I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pressure canner. It allows me to make cheap bulk dried beans into ready-to-eat canned beans. It also allows us to keep far more meat in food storage than we would be able to, otherwise. I'm not a huge fan of pressure canning vegetables*, but that option is open as well.
Note: I didn't include the cost of canning jars, rings and lids in this analysis. I assume that if you're ready to attempt pressure canning, you've been water bath canning and already have a stockpile of jars/supplies.
Canned meat: The main cost savings with canned meat has to do with energy; you don't have to run a second freezer to store all of your stockpiled bargain/free meat. A vague (and probably too conservative) guess at energy costs for our old freezer is $6.00 per month.
Therefore, our yearly savings for canning meat = $72.00 per freezer of meat.
A bonus of canning meat is that it comes out of the jar already cooked. This energy savings cancels out the energy cost of pressure canning.
Another bonus? If you pressure can bone-in meat (I use free chicken), your jar will have gelatin-rich broth in it, as well as the meat. This is perfect for making soup with. A lot of people mess around with either 1) making broth every week in a crockpot, or 2) making a ginormous pot once a month and freezing it in quart-size freezer bags. If you are one of these people, not only do you have a more crowded freezer, but you've also got to pay for all of those plastic bags and deal with any that bust open. If you freeze broth in glass jars, no doubt you've lost some due to breakage (caused by the expanding liquid). All this can be avoided if you making bone broth by pressure canning.
Canned beans: let's say an average can of navy beans costs $1.00 and holds two cups of cooked beans.
I buy my beans in bulk for $0.79/lb. One pound of dry beans= 2 1/3 cup. There is only 2/3 cup of dried beans in a can of store-bought beans, which means that my home-canned beans only cost about $0.23 per can. Add $0.05 per jar for a canning lid (I use mine at least twice before throwing them away), and the home canned beans cost $0.28 per can, for a cost savings of $0.72 per can.
If we used one pint jar ("can") of beans per week, the yearly savings for canned beans = $37.44. The more beans you eat, the more savings. But I'm just doing calculations for the two of us.
A beany bonus: some people cook a ton of beans in the crock pot, and then freeze them in plastic bags. In addition to using up freezer space and wasting plastic baggies, frozen beans have to be thawed before you can use them. Canned beans only have to be soaked and canned, and then they are ready to eat... forever. No freezer burn. No cooking, no freezing, no thawing, no re-washing plastic freezer bags.
Total yearly canned meat & beans savings: $109.44
Investing in a Pressure Canner & ROI
I bought our pressure canner from Walmart with some leftover wedding money. It is a Presto 16-quart aluminum pressure canner, and still costs only $69.97. As you can see, it will pay itself off in less than a year.
ROI after 1 year of use: $109.44 savings - $69.97 investment = $39.47 NET savings = 56% ROI
After 2 years: $148.91 net savings = 213% ROI
After 3 years: $258.35 = 369% ROI
After 4 years: $367.79 = 525% ROI
After 5 years: $477.23 = 682% ROI
It's hard to determine the exact ROI on this one, because it really depends how much and how long you use the pressure canner. A large family who cans for many years will save THOUSANDS of dollars by purchasing a pressure canner. But even a small family like ours will save enough in just one year to justify the cost. In my opinion, everyone should buy and learn how to use a pressure canner.
What are you missing out on by not having or using a pressure canner? It may cause you to turn down fantastic deals because you don't have enough freezer space or can't eat a large amount of ___ before it goes bad. Pressure canning makes it possible to buy in bulk, even for a small family like ours. Instead of paying $2.00/lb. for chicken, I can pay $0.50/lb at Gordons. Health nuts can grow their own chickens. My point though, is that learning how to use a pressure canner will open up SO many more areas of saving. You will save more money on food by buying in bulk, you'll save $$ by not using disposable 2- or 3- use freezer bags, you'll save energy by not using the freezer, and you'll spend less time cooking and cleaning up after cooking. It's a win, win, win.
We have one refrigerator/freezer combo, and one upright chest freezer to store all of the fruits & veggies that I grow, plus meats and farmers market ingredients. I use pressure canning as my "overflow" method for dealing with meats that don't fit in the freezer. Our freezer space is precious, and I really don't have the time or space to be freezing beans, broth, leftovers, crock-pot meals etc., so pressure canning is the perfect solution for those things. Unlike plastic baggies, canning jars are easy to wash and can be used for years- possibly a lifetime, if you're careful.
One of my goals in life is to save time, space, money and energy. Pressure canning does all of these things, and in some cases, produces a superior product to that which is frozen (tough meats come out of the jar tender, with no gristle). Sometimes I wonder if people would even bother freezing meat and beans if they knew how easy and cheap it was to can them.
*I'm not a fan of pressure canning veggies, because the high temperatures produced during pressure canning can destroy vitamins. Minerals, on the other hand, will stay intact regardless of heat (to the best of my knowledge). Therefore, I freeze any produce with high vitamin content, and can things like meat & beans.