Top Kitchen Hacks to Save Money
If you are trying to get your finances in order, budgeting in the kitchen is often one of the first places to start. Fortunately, I lived with my grandmother on a few occasions and while I was initially irritated by what seemed to be crushing austerity, I soon learned that her frugal lessons were golden.
This lady literally helped me pay down tons of student loan debt and purchased my first three cars for me! She was a retired widow on a fixed income, but she knew how to make her money stretch and work for herself and the people she loved. I am honored that she took time to teach me so much including how to be a boss over your grocery budget. Check out these old-school kitchen habits that could help whittle down one of your biggest expenses.
1) DIY Recipes
I’m amazed at how many people have never cooked their own meat for lunch meat or made their own bread. The costs savings for doing these things can be significant, not to mention the control you have over the ingredients that go into your recipes. Things like store-bought salad dressing can cost more per ounce than a nice bottle of wine!
There are so many things you can cook from scratch including:
- Salad dressing
- Alfredo sauce
- Taco seasoning
- Spaghetti sauce
These are just a few things that you probably pay way too much for and could easily make from scratch.
Have you ever bought a huge bag of greens that you just knew you would eat? I mean, you did just re-start your diet last Monday, right? Well if you are anything like the rest of us, you’ll likely spend the whole week watching the precious greens go to waste. Bananas? Milk? Forget about it! Don’t fret, there is an easy solution to preserving these items: freezing. There are different methods to freezing things like herbs, greens and fruits, but it’s worth a few minutes of research to save your hard-earned dough (pun intended as dough actually freezes quite well!) Check out this list of items you can freeze to get going.
3) Advanced Meal Prep and Cooking in Bulk
Cooking in bulk is a time-honored tradition for both singles and families. Remember when mom made too much tuna casserole? It was so yummy, but no one could eat more than a plateful. Well, mom didn’t get mad. She got even! She simply bagged it up and threw it in the freezer to be resurrected at a point in time when you forgot how awful, I mean tasty, the first batch was. There are ways to take this to the extreme.
4) Brew Your Own Beverages
Are you one of those people who buys the fancy bottled drinks for up to $4 a pop? Stop it! Got lemons? Got sugar? Well, you got lemonade! For pennies per gallon, you can brew your own ice tea, kombucha or ice coffee.
Pinterest will bedazzle you with millions of ideas for fruit infused water recipes. Make these beverages in bulk and bottle them on your own when you are on the go. Better yet, get out your little crusty coffee pot and brew a 5 cent cup of Joe on your own!
We are big fans of the Keurig system and the reusable K-Cups because you can still get that fancy coffee feeling without spending big.
5) Go Meatless
Even if you’ve never professed the Catholic faith, you surely remember meatless Fridays. After awhile of this predictable, yet common religious practice, the world about us began to preemptively offer meatless options like pepper and egg sandwiches along with fish fry Fridays. Although a dated tradition, you can still learn something. Taking a break from meat and saving a few dollars in your grocery budget could never be a bad thing.
Don’t buy tupperware again! Use those containers from Chinese take out and other store bought items to store food. Plastic baggies can be used again and again (be sure to observe food safety practices!) My dear old granny even spread out paper towels in the dish rack for re-use! To her, almost nothing was off limits in the recycle game.
Reduce your usage of things that you can really do without. Try a filterless coffee maker or forgo paper towels. (We actually gave up paper towels while we were getting out of debt.) Why buy garbage bags when those little grocery bags will do? (Ideal for smaller trash receptacles but you get the point.)
8) Grow Stuff
Before urban agriculture was all the rage, my granny had a garden where she grew carrots, onions, strawberries squash and greens. She would freeze or can the excess and use it throughout the year. You can even do weird things like grow your own vegetables in water: lettuce, bean sprouts and scallions do quite well on the countertop with little more than water and sunlight.
This is a great list of kitchen hacks, but take it easy to start. Pick just a few doable things and add more as you have the time and energy! Happy saving!
Need more help budgeting and saving money? Get a free eBook on budgeting, 21 Days to a Better Budget. This is a neat collaboration written by 11 personal finance bloggers (myself included) on effective budgeting for financial freedom!