The kitchen can be a black hole that sucks up money faster than a thirsty elephant. There’s the equipment you bought that didn’t change your life and it’s gathering dust on the shelf. There’s all that zucchini (or some other vegetables or fruit) that goes bad because you forgot it was in the crisper. And then, there’s the stuff that’s been sitting in the pantry for eons because you shopped without a list. Don’t even get us started on the pretzel maker you bought.
Time to right the ship and take stock. Think of the kitchen as your own piggy bank, a place where money can be saved rather than washed down the drain. Here are 5 Money Saving Kitchen tips:
Convenience costs money. The more someone else does for you, the more it will cost. For instance, cut-up fruit is pricier than whole fruit. Take a look at chicken prices. Most expensive is boneless, skinless chicken breasts; least is a whole chicken. In the middle are chicken pieces on the bone and with skin. It’s cheaper to buy cheese in blocks over bags of shredded; shrimp in shells, and whole onions rather than diced. Shred, peel and chop yourself and you’ll save money. On the flip side, a can of chicken noodle soup might be less expensive than making your own, but homemade is likely better tasting.
Use everything. The pickles are gone but the juice remains? Put it to good use by adding sliced cucumbers, carrots, asparagus spears, green beans or even cauliflower pieces to the brine. Close up the jar and let it sit for a few days in the fridge and you’ll have quick pickles. Has the French bread gone slightly stale? Make a panzanella salad of bread cubes, fresh mozzarella, halved grape tomatoes and chopped basil. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette. Don’t let fresh herbs go limp and ugly. Maybe you bought them for one dish but devise a plan to use the rest because they aren’t cheap. Snip into green salads, use in soups or stir into omelets. Bring hard cookies back to life by putting a slice of bread into the cookie jar with them or if you store them in a zipper-lock bag, add the bread there.
Resist unnecessary gadgets and equipment. Go through your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Are they full of stuff you don’t use? Get rid of it all (garage sales!) to give yourself room. Now resist filling up again. For instance, you don’t necessarily need a pots-and-pans set put together by the manufacturer if there are pieces you will never use. You can pick and choose what you need (a mix of cast iron, aluminum and non-stick) by buying them through open stock. You can often find good deals at the big box discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Home Goods. Likewise, gadgets such as garlic peelers, egg slicers, egg separators or avocado peelers. Do you really need them? And just say no to novelty appliances like the condiment gun or Twinkie maker.
Assess what you have. Are you one of those people who has three containers of bay leaves, two of ground cumin and a whole lot of paprika shaking in the spice cabinet? And then you just keep buying them because you don’t know what you have. What’s in your pantry? Take stock of your shelf-stable stores and what’s in the freezer, too. Unless you are stocking up for the apocalypse, use what you have before you buy new. I date my spices with a Sharpie and I toss them on their 2-year-old birthday. I don’t want wimpy-weak spices in the food I make. If it helps, keep a list posted inside your cabinet. I am not that organized but I know some people are.
Related: Skinny Beef Chili from Webicurean
Cook with less expensive ingredients. Or buy ingredients in larger quantities. Make a dinner from eggs. Learn to cook tougher cuts of meats that take more time but can be used for several meals. A family pack of chicken breasts (with skin and bones) is cheaper per pound than two pieces. Split them up in the portions that make sense for your family then wrap in foil and freeze in zipper-locked bags. (Write contents and amount on bag.) Potatoes, pasta and rice are inexpensive. So are beans and apples. Figure out ways to get them into your meals.
These are just a few ways you can save money. I am sure you have some too. Will you share?