No doubt! Food costs and all the other expenses associated with the average kitchen can lead to a huge financial drain. But it does not have to be that way! Check out these 32 Great Ways To Save Money In The Kitchen.
Save Money On Food Costs
1. Make A Shopping List Before You Leave The House.
Shopping with a list has had a bigger impact on my grocery spending then anything else. I know before I go what I have at home and what I need to buy. The shopping list also gives me a road map to follow at the store so that I stay on task and don’t make impulse purchases. Yes, sometimes I do leave something off of my shopping list, and end up grabbing on site. For the most part though, building the shopping list helps me have my bases and budget covered.
If you are not a fan of a paper list, a list building app may be just the thing.
2. Buy Food And Other Grocery Items At The Low Points In Sales Cycles.
Generally, pricing for grocery items runs in a six to ten week cycle with the lowest cost being seen at one point during this cycle. Often, the savings at that point are better than if you bought the product at regular cost with a coupon.
I have found that the best way to learn the pricing cycles is to pick out the one or two stores that you shop at most. Then for about six months, watch the prices on the items that you generally buy to pinpoint how often the really low prices come around. If you purchase lots of different items, setting up a simple spreadsheet or keeping notes in a small journal will make this process easier. Once you have figured out the low points, simply buy enough of the item at that time to last until the next low arrives.
For fruits and vegetables, the cycles may be longer than other groceries because the lowest prices generally fall when the produce is in season.
3. Buy Generic And/Or House Brands.
For many items, the taste of generic/house brands is comparable to brand names and they cost less. Products that I have consistently found to be good when buying off-brand:
- Pasta-Spaghetti , Macaroni Noodles, Rotini, etc…
- Canned Beans-Black Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Cannellini Beans, Great Northern Beans, Kidneys Beans, and more.
- Other Canned Vegetables-Artichokes, Carrots, Corn, Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes, etc…
- Canned Fruit-Cherries,Fruit Cocktail, Mandarin Oranges, Mangoes, Peaches, and Pineapples are all quite tasty and you can’t tell the difference from brand name.
- All-Purpose Flour
- White and Brown Sugar
- Corn Starch
- Baking Soda
- Condensed Sweetened Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Condensed Soups for Cooking– Cream of Celery, Cream of Chicken, and Cream of Mushroom.
4. Build Meals Around Produce That Is In Season
In season produce tends to be available at better price points than produce that is greenhouse grown outside of its regular season. The Fruits & Veggies-More Matters website offers a great What Fruits & Vegetables Are In Season Chart. Be sure and check it out before your next shopping trip.
5. Use Semi Homemade Cooking Style To Avoid Eating Out
Have no time to cook from scratch? No worries. Use the semi homemade approach. Let box mixes and pre-made sauces help you out. Sandra Lee, on the Food Network, is the queen of this approach to cooking. Check out her large collection of recipes.
6. Make It Potluck For Get Togethers
When friends and family get together to break bread, why not make it a potluck meal. Each person can bring a dish, keeping prep time and costs down for everybody.
7. Use Coupon Apps When You Shop.
If you are not into cutting out coupons and trying to remember to haul them with you to the store, try online coupon apps. Some apps offer money off at the point of purchase and some as cash back or gift cards. Apps to take a look at include:
- Coupons.com-Hundreds of paperless coupons for stores such as Target and Walmart, as well as, for use on loyalty cards of a variety of grocery chains.
- Ibotta–Cash back for selecting offers, buying the products, and then scanning the receipts. Funds can be redeemed via your Paypal account, Venmo, or as gift cards.
- Checkout 51-Similar to Ibotta, but when your cash back total reaches a certain threshold, money is sent to you by check.
- SavingStar-Offers can be digitally linked to loyalty cards at participating stores. Also, receipts can be scanned at other participating retailers. Threshold for payout is only $5.
8. Take Advantage Of After Holiday Clearance Sales.
Often you can score great deals on food that is branded and packaged for specific holidays. As soon as the holiday has passed, stores will work to clear this merchandise off their shelves to make space for new additions.
Here are 3 examples.
- After Christmas Finds-Cake mixes and decorations, candy, canned pumpkin, chicken broth, cream soups, condensed milk, Cornish game hen, crackers, food gift sets, flour, holiday themed Ziploc bags and food containers, nuts, parchment paper, paper cups and plates, pie crusts, seasonally flavored ice cream, spices and extracts, sugar, turkeys and hams. Also, don’t forget holiday themed bakeware, cookie cutters, mugs, utensils, table clothes, and dish towels. Sometimes the decorations are so subtle that it will be hard to tell that it is holiday merchandise.
- After Valentines Finds-Cake toppers, candy, chocolate, cookie cutters, heart shaped bakeware, paper cups and plates, themed Ziploc and food storage, and red velvet cake mix.
- After Easter Sales-Baking goods such as flour and sugar, candy, eggs, food coloring packs, ham, jello, lamb chops, pork chops and loins, potato salad, rolls, and whole chickens.
9. Consider A Variety of Options When Purchasing Your Spices.
- When you only need a small amount of a spice or infrequently use that spice, buying from a store that has bulk spice bins with high turnover may be the way to go. You can purchase just the amount you need, eliminating extra expense and waste.
- Check out the international aisle of your grocery for a variety of spices. You may be able to score better deals on the spices that you need there than in the baking section.
- Also, consider a visit to an ethnic food store for spice purchases.
Two product categories that I have found to be more hit or miss on house brands are condiments such as mayonnaise and ketchup, as well as, cereals. I suspect because specific tastes and texture preferences really matter in these categories.
10. Buy Meats In Larger Cuts And Slice Yourself.
For example, warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club often carry large pork loins, whole chickens, and major beef sections that can be divided into smaller portions for making a number of meals. You can also go to a butcher to purchase large pieces of meat and let the butcher do the cutting for you. It will not cost you that much more money to let a skilled professional do the work.
11. Pool Your Purchases With Friends And Family
By going in with a small group on bulk purchases, you can reap the savings of larger quantities and get just what you need rather than too much. Some easy bulk purchases include baking supplies, spices, rice, dried beans, cheese, meat, toilet paper, and trash bags.
12. Cut Up Veggies Yourself Whenever You Can.
Same principal goes for vegetables as it does for meat. On average, it is much cheaper to buy a whole head of lettuce, stalks of celery, whole carrots, etc… and cut them up yourself rather than purchase precut convenience packs.
Worried about waste with the larger portions? Many vegetables can be blanched and frozen for use over an extended period of time. Check out these helpful directions and the blanching times chart from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
13. Take Advantage Of Cheaper Cuts Of Meat By Using Crockpot.
A slower cooker is ideally suited for turning tougher, less expensive cuts of meat into fork tender, fall off the bone eats. Cuts such as brisket, beef chuck roast, chicken thighs, and pork shoulder turn out tender and delicious when treated to crockpot cooking (The Kitchn). Over time, the savings can really add up.
14. Grow Your Own Herbs.
Easy herbs to grow in pots include basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint (always grow in pots as spreads like wildfire in flowerbed), and parsley. You can freeze most herbs for later use as needed.
15. Smart Use of Freezer Space Can Save You Money
- Allows you to buy meat when at good prices and store for later use.
- Let’s you buy fruits and veggies when at peak season to be used at other times.
- Enables you to prepare soups to be thawed and heated up as easy weeknight entrees.
- Makes it easy to store assembled ingredients for casseroles and crockpot meals ahead time to pop in the oven or crockpot on a busy night.
16. Take Your Leftovers For Lunch
I have been astounded at how much money I have saved doing this. Rather than plopping down an average of eight to ten dollars a pop for lunch, I am now saving up money and socking it away for future use.
17. Ease Yourself Off Of Soda and Juices And Move To Water.
You not only cut calories and costs, but make a smart move for your health.
Save Money On Other Kitchen Purchases
18. Resist The Urge To Buy Trendy or Super Specialized Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances.
How many times will you really use an apple slicer, lemon squeezer, pasta maker, rotisserie, or snow cone maker? In the United States alone, kitchen gadgets and tools account for more than 1.9 billion dollars a year in retail sales (Statista). Take a hard look at how you cook (dump and done, semi-homemade, or from scratch) to determine the tools that you ready need and will use in your kitchen.
I dare say the tools that come in most handy in many kitchens are some good knives and a pair of scissors that you can use to cut open packages. The 3 most frequently used knives are Chef’s, Paring, and the Serrated Bread Knife.
19. Finds From Dollar Stores Can Be Great For Organizing.
These store carry a variety of baskets and containers that can be used to get your kitchen in order in no time.
20. Shop At Consignment And Thrift Stores For Glassware, Decor, And Furniture For Your Kitchen
With a little persistence, you can find nice items for your kitchen at a fraction of the cost that you would pay at a retailer or online store. Thrift stores are especially good places to find all sorts of glasses, stainless steel bowls, pots and pans, kitchen linens, chairs, tables and other furniture pieces.
Examine items closely before you buy and avoid used plastic containers and trays. as well as, any cookware with chipped coating surfaces. Consider estate sales, as well, for your kitchen needs. Also, Habitat for Humanity ReStores are good places to look for furniture, appliances, replacement sinks, faucets, etc..
21. Look Into Scratch And Dent Or Floor Model Clearance For Your Appliances
A few scratches and dents here and there (often not that obvious) can save you a decent amount of cash. In medium and larger size cities and towns, you can often find stores that specialize in slightly damaged and overstock appliances.
22. Buy Your Kitchen Linens During January White Sales
Another good option to save money on dish towels, dish clothes, tablecloths, and other kitchen linens is to purchase during the big January sales. During this time of year, as part of a longstanding tradition, retailers of all sizes discount textile bath, bed, and kitchen items. Check your favorite websites and stores to see what is available.
23. Go Easy On The Cookbook Purchases.
Online search technology has exploded the number of free options to find recipes. Some of my favorites include:
- Allrecipes-You can browse by meal type, ingredient, cooking style, special dietary needs among other search categories.
- The Kitchn-Love the Quick Recipes section and time saving cooking tips.
- Chowhound-As a crockpot fan, I especially enjoy the Slowing Cooking recipes section.
24. Make Your Own Kitchen Cleaning Supplies.
Check out how easy it is to put together some of your own cleaning products, and avoid brand markups, in this HGTV article 9 Homemade Cleaning Products. Just be sure to follow directions carefully. Only certain ingredients should be mixed with one another.
25. Take Good Care Of Your Pots, Pans, And Silverware
Make sure that you are aware of which items can go in the dishwasher and which need to be hand washed. Many of the newer “green” pans come with hand washing recommendations to preserve their surface. Real silver and many insulated tumblers should be hand washed, as well.
Also, learn which pots and pans work best on your cook top. Flat surface and induction stoves only play nice with certain pots and pans due to scratching and residue risks.
26. Keep Your Oven Clean To Save Energy
Whether it’s an oven or a microwave, clean interiors are about more than a nice, clean look. They save energy.
These appliances aren’t simply designed to cook your food through the action of the heating elements and the microwave generators. They are also designed to use the shiny surfaces of the interior to reflect heat towards your food. If the interior of your oven is covered in food stains, though, it will no longer be able to reflect heat properly (ServiceMax).
27. Clean Coils On Refrigerator Once Or Twice Per Year To Extend Life
By clearing away built up dust and debris, you can keep the coils operating at maximum efficiency for the long term.
28. Declutter Your Kitchen To Make It User Friendly.
You are more likely to want to spend time in the kitchen if it is an easy-to-use space. Are your cabinets so crammed with stuff that you must empty out everything to get to what you need? It is a pain in the rear to dig through drawers to get to cooking utensils. Take a hard look at what you own and what you really use.
Donate what you don’t need to charity or sell it for a little extra cash. Another added benefit of decluttering is that you are less likely to make duplicate purchases because you can easily see what you already own.
Save Money In The Kitchen On Remodeling
29. Rather Than Scraping Your Kitchen Cabinets, Renew Them With Fresh Paint And Hardware
Kitchen cabinets replacement is often the largest expense in remodeling projects. Rather than replacing them, many kitchen cabinets can be sanded down and stained or painted to give them a fresh look. Adding some new hardware (handles, pulls) will help finish off the transformation.
30. Consider Remnant Pieces For Countertop Replacement Or Use Do It Yourself Refinishing
If you do not have a big area of countertop that are looking to replace, remnant pieces may work nicely. Check with local kitchen contractors and suppliers to see what pieces that they have left over from previous jobs.
Also, new products are emerging all the time that allow you to DIY refinish your kitchen countertops.
31. Avoid Messing Around Much With the Footprint Of The Kitchen
Remodeling costs can easily skyrocket when you change the footprint of your kitchen. Skilled tradespeople will likely need to be called in to remove walls, put in new plumping and electrical, etc..
32. Don’t Set Your Sites And Your Wallet On Trendy Kitchen Finishes
Not only are they sure to go out of style more quickly than their tried and true counterparts, but prices tend to be higher because they are in such great demand.
By using even a fraction of these 32 Great Ways To Save Money In the Kitchen, you will able to make financial resources stretch much further.
Before you go be sure to grab your FREE 32 Ways To Save Money in the Kitchen TIP SHEET. Refer to it whenever you need to remind your self of great ways to make your money work hard for you in the kitchen.