26 Easy Ideas to Save You Money in the Kitchen
Turn off the burner when cooking rice. When making rice I just bring it to a boil for a couple minutes and then shut off the burner. I let it sit on the burner with the lid on and it just slowly cooks to perfection! No more gooey rice mess.
Turn off the burner under cast iron. Cast iron holds a lot of heat. With many quick cooking things (think tortillas, eggs, and even pancakes) you can turn off the burner before the food is done and the heat in the pan will be enough for it to finish cooking.
Use a lid. Don’t boil things without putting a lid on! Lids hold in the heat bringing your water to a boil faster and saving you cash!
Don’t buy single use items. Anything that doesn’t have more than one use/isn’t going to be used on a regular basis does not deserve a place in you kitchen or budget. This includes things like paper towels (use rags) and those silly little appliances like zucchini spiralizers. If you won’t use it more then once don’t get it!
Save vegetable scraps for broth. Every time I chop up vegetables I add scraps such as the ends of carrots, celery leaves, dried out mushroom bits, and onion pieces to a ziplock I keep in the freezer. When it gets full I just cover the scraps with water in a pot and boil them for several hours to make a delicious homemade broth.
Save frying oil. Whenever I fry something like potatoes where the oil stays relatively clean I save it for later. If there’s a lot I pour it into a mason jar and use it to fry something else in or I just leave my pan on the stove and put a lid on it to keep out dust. Don’t worry you want get sick. The fat will preserve little pieces of pretty much anything.
Don’t use sponges. Instead of buying sponges you can use dish rags or make scrubbies from old onion sacks. Plus dish rags are much more sanitary because you can just toss them in the laundry whenever they need it.
If you have a wood stove use it! Heat your coffee/tea/soup/whatever on that baby. If it’s winter it’s hot anyway right? Also just because your wood stove doesn’t have an oven doesn’t mean you can’t bake with it. We just get a bunch of coals and shove them to the back and bake things like cookies or bread in the front. If it’s really hot I sometimes have to rotate what I’m baking so one side doesn’t cook to fast but hey free energy.
Learn to drink coffee like your grandparents. Invest in a percolator. They’re totally worth it. They make delicious coffee and you don’t need to buy filters or even use any electricity if your wood stove is going! We found one at a local antique shop with a glass bulb and stainless steel parts. I’m sure we’ll have it for a very long time.
Don’t buy tupperware. Re-use glass jars. Pickle, jam, and sauce jars can all be reused to store leftovers.
Use gallon glass jugs for water. They can be washed and reused again and again while plastic must be replaced so often and leach harmful chemicals. Speaking of which:
Drink your damn tap water. Don’t buy water. I don’t think I even have to get into why. Get a filter if you must but spending money on water is just ridiculous.
Learn to make single pot meals. These not only cut down on your energy bill but also your dishwashing!
Purchase an induction cook top. These use far less electricity than traditional ranges and are perfect for those one pot meals I mentioned.
Pre-soak anything you can before cooking it. We presoak dry beans, chickpeas, and steel cut oats overnight. It drastically reduces their cook time.
When you have to purchase new kitchenwares buy quality. Items like cast iron pans are well worth the price tag. They’ll far outlast their non-stick counterparts and won’t give you cancer. Yay!
Always check antique shops and thrift stores for kitchenwares. I’ve often found quality items there like our percolator, glass containers, and our food processor. Score!
Replace your appliances with hand crank ones whenever you have the opportunity. We now have a hand crank wheat mill and food processor. Other great hand crank options include coffee grinders and pasta makers.
Utilize the power of the sun. There are affordable and easy to use solar ovens available (or you can google DIY plans). If you’re not ready to take that step start out with some sun tea. It’s super easy and fun to make. You can learn how here.
When something breaks consider forgoing purchasing a new one. This is how we stopped using dishwashers and learned to live without a microwave.
Grow stuff. Even if it’s just herbs or lettuce on a windowsill try your hand at growing your own food. For those of you who have fallen on hard times did you know you can purchase vegetable seeds with food stamps?
Cook with the seasons. This works in two ways. Buying in season produce is often significantly cheaper. Also making seasonal meals will cut down your energy bill. Try to eat your favorite baked or long simmering meals in the wintertime when your house needs to be heated anyway.
Preserve. Preserve. Preserve. Fill up that larder even if it’s only with discounted grocery store produce. Yes, I try to grow and preserve as much of my own produce as possible but I also supplement that at the farmer’s market and when I’m at the store if I see things like really cheap bananas I bring them home and pop them in the freezer for baking and smoothies!
Cook from scratch. Okay I feel like this one is constantly repeated but I mean really from scratch. We have slowly built up to making all our own bread, tortillas, crackers, and most of our pasta with our home ground wheat. We can buy organic whole wheat berries much cheaper than we can purchase organic flour.
If you have a freezer don’t leave it empty. It’s much harder on freezers and therefore your electric bill to heat open air than to keep things frozen. If you don’t have enough food to fill it fill the open spaces with old milk jugs or containers full of water.
How do you save money when the budget gets tight? Let us know!