Fresh herbs can take a dish from good to great, and just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to miss out.
Fresh herbs are not a luxury item, because there are ways to acquire them that are not as expensive as constantly buying them fresh from the store. Spending a few dollars on herbs and spices each time you need them will quickly add up… but know you don’t have to cut them out completely to save costs either. At Budget Meal Planner, we recommend you grow your own herbs at home!
Forget about the large outdoor garden, or even the green thumb you thought you’d need to get started. We recommend a few seeds, a pot with some soil and a windowsill with plenty of light. With those supplies alone, you can easily grow your own herbs at home.
It really is that simple!
Do You Really Save Money?
Yes, you will save money by growing your own herbs.
Let’s assume that a basic fresh herb from the store will cost you $0.85 a packet. How often you’ll cook with fresh herbs is up to you, but we’ve calculated what this would cost if you purchased two, three and four packets of fresh herbs from the store, per month.
- 2x per month = $20.40 per year
- 3x per month = $30.60 per year
- 4x per month = $40.80 per year
*Of course, depending on your location and taste preferences, buying fresh herbs can cost more than $0.85 per packet, and therefore, increase the yearly costs we have calculated.
Alternatively, you can grow your own herbs at home.
Let’s assume a small, basic herb plant costs $1.72 to purchase. That could be your entire cost for the year, but perhaps you don’t have a green thumb, and you’ll need to replace it a few times a year.
- Cost of 1 plant = $1.72 per year
- Cost of 3 plants = $5.16 per year
- Cost of 6 plants = $10.32 per year
Even if you replace your herb plant 6 times in a year, it’s only half the price of purchasing two packets a month from the store. And if you need to buy a few pots and a bag of soil to get started, this will still come to an overall cheaper price than buying fresh packets of herbs from the store when needed.
Furthermore, you’re not just saving money, but time as well. You could have a whole bunch of herbs growing in your home, and not only have your choice of fresh herbs to add to your meals, but saves you from running to the shops over and over again.
While basil is a commonly grown herb outdoors, this easy-care plant can also be grown indoors. First, your basil plant should be kept somewhere warm, where it will get 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Second, it’s important to keep the soil of your basil plant slightly moist at all times, but also make sure it has good drainage or it could lead its roots to rot. Water at the roots, not the leaves, and only when the top soil is dry to the touch. You might find basil needs water every 1-2 days.
Mint can grow successfully in a variety of soils and light conditions, growing indoors in a window box, a pot of soil or even just in a bottle of water. Mint needs plenty of water and adequate drainage, but to properly thrive indoors, it herb needs indirect sunlight. It’s important to pinch off the tips regularly to encourage the plant to grow more healthy branches, and remove any dried or dead leaves as soon as you notice them.
Unlike other herbs, thyme prefers to be left alone. The more you fuss, the less likely it is to grow and survive. Other types of pots will suffice, but a clay pot will allow the thyme herb to dry out between watering and prevent overly wet roots. For the best drainage and nutrients, we recommend keeping your thyme in a mix of sand, potting soil, peat moss and perlite. Give it at least 4 hours of sunlight a day, and your plant will be growing in no thyme!
Like thyme, oregano thrives best in a mixed pot of sand, potting soil, peat moss and perlite. While this plant loves lots of water and sunlight, make sure to watch out for rotting roots and crown rot, which cause it to look under watered and stressed. Only water when soil is dry to the touch. Whether you buy a plant from the store or start with your own seeds, give it plenty of space to grow, because oregano can be 1 to 2 feet tall and spread about 18 inches when well-looked after.
If you live somewhere that is a bit colder, or has a winter season, lemongrass is the herb for you! This particular herb thrives indoors, because it can’t grow outside in a cooler climate. With that in mind, all you need is a warm windowsill that gets plenty of sunlight. Lemongrass spreads and grows to be a few feet tall, and therefore, will need more room than a small herb pot. Grab yourself a large pot with excellent drainage, and plant it potting soil with perlite.
One thing to know before planting rosemary is that water is the key for this herb — in fact, if given too much, it will simply drown. To keep your herb healthy and thriving, rosemary must always be kept moist, which means not too wet or dry. With good drainage and lots of sunlight, rosemary will grow well indoors. Pro tip for keeping rosemary over winter: it grows very slowly, and needs even less water in winter than it did in summer. Stick your finger in the soil and if the top two inches feel dry, it’s time for some liquid life support.
Chives prefer full sun, but they will survive almost anywhere. When growing indoors, you’ll want to give this herb about 6 hours of sunlight a day, so a south facing window is the best spot for it. Water when the topsoil feels dry to the touch to keep your plant healthy and thriving.
Believe it or not, growing your own herbs indoors is super easy. With this short guide, you have everything you need to know to get started. Just remember to give your new plants some TLC and you’ll have an abundance of fresh, delicious herbs in no time.
Pro Tip: If you notice your herbs are growing too quickly for you to use, you can freeze them! Just harvest them at their peak freshness, and use when desired.