Here are the top vegetables to grow at home this month if you're looking to slash your supermarket shopping bill.
The weekly food shop is the biggest living expense for most Kiwi households after the rent or mortgage. Frustratingly, the cost is often pushed up higher when you start trying to add more fruit and veg to your trolley. Fresh produce is regularly the topic of newspapers and discussion groups here in New Zealand with many complaining that it can be blindingly expensive.
Growing your own is one smart way to give your food costs the chop. When New Zealand's level four lockdown was announced, to stem the spread of covid-19 coronavirus, a grow-your-own veggie surge came right on its heels. Garden centres sold out of popular vegetable seedlings, and seed packets flew off the shelves as Kiwis sought self-sufficiency over battling for that last limp carrot. Growing your own is likely to increase in popularity - particularly with the likelihood of a recession or full-blown depression putting pressure on finances.
Here are our picks for the top vegetables to grow at home if you're looking to save some cash.
Taking the top spot is kale, a superhero veggie that keeps giving and giving. It's a great source of antioxidants, low in calories and stupendously versatile - yummy in everything from salads and soups to stir fries.
In most supermarkets, kale costs around $3 for a 175g bag (when you can find it). Or you could buy a packet of 1000 seeds for $2-4 (depending on the variety). It's clear to see how growing your own is a bargain.
Broccoli can cost a decent chunk of change at your local supermarket. When we last checked, shoppers were having to shell out $1.50 for one head of the green brassica.
Broccoli is an ideal option for first-time gardeners as it is relatively forgiving and easy to grow. For a mere $2.99, you can pick up a packet of 40 seeds that will yield broccoli in 16-18 weeks.
In third place is the ever-popular lettuce. Grow your own and save money – one seed packet provides five months' worth of the vegetable. A much cheaper option than store bought lettuce, especially if you regularly grab a bag of the pre-cut and washed salad.
You know. That bag that can cost north of $2.99 for a piddly 120g and always goes yuck and slimy before you can get through it...
If ever there was a veg that deserved to be crowned official national vegetable of New Zealand, it is the humble beetroot. We can't get enough of the stuff. Burgers, salads and sandwiches are all made much better with a few ruby red slices.
Beetroot is a pretty speedy grower, ready to pick in just 9-11 weeks. The seeds won't break the bank either. For $2.99 you can walk away with a pack of 100 future beetroots.
That stands in stark contrast to the supermarket, with most charging $1.10 for two beetroot (as of April 2020). Or vacuum packed beetroot, which costs a whopping $4.99 for five beetroot (or 250g). Ouch!
Grow your own potato plant and it will produce nine potatoes. In New Zealand, a pack of 10 seed potatoes will cost you just under $10, capable of producing 90 potatoes.
When you look at how much they can cost in the supermarket - around $1.50 each when you're buying them loose - it's easy to do the math.
You don't even need a dedicated veggie garden to grow potatoes. You can bung them in a planter bag with some compost and they will be perfectly happy. Stagger the planting so you have a bag ready for harvesting every month or so and you will never be short of your favourite homemade hot chips or creamy mash.
Cauliflower has copped some stick for being an expensive vegetable to buy. Do you remember the story about the $13 cauliflower that hit the headlines last month?
But there is no need to skip that crazy delicious roasted cauliflower dish that you're craving. Grow your own and save hundreds of dollars. In New Zealand, cauliflower can be planted in summer and autumn in cooler areas, and for mild places in early winter. It does take its time, ready for harvest in 17-20 weeks.
For $2.99, you can buy a pack of 150 seeds. That's almost $600 worth of this beautiful white veg! (based on the current supermarket price of around $3.99).