How To Save Money On Foods In The Kitchen
If you’re looking for ways to save money on food and in the kitchen, here are several practical ideas to squeeze your dollar:
GROW A VEGETABLE GARDEN
You may be surprised how much money you can save by growing some of your own food – especially in today’s environment of increasing food prices. There are many vegetables that are very easy to grow, and by setting aside the time to grow even a small garden or container garden, you will not only reap the rewards of a harvest, but you will learn a valuable and practical skill.
PREPARE MEALS AHEAD
Rather than waiting until the last minute to throw together a meal (which often leads to finding quick and more expensive fast foods or processed foods for dinner), make a meal plan and prepare ahead of time. Examples include soaking and cooking your own beans from scratch (rather than cans of processed beans). Steam vegetables ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator until you need them. Prepare (peel, slice, chop, etc.) vegetables and have them at the ready. The general point is, if you plan and prepare ahead of time, you will be less likely to rush and use more expensive alternatives instead (like ordering pizza…).
PURCHASE FOOD IN BULK
Buying foods in bulk can save lots of money. Foods are marked up when you buy in small quantities. While some foods are not practical to buy in bulk (because you won’t consume all of it in time), there are MANY foods which you can store in bulk and incorporate into your meal plans. As a society we have been trained to consume processed foods. Not only are many of them relatively unhealthy, but we pay lots more for them compared with making your own meals from raw ingredients. Consuming processed foods are indeed faster, and in today’s rushed world it is a very easy way to eat, but you will usually pay more for it.
SAVE THE LEFTOVERS
There are LOTS of people who will not save leftovers and will not eat them the next day. While I’ve never really understood this, the fact is it’s true. Apparently reheating the next day just doesn’t taste as good to them. The thing is, this is costing you money. When looking for ways to save money in the kitchen, you must eat your leftovers. It’s a no-brainer, but needs mentioning.
What I mean by this is learning to cook from scratch and to become creative with meal plans while using bulk and other foods and spices to compliment an overall cost-saving meal. There is an alarming number (majority?) of people who simply do not know how to cook hardly a thing. Not only is it more expensive to pay for others to process and prepare your meals, you become reliant on them for your very survival. While in the developed world we have the luxury of ready-made foods at our disposal, who’s to say that it will always be that way… Be better prepared and learn how to cook from scratch.
What are some of your own tips how to save money in the kitchen?
In the West you can shop at WINCO for substantial savings on your food bill. And you can shop at Walmart everywhere and save money over the rest of the grocery stores. Another obvious trick is to buy in season. We just canned 38 pints of strawberry jam. In another month the blackberries will be ripe and we will probably can an equal amount of blackberry jam. Watch for cyclical prices in meat especially pork and chicken. Pork will vary from month to month from $2.26 a lb to $4 a lb. Chicken will vary from $.98 to $1.98 a lb from month to month. Track the trends and buy when it’s cheap and freeze it.
Another trick is the cycle that food stamps creates. Towards the end of the month the food stamps have already been spent on steaks and drugs and the stores reduce the prices of perishable foods to keep them moving off the shelf. So look for bargins in the last few days of the month. Also related is look for reduced price on cuts of meat towards the end of the month AND on mondays. This is because whatever didn’t sell over the weekend in anticipation of barbecues and picnics must be sold on Monday and Tuesday. And last tip; shop in the morning. Usually there are just a few bargins and markd down packages of hamburger or steak and they go quick. I swing by the meat section before 8 am and if the meat guy/gal is working the counters I look it over for deals but then shop for other items and come back again after the meat guy has had a chance to pull the items that must be sold and mark them down. Sometimes you have to wait until they are done but it usually pays off with 20% discounts.
They say that we waste half of the food we buy. Not just half eaten loaves of bread or food that you throw away because it reached its pull date.
Ever watch one of those cooking shows? One of my pet peeves (and they ALL do it) is when they finish cooking a dish, they dump as much as easily falls out of the pan into a serving dish and then throw the rest in the sink. Usually there is at least one serving left in the pan — often more. Or they chop up a bunch of veggies or herbs and then leave half on the counter to be scraped into the garbage can after the dish goes into the oven. I grew up very poor, and I would never leave a strand of spaghetti or grain of rice or spoonful of gravy in the pan.
Buy foods on sale.
Check the quality of fresh foods before you buy and buy only what you can eat before they spoil. When buying in bulk, take the time to pick out the freshest items. When you get a bag of food home (potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, etc.,) take them out of the bag when you get home and look for signs that any of them have bad spots. If so, throw that bad apple away before it ruins the whole bag.
Check the price per unit on the store shelf. Sometimes there is a huge difference between per oz. prices in different sizes; sometimes very little; and if a certain size is on sale, it is usually cheaper in that size than any other. Recently russet potatoes were $1.99 for a 5 lb. bag. Then they had a sale on a 10 lb. pound bag for $1.99, but the 5 pound bag was still $1.99.
Prepared foods are much more expensive than foods you make from scratch. Brand names are more expensive than store brands, and often come from the same company. Beans are cheaper than meat, and often better for you.
Keep a list of foods or brands that disappoint you so you won’t accidently buy them again.
If you absolutely won’t eat leftovers, feed them to your pet (but not onions, tomatoes, chocolate, etc.) If you have only a spoonful of leftovers, it is often more expensive to save them by the time you figure the cost of plastic wrap, foil, etc., and the cost of washing an extra dish. Go ahead and eat that extra mouthful or give it to Fido.
My husband is one who won’t eat ‘leftovers’. I come from a family that is used to cooking a huge supper every night and using the leftovers for dinner the next day. So, to get my husband on board, I started making the huge meals, having our supper and then freezing the rest in single meal packets. Now they aren’t ‘leftovers’ anymore, but a whole new meal. ;)
I also ‘recycle’ any food we don’t eat by giving it to my chickens, who turn it into some lovely orange-yolked eggs and a chicken supper now and then.
Many good cookbooks (and Clara’s Kitchen on youtube) on cooking during the first great depression. A lot of the meals my mother prepared when I was young were the meals she prepared during the depression. Still some of my favorite meals.
The lesson is this: Learn to Cook.
All prepared people are also cooks. A cook can look at a cabinet of various goods and create a meal, where non-cooks see nothing.
Learn to cook everything from scratch. Learn to CAN. Buy a pressure canner.
Add some bbq sauce and CAN that left over pork. Take that leftover ham and buy some Great Northerns and can beans and ham, adding whatever leftover veggies you have, carrots, onions, celery, peas…it really doesn’t matter.
Can the chicken thighs and legs when they sell them cheap.
Buy lots of rice and pasta, but CAN the sauces and meat you will eat with them.
If you have a tough week, where you have to make your car payment, its good to have food you like, ready to eat, in storage, instead of trying to survive on ramen, so you can drive to work.
okay, this is true, but nonetheless, worth a chuckle..
Don’t throw out things that are burnt, train you kids, young,that it is “just good fibre”..
back when first married, with three yr old, I blush to say, there was a fair bit burnt. Being frugal, it never went “out”. Just served it with a comment re “fibre”. My husband was (in retrospect) incredibly adaptive to the “increased fibre content, aka burnt), and seemed to eat it with no complaint.
One day, he had just about “enough”, and made some mild comment about it being a “tad burnt”..
My three yr old was “well trained/acclimatised” “Oh no, Dad, it is just good fibre”…
We were very poor and couldn’t afford to waste food, even burnt food. Once my mother burned the scrambled eggs. Daddy told us they were “rooster eggs.” We told him not to buy any more of those rooster eggs.
love it. “rooster eggs”, grin. will have to remember that. although, lucky there is not too much burnt anymore.
Once a month my wife and I have a “prepper dinner” with three other sets of relatives/prepper families in which we use only food preps, no electricity, etc. We usually have one or two people do a lesson on a topic they are skilled in such as medical, comms, firearms, etc. Not so much a food saving idea (although it does save four families from having to cook a big meal) but it does aid in preparedness, raises issues to be addressed in future preps, and builds comradeship.
I’m new to your forum but am really enjoying it, very very useful info. here. I’m not only a prepper/survivalist but also teach frugal living for a online womens magazine and often find they go hand in hand.. being frugal and prepping. There were some great suggestions on here. On the gardening, don’t forget to save your seeds for next years harvest.. heirloom work best. Save your dirt too if you do like me and do container gardening. While I have a large yard there is also a lot of weeds out there and it can become a big jungle so containers work better.. I was fortunate to have a neighbor throw out about a dozen really large containers that I got free. 10 years ago I planted a apple tree and a cherry tree in my back yard. I am now gleaning apples most years that I can and use for eating and baking with.. apple cobbler in the winter, warmed apples with ice cream. I also have learned to can oranges when they are on sale, never would have thought to do that until I visited a blog that is on survival. I work for a bulk food store and we get a employee discount plus they send out email coupons to the public so I use both and am busy stocking up my emergency supplies. We like chili and in times of survival and maybe not having a large water supply (I live in the city) having things that are already presoaked and basically cooked is a definite plus. I also stock up on canned meat I think it’s a 3 lb. can (chicken) they also sell ground beef that is precooked but we don’t eat beef so not something we’re interested in. Anyways.. prepping and being frugal is something is never far from my mind.
I forgot to mention: The apple tree I planted is just a common golden apple they are the small green ones (they usually fall off before turning red) that are common everywhere. If you have a neighbor who has fruit trees and isn’t using them (I have a neighbor on the next street who has a apple tree too) ask for them, they will probably be grateful to give them away instead of having to mow over them when they fall off the tree or having to rake them up.. city people sigh! Same with pear trees. We will be getting a maple tree cut down this summer and I have plans to replace that area with a pear tree or maybe a peach tree? The maple was here when we moved in.. my thinking is if it doesn’t bear fruit, it’s useless.
Anna – Use the maple tree to make maple syrup