A friend of mine once said to know how to save money in the kitchen is key to a comfortable and successful life. I tend to believe her, the kitchen is the center of every household around the world and how you work in the kitchen and spend money in it will determine your household budget and lifestyle. Over the years I came up with these money-saving tips, they probably not new but simple enough that we can forget them from time time. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, but how do you spend it and on what.
Money saving tip #1 – Cook From Scratch
A lot of food helpers on the grocery store shelves are just there for companies to make money. They don’t have any nutritional value, they are full of salt and sugar and come with a lot of packaging. I don’t really see the point in them. Your dish will taste better and will have more nutrition if you use simple ingredients and cook from scratch. Things that I never buy or rarely buy are pasta sauces, hamburger helpers, and mac and cheese boxes. All of these can be made easily with fresh ingredients or a mix of fresh and frozen with way less sugar and salt and way more nutritional value. And of course with a fracture of the cost.
Money saving tip #2 – Dehydrate Herbs
This is a no brainer. I’ve started dehydrating herbs when I started gardening mostly out of necessity because I hated to throw out perfectly good mint just because I had just too many of them growing in my garden. The result was amazing, the smell and taste of the mints I dehydrated myself compared to the store-bought was not comparable. And it wasn’t that hard, I just had to cut the mint and wash it lay it on a towel to air dry and then slowly get dehydrated. After a few weeks, they become crunchy enough that you can crush them and put them in a jar (that hopefully, you reused from a store-bought something 🙂 )
Here is a trick, I use one of our fresh salad bags to dehydrate the herbs after they dry enough but not crunchy I transfer them to the fresh bags and hang them somewhere airy, it’s just there until I need it.
I don’t plant every herb that I use but every time I buy a fresh herb that I’m not going to use up completely instead of letting them go bad I dehydrate them. Having a homemade dried herb will reduce the need of buying the all different seasonings that are available. Let’s face it all those seasonings are nothing but a mix of different dried herbs and salt and maybe pepper. Google the seasoning ingredient and mix up your own. If dehydrating herbs is not your thing, buying individual dried herbs will still save you money over buying the seasoning itself. You can work with the individual hers way better mixing them to create your own seasoning, adding them to your pasta sauces, dressings, and marinades will add so much flavour to your dish.
Money saving tip #3 – Use The Freezer
Buy family packs or stock up when there is a sale, then freeze the extras for later use. We do this a lot with meat and poultry. We normally buy family packs or more than we need when there is a special going on, then portion and freeze them for future use. This method is good for a few reasons, we immediately save money for buying at a lower price, we have reduced the number of trips to the grocery store, which will save on gas and the obvious thing, the less your go grocery shopping the more money you save. And we have what we need to be creative and make different meals when we feel like it.
Money saving tip #4 – Have A Shopping List
This has been said in so many money-saving articles out there. You won’t impulse shop when you have a list. Well if you follow your list and not buy everything on your list and the things you tell yourself you need but forgot to put on the list. Don’t fall for that, if it’s not on the list it’s not needed. I have a tip for the shopping list though. My shopping list is based on my weekly meal plan, but to take advantage of the sales when I’m at the store. I have alternatives builtin to my list, so I can take advantage of the specials while sticking to my list. My shopping lists are based on my meal plan for the week which on its own is created in a way to even save more money and ingredients. That will be on another blog post.
Money saving tip #5 – Use Up Those Leftovers
I’m not a fan of eating leftovers but it happens we have leftovers from time to time. To save time in the kitchen sometimes I cook more so I have leftovers for the days I don’t feel like cooking. It’s all about the perception we have about leftovers. I find it if I portion the extra food to freeze before I serve I don’t tear it as leftovers. Even if it’s not much, take that portion out of the way before serving it, if it’s not there at the dinner table, it’s not considered leftover to the kids. I portion the amount I feel is going to be leftover in my freezer dish before serving it to the family. If they need more, I bring that out if not I freeze it when it’s cooled down. We have that leftover later in the week or in a couple of weeks and it’s not a leftover it’s just frozen dish.
I also freeze the smaller, individual portions. Those are the worst, if they end up in the fridge no one wants to have them and they go to waste. I freeze those and we have restaurant-style dinner when I have enough individual portions for the whole family. Then everyone can pick what they want to each from the menu and have that. We all have our favourite food that was once leftover with maybe a fresh salad and drinks to make it even more special.
The ultimate money-saving tip is to go shopping less often. I’ve been looking at our spending in the past few months that we were in quarantine and I noticed that we spent half of what we would spend regularly. It’s interesting because except for going out for coffee nothing much has changed, yes we don’t go to restaurants anymore but we have increased our take-outs to both support our local businesses and create some sort of variety for the kids. After a lot of contemplating and analyzing I decided it should be because we just go shopping half the normal time. I can’t tolerate the long line ups so we tend to go shopping less often and buy everything we need in one or two trips a month. That should be it when you don’t go shopping you don’t spend as much.
What are the money-saving tips you can share with us? Leave us a comment.