Is Getting Your Own Food Cheaper

For the last few years, I’ve made it a point to try and obtain some of my own food.  For a lot of people this means a garden.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to do that quite yet because I’m afraid the dog will tear it up, and along with that, I dont want to do anything to the back yard (I rent).  So this leaves me to trying other ways to get my own food.  I’ve done some of this (though I’m not sure if it would count) by canning apples, and I’ve also done some elk hunting  and antelope hunting.  Unfortunately I havent gotten an elk yet, but antelope are plentiful here to the point of becoming a huge nuisance, so I’ve gotten one of those two years in a row.  One thing that I’ve been wanting to do more of is fish.  Usually it’s pretty cheap, and there’s good fishing close to where I live (mostly trout).  So I decided to book a charter fishing trip when I was in Alaska – it was one of two “big” (read: spendy) things that I decided to do while there.  Here’s what it cost – and I’ll leave out the flight and the room and food, I would have needed those anyway.

  • Charter trip (Late season) $220
  • Out of State fishing license $20 (1 day)
  •  Safeway $15 – Ziplock bags, foil and saran wrap.  There were no processors of fish left open in town ( I probably wouldnt have used one anyway) so that I could portion, pack and freeze my catch.
  • Cooler $23 I needed something to take the fish home with me so that they wouldn’t de-thaw on the plane.  This worked really, really well, but it was because the cooler was packed very, very full.  It also didnt fit everything in it – 1 serving had to be packed alone.  I’ll have to see how this one fared.
  • Check bag fee $20 – to check the cooler to take home.
So in total, I spent approximate $298 to catch and take home this fish.  I didnt get any very large halibut, but I got some fair sized ones.  According to my count, I got about 12 two person servings for dinner, for an average cost of $12.50 per serving.  Now I dont typically buy halibut too much at the store but if I recall, I’ve seen it go for 16.99 per pound, and I took home approximately 15 lbs.  While this is high cost, I took this estimate from a nearby whole foods and though the store is expensive, what I caught is what they market.  “Organic, wild caught, bla bla bla”.
Fish Caught by Everyone in the Boat – We each got 2.

All in all, I got less than $90 dollars worth of fish from the fishing trip, bringing my cost per pound of halibut to a level that I dont even care to calculate.  However, the trip wasnt just about taking home enough fish to feel me and H for the winter.  I wanted to experience something new (I’d never been halibut fishing, or on a boat that small in the open ocean), and I wanted to have fun.  Both of those things I accomplished, and like I’ve been learning quite a bit lately, it’s not always going to be about the money.

Of course, there are  plenty of ways that you can make getting your own food cheaper.  Hunting or fishing in your own state would probably be the first one that comes to mind.  You’ll get cheaper prices for tags because you pay state taxes, and you wont have to travel too far.  This would also eliminate the need to check a bag to take back home.  (sidebar: One guy on the boat from my state shipped a moose home from Alaska.  I dont even want to know how much that cost).  Doing the processing at home would be free as well, as just about everyone has foil/saran wrap already.  Some of my hunting trips over the last 3 years have cost about $75 ($50 for an antelope tag and another $20 or so to have it ground into sausages/hamburger, and 5 bucks for a beer or 2 to celebrate with my hunting buddies).
I also got some killer pictures from the fishing trip, and alaska.  To see part 1 of my alaska pictures, head here.

Readers: Do you ever get your own meat, or do you stick to gardening?  If you do get your own meat, have you thought about cost effectiveness, or are you just interested in where you food comes from and going out and having some fun?

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16 thoughts on “Is Getting Your Own Food Cheaper”

  1. I’m sure it is cheaper if you don’t have to fly to Alaska to get it 😉

    Seriously, by getting to know your local farmers (produce and livestock) you can save a lot of money, especially if you buy in bulk and/or pick your own.

  2. I am envious you are able to get your own meat and fish! The savings, health benefits and fun make it all worth it. We also rent so gardening isn’t an option, but that is one thing in which we are interested. As Sustainable PF recommended, I am looking into joining a coop to get our produce from local farmers.

  3. Wow I love the pic of those fish!! That’s awesome. I used to go fishing with my dad a lot when I was a kid. He’s a big nature guy and only hunts what he will consume and he’s saved a lot of money that way.

  4. What a great experience. I’m a little envious.

    I have never hunted. My grandparents had chickens and we would go on fox stakeouts whenever too many chickens would go missing. I’ve never caught a fish either. Man, I would not survive a zombie apocalypse.

    We garden, that saved us some money. I thought it was fun too. At least I have some useful post-apocalyptic skill.

  5. Fishing for halibut sounds a lot of fun. I hear that many people do it for the halibut (rimshot!)
    I took our boys on a guided fishing trip a couple years ago, and we came home with bags and bags of catfish fillets. I don’t remember exactly how many, but the price was undoubtedly above market. However, if we just think about the value of the memories, there are plenty of activities where you pay through the nose and you don’t get to come home with delicious organic wild-caught fish.
    When I was a starving college student, I kept fishing tackle in the car. On the way to or from class, depending on schedule, I’d stop off at the reservoir lake and limit out on trout. I’d multi-task by studying while waiting for the fish to bite. I’d do this often enough that the price paid for the fishing license and bait was negligible compared to the value of the fish brought home.

    • Agreed 101 – the price may be above market (though I dont have a good halibut comparison price) but the memories were key. Talking to the deckhands about working on fishing boats all summer, meeting a guy who happened to live 45 min away from me in wyoming on the boat and all of the fishing memories. Much better even though it’s higher cost.
      That’s a great idea for student 101 – the pond on my campus was off limits to fishing 🙁

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