Living on a budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are my tips to help you save big in the kitchen.
Finding ways to save money in your family budget can feel like a full-time job. Add in kids, extracurricular activities, animals, the list can go on and on, and you certainly have the right to feel overwhelmed.
Here are some things that I’ve learned to save me money and time in the kitchen.
I’m sure you’ve heard from many bloggers about meal planning. However, it is one of the best money-saving tricks. Look at your week ahead and decide what meals you will cook throughout the week to help you create a grocery list you can stick to in the store.
Meal planning can also help you not eat out as much; if you know what you’re having and are properly prepared, you’re less likely to go through the drive-thru.
To take it up a notch, you can make your meal plan and grocery list based on what is on sale at the grocery store.
Shop your pantry before you shop the store
When you begin to meal plan, look through your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Find the items that need to be used first and see what you can make from those ingredients.
Then fill in whatever you don’t have. It may take a little time initially, but you will get the hang of putting together fun food combinations and recipes.
Avoid prepackaged foods
Typically the giant bag of snacks is cheaper than the individually packaged items. Take a look at the price per ounce underneath the total cost, and you will see the large pack of goldfish crackers is probably cheaper than the box of individually packaged crackers.
The prepackaged snacks are convenient in a pinch. If you don’t want to give them up completely, just keep those for lunch boxes.
Or you can separate into smaller quantities from the larger bag, creating your own packaged snack bags for your kids just to grab and go.
It’s cheap compared to the sodas and juices, plus it’s the healthiest option, too.
Need I say more?
Save bones for stock and soups
An easy way to add flavor to your soups is using leftover bones from the chicken carcass. Hambones and chicken bones are some of my favorite ways to add extra flavor to soups.
Plus, you can make stock from the leftover bones. Saving money means no food waste or as little as possible.
You can also do this with vegetable scraps or even some leftover meat.
Simply keep a Tupperware in your refrigerator for soup ingredients. Once you have enough, put all the vegetables and meat together in a soup with some of your bone broth into a slow cooker for a few hours.
Voila! Easy meal and cutting down on your family’s overall food waste.
Grow your own herbs
Another easy way to save money but add tons of flavor to your meals is by growing herbs. Herb gardens are relatively easy to start and maintain.
Just think about the herbs you typically buy way overpriced at the store and pick them up from your local nursery to grow in your own home or back yard.
I love having a window box with my herbs to add color to my kitchen window and stronger flavor to my dishes.
A creative hack is to pour olive oil, or any oil you choose, into an ice cube tray. Then place herbs into the oil before putting the ice cube trays into the freezer.
When cooking, just pop the cubes out and place them in your pan for a simple way to add flavor to your dish.
Stop using paper napkins, paper towels, and Ziploc bags
Paper napkins can be handy, especially for spills and messy kids, but they can also eat up a tight budget. Cloth napkins not only help cut that expense but also give your table an old-fashioned feel.
Ziploc bags are also a waste. Reusable silicone sandwich bags are easy to find online these days or just use leftover containers.
Invest in a few different size silicone bags and say goodbye to plastic Ziploc bags for good.
Cut sponges in half or go sponge free
Sponges are great for washing the stuck-on food off your dishes, but they can become smelly and a bacteria breeding ground. So make sure to switch them out quite frequently.
One way to cut this expense is by cutting the sponge in half, or even fourths depending on the original size.
Frugal living is about cutting whatever expenses you can, no matter how small.
I have switched to dish rags, which can be changed daily and last for years.
Freeze fruit and veggies
I know it can’t be just my kids that eat all of the bananas in one day; then, when I buy extra bananas the next week, my same kids let them spoil. It annoys me each time, but now I have a trick to prevent waste.
Instead of letting the bananas or any fruit or vegetables go bad, I freeze them for smoothies.
Store jars upside down
I’m sad to say it took me too long to find this hack.
Store jars or plastic containers upside down to prevent mold growth. For instance, jams, jellies, sour cream, etc., are perfect items to use this frugal hack.
Create an “eat first” basket
Find a simple fridge-friendly basket and place fruit, snacks, yogurts, any time-sensitive food in the basket.
When your family wants a snack, simply point them to the “Eat First” basket to help eliminate food waste and encourage them to eat leftovers.
Make your own bread
My family loves a good sandwich, so we go through loaves of bread fast! Plus, we love the occasional dinner roll during our meals.
Making your own bread is a great way to save money.
There are a ton of recipes online with instant yeast, which is insanely cheap.
Skip sugary cereal
Make oatmeal or hot cereal for breakfast. Not only are they cheaper, but hot breakfasts tend to keep you full longer.
If you’re from the South, you may be more familiar with grits instead. A hot breakfast may require a few extra minutes, but it’s cheaper than cereal.
Please refer to the earlier tip of avoiding pre-packaged foods and grab the container of oats or grits instead of the individually bagged oatmeal.
You can control the sugar and portion sizes to fit your family best by grabbing the larger container.
Make your own snacks
If you chose the larger oatmeal container from the last tip, you’re already prepared for this next one.
Make your own granola bars for a healthy snack or any other snack your family might enjoy.
Buy fresh fruits in bulk
Buy fruits and veggies in season! It’s the best tip I can give.
To make it even cheaper, the farmer’s market is the best place to buy fruits and veggies in bulk and not hurt your wallet.
Don’t let the food go bad and waste it. But make jams, jellies, or freeze for future use.
Plus, place a fruit bowl with the older fruit on top is also a simple way to encourage your family to eat healthy snacks and avoid moldy fruit.
Use stale bread
The weird end pieces on your loaves of bread have a use! And so does your stale bread!
Use that bread for croutons, bread pudding, or to thicken casseroles.
⭐️ Don’t forget to grab your weekly fridge printable to keep track of what you’re making this week, what leftovers you have on hand, and what you need to buy! Click here to access and download instantly, no email needed. ⭐️
Frugal can be fun!
Watching your spending and having a tight budget doesn’t have to be a drag. It allows you to have fun trying new recipes and tricks to keep spending down.
Experiment with recipes, cooking methods, and even kitchen cleaning supplies.