Making and Canning a Whole Bunch of Homemade Salsa For Dirt Cheap

When I went to the grocery store and saw tomatoes being sold at 10 cents a pound, I didn't know how long the sale would last, if this was just a one or two day sale, or longer term. Since they were so cheap, I wanted to take advantage of the price, and buy more than just a few days worth. But how? If you leave tomatoes too long in the fridge, they will spoil (I've thrown out way too many spoiled tomatoes than I'd like to admit)... But not buying a lot just felt like a waste of the sale.

I decided that I would make homemade salsa, since peppers were also a good price at 50 cents a pound and onions were also 10 cents a pound. I try to keep a supply canned salsa in my house since I really love it with chips, and also with tacos, but making it each time is a pain... so I often end up buying a jar of salsa, which is definitely not a frugal purchase locally, at about $4.25 for a 15.5 oz (439 g) jar of Chi-chi's salsa. I knew that homemade salsa is a fraction of the cost, even when prices aren't this ridiculously low. So I knew that I'd be making some and it would be a very frugal move.

I had plans to can pineapple (more on that later) in addition to this salsa. But after cooking the salsa, I asked my son to jar up the salsa (since I had to leave the house) and he told me that he used up every single one of my jars by filling them. That didn't seem right, since I had a lot of jars. But I ended up with more salsa than I thought I did. 23 jars!

No, they are not all the same size, so I don't know exactly how many oz of salsa I made to compare to the store bought stuff. However, some of the jars are 3 times the size of the Chichi's jar, some are 1.5 to 2 times the size, and 5 are a little bit smaller... So lets just say that, at the very least, its the amount of 23 jars of Chichi's salsa. But probably more like 30. All shelf stable.

I canned these jars up using the water bath canning method in this post, though now I fortunately have jar tongs and a few other large pots so I can can a bunch of things at the same time, which makes things much faster. 

How much did it cost? 

For my salsa I used:

15.5 lbs of tomatoes, which cost $3.20.

Bell peppers- a mix of green and red- cost me $6.01 for 11.85 lbs.

I didn't find the type of hot peppers I usually use (I have no idea what they're called, to be honest), but I found other peppers that cost $1.68 for a small package... but they were very spicy, so that small package was enough for the large amount. 

I used at most 3 lbs of onions which cost $0.30.

I used a package of cilantro that cost me $0.95.

I used less than half a bottle, so about $0.85 worth of lemon juice.

I used half a head of garlic (I would have used more but I didn't have any more garlic that wasn't all dried and shriveled up which would cost at most $0.25.)

Lastly, the amount of salt in it is so negligible I'm not even going to bother to write it down.

Total for my salsa? 


That averages out to $0.57 cents a jar. Which is 7.5 times cheaper than store bought. Or to put it this way...

This many jars would cost $97.75 dollars. Instead of my $13.21.

See why it's worth it?

What is your favorite brand of salsa, or do you make yours from scratch? Hot, medium, or mild? Ever can salsa? Or anything else? For this price and savings, would you find this worth the work?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. That's a good idea! I can't wait for the tomatoes being very low priced again so I can make lots of condiments and sauces to can.

    Your salsa seems to be quite similar to Tunisian shakshuka, a pepper/onion/tomato sauce. (yes, real shakshuka doesn't have eggs in it.). When we say "salsa", we mean pasta sauce though- it's a bit confusing with similar names for different foods!

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