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How To Save Money In The Kitchen

In every home, the kitchen is the most popular and sacred place. Everyone eats, after all. Because of the pandemic, more people had been forced to stay at home and prepare their own meals. But if you’re not used to this routine, you might find the idea of shopping, preparing and cooking your own meal tedious and not to mention, expensive. So, here are some tips you and your family (or roommates!) can do on how to save money in the kitchen.

Plan Meals In Advance

Different vegetables and fruits for meal planning
Different vegetables and fruits for meal planning

A little preparation may go a long way! Each week, set aside time to plan your meals. Make a note of all the ingredients you'll need for each meal and put them in your shopping list. This step alone will save you money at the store by preventing you from making unnecessary purchases. Having a weekly meal also helps to eliminate the temptation to buy takeout or dine out. Meal planning does take time. But not nearly as much as you might believe. Especially if you make a master list of meals ahead of time to refer to as you plan each week's meals.

Eat Leftovers

It's likely that you (or someone you live with) are a "leftover hater" because you're approaching leftovers incorrectly. You see, eating leftovers does not imply that you must eat the same thing every night. A large batch of taco meat, for example, may be used to make taco salad one night, taco stuffed peppers the next, and Mexican beef and rice the third.

A little preparation may go a long way! Each week, set aside time to plan your meals. Make a note of all the ingredients you'll need for each meal and put them in your shopping list. This step alone will save you money at the store by preventing you from making unneeded purchases. Having a weekly meal also helps to eliminate the temptation to buy takeout or dine out.

Reuse Kitchen Scraps

Many culinary wastes can be upcycled and reused in new recipes. To make homemade broth and stock, for example, you can use leftover veggies or chicken bones.

Other ways I recycle unwanted food include converting stale bread into salad croutons and making banana bread with overripe bananas. Look for ways to repurpose goods that might otherwise be thrown out for new dishes. For additional information on how to reduce food waste, see the Zero Waste Chef.

Make Homemade Sauces And Condiments

Different sauces and dips
Different sauces and dips

Purchasing basic sauces as well as condiments such as mustard and salad dressing can quickly add up. Furthermore, the majority of these things are packaged in single-use plastic containers, which are extremely harmful to the environment.

Make your own condiments instead of buying them from the supermarket. There are a variety of homemade recipes available online that are both entertaining and superior to store-bought sauces!

Eat Seasonally 

To know what foods are in season in your area, you don't have to be a gardener. Simply look in the grocery store for the cheapest fruits and veggies to find out.

It makes sense to eat seasonally rather than the same meal for 52 weeks of the year. We only eat strawberries in June, when they are at their cheapest, and we don't consume them any other time of year.

Skip The Dry Cycle On Your Dishwasher

Despite the fact that kitchen appliances are useful, the energy they consume has a negative influence on the environment... not to mention that they drive up your power bill! Fortunately, there are methods to enjoy these foods while reducing their negative consequences.

One approach to accomplish this is to skip the dishwasher's "dry cycle." When it's time to dry your dishes, simply open the dishwasher door or grab a drying rack and let them air dry naturally.

Dishes dry just as effectively when left in the dishwasher overnight on the "air dry" setting. Did you know that when it comes to hot water consumption, using a dishwasher (rather than handwashing) saves you money? Also, if your dishwasher is relatively new, there's no need to rinse your dishes before loading them. Scrape the dish into the trash or garbage disposal and load it. Also, when you run your dishwasher, the time of day you run it can help you save money. Run it at night to save the most electricity.

Don’t Store Hot Items In Your Refrigerator

Your refrigerator, like your dishwasher, uses a lot of energy in the kitchen. There are several strategies to lower the amount of energy used by your refrigerator. A fantastic suggestion for a quick win is to make sure your refrigerator or freezer temperature isn't set too high. The best temperature for your freezer is -18°C, and the best temperature for your fridge is between 2°C and 5°C. It's also crucial to provide some breathing room at the back of your fridge or freezer.

Unplug Kitchen Appliances That Aren’t In Use

Even if the items aren't turned on, keeping them plugged in consumes energy. When you're not using a kitchen gadget, how many do you leave plugged in? While you may not be able to turn off your refrigerator, you can disconnect many smaller items.

Take a look around your kitchen and see what you have left plugged in. You'll be astonished at how many you'll come across. Microwaves, coffee machines, and toasters are some of the more common ones I've seen. These may appear insignificant, but small measures like this can add up to big savings.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Cooking in bulk has two advantages. To begin with, you will save time because bulk cooking bolognese sauce takes only a few minutes longer than cooking a single dinner size. Second, by filling your oven and cooking with larger pans, you are conserving electricity. Freeze any leftover portions for a fast weeknight supper.

Stop Using Paper Towels

Paper towels alone cost the average family just under $10 per month. When you factor in the cost of napkins, paper plates, disposable cups, and plastic utensils, you're looking at a lot of money being lost over the course of a year. You may save a lot of money by removing paper towels from your kitchen. Furthermore, paper towels are one of the most wasteful single-use items available!

Invest in a set of kitchen towels instead of using paper towels to clean your kitchen. You may also tear up old garments or bedsheets and use them as DIY kitchen towels if you really want to be green. Keep a basket of rags on your counter to reuse over and again.

Bulk Bin Shopping

Shopping at your grocery store's bulk bin aisle is a terrific method to save money. When you shop in bulk, you can save money on things like rice, spices, and dried fruit. Shopping in bulk bins also allows you to avoid the plastic packaging that many of these things come in. Because most retailers provide plastic produce bags for use in the bulk bin department, you can avoid contributing to the plastic bag problem by grabbing some reusable bags.

Stay Out Of The Grocery Store

Kroger organic produce grocery store
Kroger organic produce grocery store

This one is for you if you shop too much and wonder, "How can I spend less money on groceries?" The more trips to the grocery shop you make, the more money you'll spend. Plan on going to the store only once or twice a week. If you run out of something, wait until your next planned trip to replace it. Also, if you go to the store hungry, you are more likely to make impulse purchases.

Always Check The Clearance Shelf

For produce that is nearing the end of its shelf life. They're still edible for the next few days, and you can save up to 70% on them. Don't be scared to stock up when something goes on sale at a ridiculously low price. Butter, pork, chocolate chips, sliced bell peppers, onions, berries, and other fresh foods can be frozen for later use.

Start A Garden

Woman gardening
Woman gardening

Gardening is a less expensive option to store-bought vegetables. It also reduces the negative environmental impact of shipping produce. Not only that but knowing you're using fresh, organic ingredients makes you feel amazing.

If you don't have enough space in your home for a garden, seek community gardens in your region. I can't say enough about the benefits of community gardening! It's a sustainable method of food production that also allows you to connect with your neighbors.

Use Money-saving Apps

Mint money saving app
Mint money saving app

Get cashback on your supermarket shopping with apps like IBOTTA and Checkout51. These are beneficial because they usually provide generic refunds on goods like milk, fruit, and cheese.

Make Your Own Coffee At Home

Pouring cold brew coffee at home
Pouring cold brew coffee at home

You're well aware that buying coffee on the fly is costly. While a Starbucks coffee once in a while is a lovely treat, buying it on a regular basis is insane. Save money by brewing your own for a fraction of the cost and keeping it hot for hours with a hot drinks travel mug.

Buy Reusable Kitchen Items

Different eco friendly reusable items for kitchen and home
Different eco friendly reusable items for kitchen and home

Single-purpose goods demand repeated purchases. Spend a little more and get reusable things, which will save you money while also being better for the environment.

The following are some of my favorite reusable items:

  • beeswax wraps
  • microfiber cloths
  • glass storage containers
  • cotton bags

Choose reusable kitchen goods wherever possible if you really want to save money in the kitchen. You'll have to put in some additional cash at first, but you'll save a lot of money in the long term.

Put Lids On Pans

This is something my parents taught me from a very young age. Always use lids on your pots when cooking on the stove. You conserve energy and get things to a boil faster.

Shop At The Discount Stores

For produce that is nearing the end of its shelf life. They're still edible for the next few days, and you can save up to 70% on them. Discount retailers can provide some fantastic deals.

They don't always have the same things in stock, but the ones they do have are often half the price of ordinary stores.

Pack Your Lunch

Whenever you're out and about, whether it's for work or a day out. Lunch can easily cost $7 or more each day, amounting to $35 per week or over $1500 per year. It's bad for your health, your wallet, and the environment to eat lunch out every day. Prepare ahead of time and bring your own food.

Conclusion

Conserving money and saving the environment are inextricably linked. Use one of the ideas above to help the environment while lowering your cooking bills!

About The Authors

Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna - Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.

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