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).
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.
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.