10 Easy Ways to Cut Costs in the Kitchen

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These days, everyone is looking to cut costs…I’m always looking where to save money and cut costs, so I like this turn of events.  Makes me seem more popular. Ha! I’ve been asked exactly how I operate in the kitchen to keep costs down and keep my budget on target.  It’s really not that hard, it just takes a bit of thought and effort. I’m going to give you 10 easy ways that you can cut costs in your kitchen too. Chances are, you’re already doing most of these things but you just haven’t thought of them as being “frugal.” You may just need to change your mindset.

1. Use leftovers. This is almost like a “daily duh” that I post on Facebook, but you’d be surprised at how many people just don’t use their leftovers. They make too much for dinner, put the rest in the fridge and it stays in there until it grows mold. That’s money down the drain. Make plans for those leftovers – they make a great next-day lunch. If your family hates leftovers, freeze what you have left and bring it out again later for a “new” meal. Trickery works sometimes.

2.  Buy a reusable coffee filter. This doesn’t seem like a big money saver, but if you drink large amounts of coffee, this will save you a bundle. They’re good for years and years! And you never have to worry about running out of filters. You’ll pay less than $5 for a reusable coffee filter – you can find them at Target or at just about any grocery store. And if all else fails, Amazon is there for you.

3. Use cloth napkins and huck towels. Get rid of all the paper stuff in your kitchen. Really. It’s just something that you have to keep buying over and over and over and over. Isn’t that annoying? It is to me…and I hate running out of stuff I need. I love my cloth napkin collection and they are elegant and cheap. You can cut out a lot of paper towel usage by buying a set of huck towels and using them over and over (after washing, of course).

Image by chatiryworld

4. Cut out most canned foods – make your own. All those canned soups and other canned convenience foods are adding up on your receipt. Yes, you got them on sale. That’s okay. You can make your own at home for a fraction of the cost and then freeze them to have on hand when you need them. Bingo. You just have to make a little extra time for them – time is money. Check out this easy Cream of Chicken Soup and you won’t look back to the canned stuff.

5. Use a toaster oven. This one almost seems silly – but it’s true that it costs less to run a toaster oven than your big oven. I use mine all the time. If it broke today, I’d go out tonight and get a new one – I love it that much. Save up and purchase one – or keep your eyes peeled at garage sales. I see them regularly there.

6. Clean up with white vinegar.  Some of you are going to snicker at this, but seriously…I love white vinegar. I’m preaching its usefulness all the time! I use it to clean just about everything…and it’s cheap.  Clean up after that meat with white vinegar and quit buying all that silly disinfectant stuff.

7. Use tough meat in the crock pot. This might be a revelation, but tough cuts of meat at the grocery store are cheaper than filet mignon. Really, it’s true. Buy a tough cut of meat and slow cook it all day – it will turn into a thing of beauty. Who needs filet? Okay, so I love a good filet…but my pocketbook doesn’t. This Cajun Roast works great with just about any cut of beef.

Image by sarae

8. Use cash for groceries.  I’m a big fan of the cash budget system. It’s a proven fact that you spend less money if you use cash instead of cards – even a debit card. If you get your grocery money out in cash, you’re more likely to stick to your budget – and you might even find yourself spending less. It makes you think twice before buying that filet…do you really want to cut your budget that close?

9. Buy in season and freeze/can. I was raised with this mindset. My parents still farm, so it’s a way of life around here. You plant enough corn to harvest and last all year. If you don’t garden or have a small garden – you can still freeze and can what you DO harvest. Or buy in bulk at the farmer’s market in season. It’s perfectly reasonable that fresh green beans are cheaper in August than they are in January. Look into buying a used chest freezer. It’ll be one of your best investments of all time.

10. Meal Plan. I’m not meal planning right now for two obvious reasons. 1. I’m in the process of moving and have packed up a lot of my stuff.  2. I’m going to live with my parents while we’re waiting to move into our new home (eventually), so I’m limited. But, when you meal plan you save a ton of money. It keeps you from eating out and it also gives you a plan for eating what you have stocked at home.

So, there you have it. Are you using all of these already? If not, pick just one and start today. Let me know about it in the comments so I can keep you accountable.

*This post is linked at Barn Hop #50 at Homestead Revival, at Works For Me Wednesday on We Are That Family, at Simple Lives Thursday on GNOWFGLINS, at Hearth and Soul Blog Hop at Penniless Parenting, and at Fat Tuesday on Real Food Forager.


Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her two children, Annie (June 2009) and Andy (August 2012). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy

    I had never heard of huck towels before. I may have to invest in some of them. Right now, I have a plan to turn my old burp rags (the kind that look like old-fashioned cloth diapers) into “paper towels” that snap together like the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest. i don’t know if it will work or not, but I’m going to try.

    • Stacy

      If it works, you should post about it!

  • Kathy

    oh were you able to sell your house? How exciting!

    btw are you any kin to the folks at Walker’s market in Seven Mile Ford? I used to go with my Mom to buy bushels of green beans to can…great people!

    • Stacy

      :-) That’s my family – that was my Uncle Harold.
      No, we didn’t sell the house yet, but we do have an interested party.

  • Kay

    I would love to just use cloth napkins. I can’t gt the hubby and kids on board. I’ll keep trying.

    In high school I learned to decorate huck towels with Swedish embroidery.
    http://www.embroidery-methods.com/huck-embroidery-patterns.html
    I still use the towels. They are pretty much worn out. I need to make some more. These towels are super absorbent.

    • Stacy

      Wow! I bet those are pretty….wish I could embroider.

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace

    We do much of the same. Great tips! I had actually not thought of the fact that a slow cooker will make a great “steak.” What a revelation! Sometimes, a girl just wants a cut of meat. Ya’ hear what I’m sayin’?

    • Stacy

      I looooooooooooooooooooove meat.

  • http://www.heathersblog-o-rama.blogspot.com Heather :) :) :)

    These are good tips, and I’m going to check out that link on the cash budget system.

    Hey, was it on your blog I read something about Dave Ramsey? I like to listen to his radio show from time to time. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that!!

    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;)

  • http://naturalparentingunnaturalworld.blogspot.com Sarah

    Great tips! I just got back started with our cash budget, and it’s helping a lot. I really need to get some more cloth napkins and some huck towels, though!

    • Stacy

      Ooooooh! Cash budgets make me happy. :-)

  • http://christianmommyblogger.com Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger

    I do these! Well, except for the toaster oven. We had one. Anthony tried to throw it out the window EVERY TIME it took 5 minutes to toast a piece of bread. Yes, Toaster ovens are great for everything but, well, toast.

    • Stacy

      Ha, ha! That’s funny. I don’t think mine takes 5 minutes. :-) But, it does take longer…doesn’t bother me though. :-)

  • http://nerdymomspeaks.blogspot.com/ Holly

    I’m loving your list! We do all of that, except that we use a French Press coffee pot, no filter needed. I have an extensive collection of kitchen towels that I use constantly. I’m always surprised by people who use paper all the time! It drives me crazy, it feels like throwing away money.

    • Stacy

      I’ve been wanting to switch to a French Press….can you recommend one?

      • Ima Thims

        Hey Stacy,
        I followed a pin from Pinterest to your site. Very informative. I decided to try a french press because I have a small kitchen and counter space is premium. Who doesn’t prefer less clutter? Plus, it takes very little space in a cabinet when not in use. So I looked at a few different brands before settling on the Mr Coffee. The Mr Coffee had the finest mesh filter. I had concerns about how much grounds might end up in my cup, so on the first use I didn’t drink the last bit of the liquid. I poured it into a clear glass and didn’t see any large grounds, so then I poured it through a paper towel and only the absolute finest coffee “dust” was left.

        I used to drink coffee from the communal coffee pot at work, but providing coffee, sugar and creamer every week was too much hassle and money. Now I enjoy the best coffee every morning. I use filtered water and for now I am using up the rest of my pre-ground coffee. It is easy to use and it makes enough for me to enjoy 1 cup at home plus fills the insulated “to go” cup for me to take to work. The oils from the coffee beans are not filtered out giving a much “coffeeier” taste. Plus I use less coffee per cup since the flavor is so robust. I plan on trying to grind my own beans and I bet that will require even less coffee per cup since it is so fresh. The only negative is getting the used grounds out can be messy. Hop this helps!

        • Stacy

          Well that sounds fabulous! :-) I have a press on my wish list now, and a coffee grinder too. I’m just going to work through my current coffee and save up some Swagbucks before I take the plunge….you make me want a cup right now!

  • http://nerdymomspeaks.blogspot.com/ Holly

    I like the brand Bodum. They make good quality products. I wish I hadn’t smashed our good one, I bought a cheaper one and you can’t remove the glass insert. It makes cleaning it a pain. Plus, when it breaks, you have to replace the whole contraption instead of the just the glass.

    • Stacy

      Thanks! I’ll check that out on Amazon!

  • http://www.threewolftrading.bigcartel.com Beth

    Great tips! Is it alright if I print this off and share it at my Family Readiness Group meeting next weekend? I am going to attempt to teach them the Frugal Way! Next week will be Menu Planning and Kitchen Frugal!

    • Stacy

      Beth, you just go right ahead! That would tickle me pink! :-)

  • Jai

    I love white vinegar too!! I use it to clean anything and everything. I haven’t heard of huck towels before but I will check them out. We seldom buy paper towels but when we do we go through them like wild fire! Just the other day a friend told me, “I didn’t have anyone to help me out when I was your age w/ a brood of kids, when someone offers you something, you should just accept it!”. It’s kind of hard to tell her that I really don’t use them becuase I don’t like them! I prefer using regular towels for messy fingers & such. It’s like cloth diapers, I don’t have to keep on buying something to just throw it away after its dirty!! Oh, and cloth is so much easier on skin!! I’m so glad I found your blog!!

    I like exclamation points, can you tell? :)

    • Stacy

      Ohhhh, you’re a butt fluff lovin’ mama? SO GLAD to meet you for sure! :-) We really do have much in common.

  • http://www.HassiesKitchenandGarden.com Faylee

    No fancy cloth napkins for me, I bought a multi-pack of wash cloths and use them for everyday napkins. They are sturdy when using, wash up great and in most cases they are cheap. I normally get them at the Dollar General Store.

    • Stacy

      Smart lady! :-)

  • http://thepinkchefla.com Stephanie

    Vinegar is a great cleaning product but I hate the smell it leaves so a way to fix that is to put white vinegar in a glass jar filled with either lemon or orange peels and let them soak for ten days and the finished product is orange or lemon smelling vinegar thats just as good for cleaning! just an idea!

    • Stacy

      Yep! We do that too. :-) I don’t mind the smell though because it seems to evaporate so quickly.

  • Nichole

    Not sure how you could save a bundle on coffee filters, they are very cheap.
    Maybe 5 dollars for a years supply of filters.

    • Stacy

      It’s not really a HUGE bundle I’m saving with filters…just a bit here and there and it adds up to a bundle. :-) We drink a lot of coffee. I paid $4.50 for mine and I’ve already used it for over two years – so it’s definitely paid for itself.

  • http://www.raisingthegangourway.com tiffany moulton

    When you use your disposable napkins do you use them for such things as bacon and sausages? I cook my husband bacon every morning and when we dont have paper towel or napkins I use coffee filters to absorb the extra grease. I know! Kinda a money sucker there. I’ve tried paper free before but the bacon always leads me back to buying paper towels:(

    • Stacy

      I always tell people that I use paper towels for two things: cleaning up grease and cleaning up puke. LOL

  • Heidi

    I was wondering if you had any suggestions for the pet owner for towels. I’m afraid to use huck towels because they will come out of the dryer with at least one pet hair I’m sure. I don’t want to pat my meat down with that, you know?

    Thanks.

    • Stacy

      I have a dog that sheds like crazy….so she just has her own stash of towels and I wash them separately – with her doggy bed. :-)

  • http://twochicsandablog.wordpress.com Crystal

    You have some great tips for cutting costs. I have never heard of Huck towels. I’m going to google those right now. I love my toaster oven and use it all the time. Pretty much the only time I use the big oven is when I have a cake to decorate.

    • Stacy

      My toaster oven and I are tight. :-)

  • Craftyvron

    Have found your web site from Pinterest and find it facinating and informative.

    One thing I always find difficult with recipies from the States is that unlike the UK, most ingredients seem to come in a bottle, tin,packet or jar.

    For me, I find it’s saves money and time to buy as many of my spices (we love Indian food)as possible in seed form. They stay fresh for just about forever and when you grind them (I use an old coffee grinder bought in a sale) you really get the fresh smell and flavour. Just grind enough for one to four curries or dishes and you will always have that fresh touch.

    Also loved the comment on using face clothes for napkins. In the past I’ve used the small ‘guest’ towels that really are not a lot larger than a face towel. Will start looking out for the face clothes now as they are much cheaper and come in so many colours.

    Thanks for all the tips and recipies.

    • Stacy

      Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. :-) And thanks for posting the spices tip!

  • Ellee

    One of my aunts is “crafty” and has made cloth napkins for craft fairs and other things & has given us a lot of the leftovers. They seem to be made with regular cotton fabric & really last a long time (we’ve had some of them for 6 years! – though we do have multiple sets).

    Another tip that I’ve found going along with the canning/freezing when in season, asking the farmers at the farmer’s market for their non-salable tomatoes or apples (e.g.) can really help cut costs. There’s often blemished fruit that they can’t sell, but can give away & they might make a deal – buy 10 lbs at this price, & I’ll give you another 30 for free (or whatever). Doesn’t always work, but there’s no harm in asking.

    And if neighbors have fruit trees (I’m in Washington & in the fall they’re VERY obvious), ask them if they need help picking! There’s often too many for one family to use up – just from a single tree! I am planning to be more bold this fall in this regard – with 2 small children, we just eat way too much fruit for me not to!

    • Stacy

      We eat a ton of fruit around here too. :-) We have an apple and pear tree in our back yard, but the deer like them just as good as we do. ;-)

  • Jerry D.

    I do all except the coffee filter and toaster oven. Have been seriously thinking of both. Meal planning and making from scratch versus canned is my biggest saver. Oops and paying cash, almost forgot. You actually can feed a family of 7 on $350 a month, I do it. I would have NEVER thought you can get by for $50 a person. Also, love borax for my counters.

    • Stacy

      I love my toaster oven. For real. I use it multiple times a day!

    • http://www.mcnairsfourheirs.blogspot.com Audrey

      Jerry, I would love some advice on feeding your family of 7 on $350. Our grocery budget is my biggest challenge. We have 4 young boys, and another boy on the way. And, they eat a LOT. As much as I try, I spend way more than I want to on groceries. I would love some help!!

  • Sarah

    *Duh* moment with the soup!! I love it! I haven’t bought paper towels in months, I love it, husband is partial. We’ve just used wash cloths so far.

    • Stacy

      I use paper towels to clean up dog puke. LOL

  • Jo

    Hi

    My toaster set my houses on fire so we living in kind of a semi war zone. I have stuff in my freezer one pot to my name rest have been taken to cleaners along with most of house. Do u have any suggestions on how youbtrybmixing and matching frozen stuff to make edible but simple meals everything is such a mess and I have my folks living with me two cause they poorly so it’s two if them my foster son and hubby! I’ve been following you for awhile but its trying to make receives with a stuff we have and stop folks and hubby being fussy!!! X

    • Stacy

      How scary!

  • http://instantmoneynetwork.com/krystaljohnson8911 Krystal Johnson

    Thank you for this list, within the next few months I’m going to try everything, but for now I think I’ll start with number 10. I have tons of canned food stocked up in a variety of different things, fruit, veggies, chili, soup, tuna, chicken, etc., yet we rarely eat them and they just kind of keep building up every month. It’s not that we don’t like canned food, just since we live down the street from Taco Bell it’s always so much easier, lol. I just definitley need to make more of an effort of planning. If I where to plan meals, I think I’m more likely to start cooking dinner every night. ^_^

    • Stacy

      Oh goodness! I LOVE MEAL PLANNING!! Make sure to check out Plan to Eat. It’s what I use and I really love it.

  • MaryLena Anderegg

    First: I do not have leftovers at my house. I either have “delayed second helpings” (what remained from another meal but has different sides) or “related meals” (using a leftover as the base of a new dish).
    For example: a delayed second helping would be serving corned beef as the meat for the second night in a row. Since there is only two of us now, that’s sometimes necessary. The first night, I would serve with a member of the cabbage family and carrots. The next night, I serve it with a baked potato and salad.
    An example of a related meal would be serving ratatouille over spaghetti noodles one night with garlic toast and salad. The next night, what ever was left of the sauce is pureed, perked up with some fresh spices and then used as a sauce in which the chicken breast is cooked.
    When I have “delayed second helpings” or “related meals”, it is because I planned it that way. That’s because we have been on a heart healthy diet for 30 years! Every meal: no more meat that 4-6 oz of lean meat, green vegie, carb. Red meat, 1 egg, 1 pork serving: twice a month. Fried foods are done in canola oil ONLY and limited to three times a month.

    • Stacy

      “Delayed second helpings.” That’s awesome. :-)

  • Stacy

    I prefer the Black and Decker brand. :-) It’s what I’ve always used – my Mama too.

  • Elle Tee

    I’m in Australia. What is a toaster oven?