A few years ago once we started gardening at our house I decided to give canning a try. While at first I was very intimidated by the process each year my comfort level leads me to try to grow and can more foods. While the initial start up can cost you a few dollars. Once you have bought your basic canning supplies your upkeep is much less. Most of my supplies are my general cooking supplies, a large stock pot, a couple of sauce pan's and my dishwasher. (I use the dishwasher to keep the jars and lids hot and ready. It is an easier sterilization process then trying to boil everything on the stove)I recommend for people just starting out to get a canning cookbook. I have a great one put out by Ball that teaches you how to can various items, for how long and whether or not you need to use a water bath or pressure cooker.
Your best and cheapest bet is to focus on high acid foods that can be canned using the water bath method. These are recipes that generally contain vinegar and so do not need to be pressure cooked.
If you are going to can and grow a garden now is the time to start picking up seeds and prepping the earth.
This summer I plan to grow green beans, peppers, tomatoes, zuchinni, onions, potatoes and of course cucumbers.
With the cucummbers I make a variety of pickles, sweet, sour, dill, spears, relish etc., I have not had to buy any of those types of goods at the store for years now.
With the green beans we eat them fresh and I will also blanch and freeze many. These can easily store frozen for several months.
Tomatoes are wonderful fresh and there are also many salsa and sauce recipes that you can use the water bath method on.
I also will buy a variety of fruit as it is in season and turn it into a a variety of jams, and freezer jams.
While you can order seeds from catalogs and online I have found your best bet is often the hardware store. If you live near a Menards they have wonderful prices on their seeds, in particular, Burpee seeds which are considered the gold standard when it comes to seeds.
Once canning season gets underway this summer there will be plenty of deals and coupons and sales on jars and preserving supplies. So start prepping and let us know what you plan to grow this year.