Deciding what and how much to grow can be overwhelming in the beginning. When the gardening catalogues start arriving at my house, I sit down and browse through all of them. Everything looks wonderful.
However, I must remember I'm getting older and just have so much energy so I stick with the basics. First I decide what top 3 vegetables our family eats throughout the winter. Our top 3 items are green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It's a very dreary winter if we don't have these in the pantry waiting to be eaten. Of course the cucumbers I make into pickles, and I can green beans and tomatoes. First I determine how many jars of green beans we use a year. I cook 2 pint green beans twice a week in meals for my husband and I. There are 52 weeks in a year times 2 pints equals 104 pints for use. On holidays we use additional beans since we have 12 people at most dinners. Quart jars are used on those occasions and need an additional 12 jars. I also give our grown children canned green beans so I need 24 more quarts. So I need 104 pints and 36 quarts for a year's supply. This does not include beans I sell at farmers markets.
How many beans do I have to plant to yield enough beans to last us a winter? You can actually go to http://www.google.com and ask. I also purchased a book that's been very helpful named, Mini Farming self-sufficiency on 1/4 acre by Brett L. Markham.
A 10 foot row will yield about 6 pounds of beans per picking. You can probably pick 6 times off that single row for a total of 36 pounds green beans. There are 16 ounces or 1 pound in a pint jar. So you should have around 36 jars canned green beans. I plant 6 rows, each 25 feet long, Spring & Fall.
If you do not have enough garden space to grow what you need, consider container gardening (which I also do), vertical gardening, square foot gardening, purchase at farmers markets, purchase seasonal produce when it goes on sale, and pick your own gardens.
It is also fun to pick a day for canning and invite your friends or ladies groups over to participate. Not only are you providing nutritional food for your family and saving money, but you're making memories and teaching a life skill.