Want to learn a cool trick to save money, make fresh veggies last longer and feed yourself and your family in a lockdown? Well, we want to show you how to regrow veggies you buy from the store with just water, a container and a windowsill.
Many years ago, we shared a frugal tip about how we regrow many veggies in water in our kitchen windowsill. We shared this tip to help the grocery budget and to be a little more frugal. This was especially useful for those that want to buy and eat organic as you can buy once and eat organic many times over.
“This was especially useful for those that want to buy and eat organic as you can buy once and eat organic many times over.”
Well, this was nearly 10 years ago and many of our readers over the years have shared how they have loved the tip of regrowing veggies, especially the top three most popular of lettuce, green onions and celery.
So that brings us to 2020 – that’s right, if you are reading in “real time” 2020, then we feel for you right now. We are on day #41 of quarantine at the time of writing this post and we are updating popular topics that we have shared over the past 10 years to save money but that are becoming especially useful for a time of quarantine and surviving 2020!
And if you are reading this outside of 2020 sometime in the future, we assume that life is back to normal and people are gathering information for smart money and frugal moves or even being better prepared for a future pandemic.
Either way…WELCOME to our little online home and we are looking forward to sharing this cool trick with you about regrowing veggies in water in your kitchen to help with the grocery budget, help you survive a quarantine with fresh veggies or to just be less wasteful as a general living practice.
This is also great for any emergency! You often hear about the 72-hour kits (oh yeah, we had the biggest recorded earthquake in the Salt Lake City metropolis in Utah during the 2020 pandemic too, so that just added insult to injury) that many will make to prepare for a natural disaster emergency. But what’s cool is if there is a natural disaster (that’s not the cool part) is that you can raid your fridge immediately and pull out these common veggies (lettuce, green onions and celery) and start regrowing to last the 72-hours to 2-weeks that you may need emergency supply. Another great reason to learn and keep this trick in your back pocket!
Remember that our rule is to have an emergency supply for a minimum of 3 months (who knew how important this would become when we said it 10 years ago!). Again the reasons why are listed in our Be Prepared post HERE.
We are going to primarily focus on the topic of re-growing veggies in this article, but to have an “emergency supply” of fresh veggies, but there are three categories that you can utilize at the same time to have a good supply:
- Regrow Fresh Veggies
- Grow and indoor herb garden (this are relatively quick growing with consumable produce in 14 to 60 days)
- Grow sprouts or microgreens and have fresh veggies in 3-5 days. We talk about that here.
As a reminder, we are going to encourage you to have a “usable now” food storage and be rotating through your bulk supply and learning to use your bulk foods a few times per week (more on all of this later, but having a practical usable bulk food supply is the key to both a healthy frugality and an emergency food supply!) but having proper food storage, even in small spaces where no storage really exists.
So, hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed talking about this like we have. It’s funny, we have been living, doing and preparing like this for a long time now and the whole operation runs so smoothly on a weekly basis here, but then trying to write it all down to share is like “whoa, where do we start!?!” 🙂
It will be fun, practical, thrifty, and provide some security in food preparedness that is used and rotated on a normal basis so that it is not a burden financially, time wise or health wise.
So…. here we go!
#1 – Re-Grow Common Veggies in Your Kitchen with Veggie Scraps
- Always have a fresh supply of produce so that you can have a few days worth in an emergency. These are something that you are eating always anyway, but making sure you are stocked and rotating through the oldest first is a good way to have a supply. Here’s the list of veggies you can regrow:
- Bok choy
- Green onions
- Lettuce and heading vegetables such as Napa cabbage
- Have many veggies on your weekly/bi-weekly shopping list that can re-grow from the cut off scraps. This way, if there is an emergency, you can immediately use that fresh produce item and then re-grow from the cut off scraps in your kitchen and have a fresh supply. We actually do this with many foods anyway to save money. In our experience, most of these will only regrow a few times before they really aren’t great anymore…. but this will get you to 2-3 weeks worth. So what foods are we talking about? These ones should be on your list always:
- Lettuce – especially Romaine, Green Leaf and Red Leaf – just learn to make your own salads weekly with buying heads of lettuce, pick affordable ones to stay in budget, but grab one head of lettuce to always have and include in your salads! Not only is this cheaper to make your own salads with just a few minutes each week vs. the pre-cut and bagged salads, but you will give yourself a fresh lettuce option in an emergency. How? Well, the stems of lettuce can be re-grown in your kitchen (even in a recycled sour cream or cottage cheese container!). – You can also do this with Bok Choy and Fennel, but let’s be honest, those things would be hard to keep on hand and use weekly -we don’t like fennel! 😉
- Green Onions and Other Onions (including leeks!) – we shared a while ago how we re-grow our green onions. It’s very simple and pretty much any onion can be re-grown in your kitchen this way. For regular onions, just cut of the ends where the dry roots are and place that face down in shallow water and you have fresh onions of all types! Onions are already on most people’s weekly shopping list anyway, just regrow in an emergency. Onions are also a super item to have for health purposes! They are a super food for your body and so essential during emergencies!
- Regrow the bottoms of your celery! Buy the full stalk each week that gives you the bottom and gives you the option to re-grow in your kitchen (or start in your kitchen and plant outside later). Either way, celery is a common veggie and a good one to make sure to always have on your list so that you can get more from one!
- One of our favorites is regrowing Garlic! Garlic is another one of those super important super foods for your body and is a perfect source of nutrition in tough times and in pandemics (plus it also helps with social distancing – if you catch our whiff…)! These are re-grown similarly to the onions! Do it yourself site shares how to do this!
How to Regrow Veggie Scraps
It’s actually quite simple to regrow the veggie scraps. In addition to the links we shared in the section above, we thought we would give you an overall quick summary that works with pretty much all of the above.
- Cut the veggies off until about 1-2 inches above the base.
- Soak the bottom of the veggie in water in a container or jar – even recycling cottage cheese/sour cream containers works perfectly. You want the top exposed to air, so just enough water to cover the base.
- Place in a windowsill and watch it grow!
- Cut off the edible parts as they grow and use them.
- Replace the water about every 2-3 days.
- You can “regrow” for a few times before you need to replace your veggie with a new one. You will be able to tell when the regrowth is just not that great anymore = indicates start all over.
Even though we are focusing on the Regrowing Veggie Scraps, we want to mention two more ideas for fresh veggie supply.
#2 – Grow a windowsill herb garden
Consider having seeds or an on-going windowsill herb garden. Herbs are super foods too, they will not fill you up, but fresh herbs can be so vital and important in any emergency and then you have some immediate options! Herb gardens are easy to grow, easy to maintain and do not take long! They are a great addition to your prepared staple foods for an extra boost of needed nutrition. Growing an herb garden is quite common, so we probably do not need to go into much more detail at this point, but you can head to the Bonnie Plants site here where they will give you instructions!
#3 – Have a counter top sprout farm
UPDATE: We created an entire article just on sprouting because it became a popular topic fast! Read the full article on How to Sprout HERE.
If you want an even better plan, consider sprouting! We have been sprouting for everyday health and nutritional benefits anyway, but it is a FANTASTIC emergency food supply plan. This should be an article all it’s own, but for now, it is an easy thing to store, and you can start sprouts and have a very nutritious fresh produce option in 2-5 days! You can get a good supply of sprouting seeds for a good price. Special sprouting jars can be purchased for about $5 in a health food stores (we show other options below)! Sprouting is one of our top recommendations! SERIOUSLY LOOK INTO THIS!!
You can get a whole emergency kit sprout farm that will sustain a family with 55 lbs total of 10 different sprout seeds for $297 (this is actually not a bad price):
- Green Lentils
- Green Peas
- Black-eyed Peas
- Mung Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
This big emergency fresh food supply kit will yield over 200 lbs of fresh sprouts and the food is available in 2-5 days! This is really, really smart. But this big kit might be horribly overwhelming to you, but don’t let that stop you from doing something to provide you and your family with fresh, vital nutrition. We wanted to share the big kahuna idea, but let’s talk about budget options!
Now, here’s how you can get started sprouting or have them in your pantry or food storage for those emergencies:
- Mason Jars (the official ones) used for about .25-.50 or new for about .75 each
- Then you need the straining sprouting lids that you can get at health food stores or on Amazon HERE for around $15 for 3 different lids that all serve a different purpose for your sprouted seeds. The reviews are excellent and a good way to go!
- Then you can buy the sprouting seeds either on Amazon or at health food stores for around $5 for about a 1/2 pound. This is a really good price and so anywhere in this range is good!
For under $30, you can have a nice supply of seeds and sprouting jars to get you through a short time period. You can see many sprouting supply options on Amazon HERE.
We personally believe in this sprouting option as both the immediate, intermediate and long-term fresh food option, that it is worth getting enough sprouting seeds, jars and lids to start a batch a day for your family for many months in an emergency. That is why having enough seeds to produce 200+ pounds of sprouts is a wise investment and can solve your fresh produce options for any stage and any emergency. Plus, sprouting seeds are super easy to store, they take hardly any room and they will store for a long time. But eating sprouts and micro-greens is very healthy anyway, so use them every once in a while to make a batch for health and rotate through!
Perhaps consider investing $10 a month in sprouting seeds to eventually have enough in storage for 100 – 200 lbs. of fresh sprouts (depending on family size) and then rotate through and eating them with salads, sandwiches or by themselves on a regular basis for those super nutritious benefits now. Plus, by using them now and rotating/refilling as needed, when that actual emergency hits, you will already know what to do!
So there’s our tips for you and your family to have fresh produce options in the immediate and intermediate emergencies.
Here’s a quick summary and review of what to do at this point to be preparing your fresh food sources on a tight budget!
Each time you grocery shop, include these 4 veggie items on your shopping list. Nearly every home should include these on their shopping lists and incorporate into cooking. I see no reason (other than allergies, but I haven’t heard of anyone being allergic to any of these!) why you can’t! Buy sustainable food and buy smart!
- Heads of lettuce (re-grow by cutting of end and submerging tip in shallow water)
- Green onions and onions (re-grow by cutting off end with dry roots and submerging in shallow water)
- Stalk of celery (re-grow by cutting of end and submerging in shallow water)
- Garlic (re-grow by dividing cloves in bulb and set aside until they sprout. Once sprouted, plant in shallow soil in a reusable container and place in wind0w)
Next, work on having a supply of fresh herb seeds (you can do this for under $10) in case you need them, or just start using fresh herbs in your cooking and growing them now!
Finally, invest $10 a month in sprouting options by buying the lids, finding mason jars around your home, and buying sprouting seeds. Store all of these in a box together with easy access so that you can find everything you need quickly and easily in an emergency. Start sprouting in a couple of months once you start getting a supply and keep building it up!
We hope we have shared some easy and unique ideas to get you prepared on a budget. We want to know your thoughts on this topic too, please share!
For the next topic regarding emergency supply, we recommend learning about water options.
We first talked about water as this is a MUST in any emergency! But food is pretty much just as essential. Food is a giant topic and we have been trying to decide how to break this down with ideas on how to be prepared with food! Btw – if you haven’t seen our introductory article to this topic, we recommend that you read that first here.
See the full Be Prepared Series, Articles and Topics for many tips and ideas in all areas of life!
Did you include Chia Seeds in your list of important foods to have on hand? I didn’t see them in my reading of this, but they are so full of protein and satiety value I wondered if you thought they’d be good to have on hand. And you can add coconut or almond milk, soak, add berries (dried or frozen) and have a yummy dessert or breakfast.
I didn’t include it above, but that is a perfect addition. And Chia Seeds store forever!! Thank you for including that idea! We use Chia a few times per week and so we share savings ideas to grab them for less: https://thethriftycouple.com/2013/06/06/tummy-slimming-and-belly-fat-burning-smoothie-recipe-and-tips-to-make-it-for-less/
I never knew those lentils I have (I have always kept beans and lentils around for those times when I didn’t have money for food, and it happens) were for sprouts!! I just found out about a month ago so I gave it a try and yippy!! I didn’t have a kit so I used a quart canning jar and rubber banded a cheesecloth over it. And now I know about Chia seeds (not just for fuzzy pets I guess) Thank you so much for your posts!!
Thank you for sharing the idea about the cheesecloth! That’s a great idea!! Who knew that those fuzzy fake pets were so healthy 🙂 It’s really only been the last couple of years that they have become widely known for their massive health benefits!
Are Chia Seeds on your list of must-have foods? They weren’t mentioned, and I was wondering whether you agreed that having some on hand would be a driving directions good idea, given how high in protein and filling they are. You may soak them in coconut or almond milk, then add berries (dried or frozen) for a delicious dessert or brunch.
Do the veggies that you regrow – celery, onions, lettuce – do they need to be in window light? And just to clear – the root is in the water? or is it turned upside down so the root end is out?
Thanks! Never knew any of this, my son will love trying these ideas.
I actually just have them on the counter… sometimes in the window, but I close my blinds at night and have a little ledge on my window and so they often just hang out “near” the window and seem to grow fine. And yes, you are just submerging the roots in shallow water. Not submerging the whole veggie. The roots are how the water enters and causes the veggies to re-grow. If the roots dry out, they will just die and rot 🙂
I’ve always meant to thank you for this idea years ago for regrowing veggie scraps. I currently have a raised wall garden on my porch where I have planted celery bottoms, onion roots and garlic, which I continually use to supplement my meals. I believe you posted it for emergency food supply way back when and I just planted it for fun, not knowing it would really come in handy some day. Well some day is now, during this pandemic and I am thankful to have learned this from you. Todays blog taught me that I could do the same with lettuce (this was a new one for me), which I will now add to my garden. Gardening is my stress reliever and I feel fortunate to have read your articles. Thanks again for all you do. Stay safe.
This was nearly ten years ago, and many of our readers have commented how much they appreciated the idea of regrowing vegetables, particularly the top dordle three most popular of lettuce, green onions, and celery.
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Some of my local supermarkets have started to stock a couple different kinds of lettuce with the root balls still attached. While they cost a bit more than harvested lettuce to begin with, you save money in the long run, because you can eat off of them for a couple months if you take care of them, instead of buying a new head of lettuce every week.
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Is this water growing possible at any time of the year or season specific? And are needed any sort of particular nutrients or can we start with just the process you shared with us? I have never tried this water growing with veggies, so I’m excited to go with my first water veggie grow!!
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