food – it’s also a great way to prepare food in advance.
If you only buy one canning book, that’s the one I recommend. Click on any of the books to order your own copy through Bookshop. Buying from Bookshop means I receive an affiliate credit (at no cost to you), which helps cover the costs of producing content. Bookshop robustly supports local, independent bookstores.
Buy Canning Supplies in Bulk to Save Money
Canning lends itself to bulk buying. Take advantage of that and buy your jars, lids and raw ingredients in bulk whenever possible. For example, Lehman’s sells canning lids in economical packs of 345 (regular mouth) and 288 (wide mouth) for around $70-80 per sleeve*. It’s hard to beat $.20-.25 per lid, plus you’ll be set up for the season. We all know canning lids and jars get harder to find as summer progresses, so this is a win-win.
The other money saving idea involves an upfront investment. Reusable Tattler canning lids will ultimately save you money, since you can (as the name suggests) reuse them. They’re pricier upfront, so it might be something you add to your canning supplies gradually. They work just like regular lids, but you can use them again and again. Learn more about using reusable canning lids.
Canning jars usually come in 12 packs, but some stores will sell these in bundles at a lower price.
Save money canning by growing your own food or buying in bulk
It’s definitely cheaper to can food you grew yourself. If you have space for a garden, consider planting things like tomatoes or green beans specifically to can.
If you aren’t growing the food you’re canning, it makes sense to buy it in bulk. Some great places to buy bulk produce locally include local farms and orchards, farmers markets and produce stands. Companies like Azure Standard and the Peach Truck specialize in delivering large quantities of fresh, high quality food right to your town. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop, either. Remember, the less you pay for the food you can, the cheaper the cost per jar!
*Based on 2019 prices
By the way, if you want to learn more about ordering high-quality groceries from Azure Standard, check out What It’s Like to Order from Azure Standard. Their products and service are outstanding, I can’t recommend them enough. If you decide to place an order, use MY CODE and I’ll receive a small commission. Even if I wasn’t an affiliate, I’d still recommend them!
Save Money By Purchasing Canning Supplies Early
We all saw how 2020 went. Canning jars and lids were so scarce by summer that the prices were through the roof IF you could even find them. I bought a few 12 packs of quart jars early in the year for less than one dollar per jar. By summer, they were averaging $3 per jar. While most years aren’t likely to have a run on canning supplies, it’s still smart to stock up early. Even in normal years, jars, lids and rings are harder to find by summer and because of that, the prices are usually higher. Buy early and save!
Take Good Care of Your Canning Supplies So You Can Re-use Them
With the exception of single-use lids, all of your canning supplies are infinitely reusable, if they’re in good shape. Store jar rings in a dry place so they don’t rust. Handle empty jars carefully to keep them from getting nicked or broken. Clean your canning tools well and store them in a clean, dry place. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining pressure canners or water bath canners. With proper care, one set of jars can get you through decades of canning.
If you work with reusable canning lids (more on those here), be sure to store the lids and rubber rings in a clean, closed cabinet or container. The plastic lids are virtually indestructible IF you keep them clean and store them carefully. The rubber rings have a shorter lifespan but can still last for years if they’re stored out of direct sun and extreme temperatures.
And while you cannot reuse single-use lids for canning, you can re-use them to store things in your canning jars! My old lids get used for jars of dried herbs, seeds, nuts, and much more.
Be Efficient When You Can to Save Money
Once you’ve bought jars and equipment, lids and raw materials will be the biggest ongoing costs. Plan your canning so you use the least amount of new lids possible. The little, tiny jars of jam or jelly are adorable. But unless you truly only want a quarter cup of jam at a time, use at least a half-pint jar. You’ll can twice as much jam (or whatever) with just one lid. Most jams or preserves will hold up in the fridge long enough to make a half-pint a reasonable choice.
Another example – if you know that most of your recipes call for quarts of tomatoes, don’t can a bunch of pints. The fewer jars you can, the fewer lids you need. Save your smaller jars and lids for things you really, truly only use in smaller amounts.
The inverse of this, of course, is don’t can food in bigger quantities than you can eat once the jar is open. That’s a waste of time, food and lids.
A less obvious cost benefit from canning efficiently is that you can more easily optimize your food storage. Cabinets and shelves can cost money initially and take up room. Fewer jars might mean you need less space to store your food, which can also be a way to save. How Much Space Do You Need To Store Food can help you figure out what your food storage capacity is and how much it will cost to increase it.
Obviously you should tailor this advice to your particular needs and recipes, but it’s worth taking the time to think about how you use your canned food before you fire up the canner.
Keep a Yearly Canning Inventory
There’s no reason to buy lids and use up your jars on foods you won’t eat. Keep a running tally of what you can each year and then make a note of things you either finished too soon or had an excess of. If you can 30 quarts of green beans and only eat half of those, you might want to put those extra jars and lids to better use next year. Your running tally will help you can just the right amount of food, which will save you money on lids, jars and raw materials.
Don’t Do This to Save Money on Canning Food
Don’t compromise established safety to save cash. What do I mean by this? Don’t use damaged or defective tools or equipment. Avoid canning food that’s spoiling or blemished or otherwise not in perfect condition. And don’t can things if you don’t have right equipment. So if you don’t have a pressure canner, don’t use a water bath canner instead (unless the food has a tested water bath recipe, of course). Don’t use jars that aren’t for canning or re-use lids (unless they’re made to be re-used).
In short, don’t take chances with the health and safety of your family if you don’t have the necessary items. It’s lousy not to be able to can something because you don’t have access to the right materials or equipment, but it’s not worth risking your health and safety.
Using these tips will help you save money on canning supplies. Have you tried some of these? Do you have tricks for saving money canning? I’d love to hear from you, drop a comment below and let me know!
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