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How to Save Money in the Kitchen

How to Save Money in the Kitchen
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Even if you have the extra funds to spare, it would not do to spend money on wasteful habits, especially when it comes to home maintenance. Unfortunately, there are many ways that people do everyday things which are actually wasteful. The good news is that by consciously avoiding such wastes, you can stop spending more money than you should – and maybe save enough to fund your next vacation or a luxurious purchase.

Here, we will take a look at the ways that you can save money in the kitchen. Parents are usually afraid of not spending enough money on grocery items, thinking that doing so will make their kids feel deprived or lacking in nutrition.

However, there are many ways that they can actually save money on groceries, utility bills in the kitchen and even kitchen renovations. Again, the key is to be conscious about how you are spending your money. Being mindful of value and avoiding wasteful habits is the best way to go.

Update the Look of Your Kitchen for Less!

Let’s say that you are tired of the same old look that your kitchen has had for the past decade or so. You’d like to renovate or remodel the area and make it more energy efficient, and update its look. How can you do so without spending so much money? Take a look at the following tips:

Focus on increasing the efficiency instead of the size of the kitchen

One of the biggest and costliest mistakes that a homeowner can make when handling a kitchen renovation project is increasing the size instead of focusing on efficiency.

Having a huge kitchen does have its drawbacks because it takes more effort to move around. When you have a smaller one, there’s economy of movement.

If you think that the kitchen can use more space, simply replace space-consuming cabinets with pull-out drawers or slimmer ones that hang on the wall.

Bring as much of the natural light in as possible

When deciding how the finished kitchen should look, make sure to consider bringing in as much of the natural light as possible. Not only will this let you save money on utility bills, but it will also improve the ambiance inside your kitchen.

One way to inexpensively bring natural light without adding glass windows is to install a light tube. These are fixtures which easily slip between funnels and roof rafters, immediately bringing in more natural light into windowless baths or hallways.

Don’t move plumbing fixtures

When making a plan for your kitchen renovation, it would cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to move a sink or a toilet – even if the distance is as small as three feet.

By leaving them at their existing locations, you would not have to spend anything. If your heart is really set on relocating parts of the kitchen or the toilet with plumbing fixtures, you might as well invest in an upgrading of pipes. This will save you more money in the long run.

Know where to source cheap material

Finally, know where to source cheap materials for your kitchen renovation. Hit the recycling center or check out ReStores, a project of Habitat for Humanity. They sell recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials at very affordable prices, usually a fraction of what you will pay for when they’re brand new. You can also look for building supplies at auctions or flea markets, and save a lot of money for building material.

When it comes to the labor-associated costs, it pays to work with a reputable architect. You can also partner with a contractor, and contribute your own sweat for the jobs that you can easily handle yourself to save money on building costs. With these tips, you can update the look of your kitchen for less – while making it more energy efficient at the same time.

Everyday Tips to Save Money in the Kitchen

Next, let’s take a look at the everyday tips on how you can save money in the kitchen:

Regarding small kitchen appliances, make sure that they have a good rating

If your dishwasher gave out on you, it is best to replace it with a newer model with an Energy Star rating. In fact, old electrical appliances and gadgets in the kitchen usually use up so much electricity, that it becomes more practical to replace them with new ones for the energy that you will save.

Also, even if you have the budget to buy bigger models of kitchen gadgets and appliances, you will simply waste energy if there are only two or three of you in the house. Make sure that that you are using appropriately-sized gadgets for cooking so you don’t end up wasting energy.

Know how to save energy when cooking

Match the size of the stove burner with the size of your cooker or pan. You might think that food gets cooked more quickly when you’re using a bigger burner – but you will only end up wasting gas or electricity in the end. Cook stews with the lead on to preserve heat. When baking, don’t leave the oven door open.

You should also think about purchasing a small oven toaster instead of using your huge oven when making toasted bread. Using big appliances for small cooking tasks is a huge waste of energy.

You should also think about cooking dishes in big batches then dividing them into two servings. Instead of re-cooking dishes from scratch, you can simply reheat the second batch in the microwave or stovetop.

Stop wasting food!

If you have a family with small kids, give them small portions of food. Kids will ask for more if they’re still hungry. Put any uneaten food in the refrigerator after it has cooled so there’s no spoilage. You can also make simple one-dish meals which contain a serving of meat, veggies and bread so you won’t have to use up so much energy while cooking.

Use up leftovers

Vegetables, pasta and some meat dishes are frequently left unconsumed or half-eaten. When you throw these away, you are practically throwing away money.

If you have lots of leftover from a dinner party, find a way to incorporate them into a soup, casserole or salad. Make your own veggie or meat stock when you have lots of leftovers so you won’t have to buy the canned variants.

Stock up on a lot of things!

If it’s time to go grocery shopping, take stock of the items that you have in the kitchen. If there are a few veggies left, buy a small amount of ingredients for a dish that you can serve for dinner.

Never go to the grocery store hungry because it will make you reach for things that you are simply craving for, instead of what you really need. Make a detailed list of the items that you need and stick to it so you won’t go over budget.

Never assume that homemade is cheaper

Even if you’re a baker, making chocolate chip cookies from scratch will require you to buy the ingredients and spend money on gas to fire up the oven. If there’s a really good deal on packaged cookies or any other items, make a few quick calculations.

Is it cheaper to buy pre-made or is it worth it to opt for what’s homemade? Typically, it will cost you less to buy items pre-made if they are on sale, rather than making them from scratch at home.

Wisely use grocery coupons

If you’re an avid coupon collector, there is one rule that you need to be aware of: it’s not what you save but what you spend that matters. Let’s say that the coupon says that you will save $2 when buying item A. If item A is something that you would usually not buy, anyway, you will actually end up wasting the money for the whole price of the item instead of supposedly saving $2.

Only look for coupons for items that you would normally buy when going grocery shopping so you can save money.

Know which stores to buy cheaper ingredients from

Even when you’re shopping at dollar stores or superstores, the prices would still vary greatly on different items. Make a quick list of the items that you can buy cheaply at different stores, and stock up on supplies there.

Plan your grocery shopping so you won’t waste gas – so make sure that the stores are located near each other. It’s also a good idea to buy items in bulk if they can be stocked. However, for items that easily spoil, it is best to measure how much you actually need for a couple of weeks’ supply rather than end up not using the ingredients at all and wasting them.

The kitchen is indeed a booby trap for parents who do not really know how to budget. By being mindful of your electricity usage and being resourceful with the way that you use up kitchen staples, you will end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

12 Comments

  • There are a lot of great tips here. I particularly like the one about incorporating left overs into soups, casseroles, and salads. I try to do this a lot with left over beef or chicken, these make great additions to a salad the next day for work. I have a hard time knowing what to do with left over cooked vegetables, and hadn’t really thought about soups, so this something I will have to make an effort to try. I do try to freeze vegetables that have been cut but not cooked yet, when there is more than I need in a recipe, and then use those vegetables in shepherd’s pie or pot pies.

  • Thanks for the tips. Also only cook food that would suffice for the day so that it won’t leave any left overs that might not be eaten the next day. Most people think that it’s cheaper to make home meals but to be fair it’s actually more expensive in a sense because you have to do all the cooking and all that stuff.

    • I like to purposefully make left overs of certain items and then take them for lunch the next day. Even taking into account the energy used cooking, the cost is often far less per serving that going to a restaurant. Particularly than going to a restaurant for both dinner and lunch the next day.

  • Nice tips.It’s good you mentioned the energy saving appliances. Most electric appliances in the kitchen use a lot of energy and it would be wise to invest in energy saving appliances whenever you’re are planning to replace or buy a new one.

  • I feel terrible when I have to throw away spoiled food. I bring leftovers in to work every day, and I’m generally pretty good about using everything up. If I make a big batch of soup or stew, I freeze it in individual servings so that I can pull out just enough to bring for lunch without thawing the whole batch. As a side note, a full freezer will be more efficient than empty one, so keeping your freezer stocked with leftovers will help you make a quick meal on the fly as well as helping your electric bill.

  • I love buying kitchenwares that don’t match! Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores. Of course, I always make sure they’re in good condition, but it’s so fun to see a complete kitchen come together on a low budget with a lot of personality! I mean, who really cares if their silverware is identical?

    • Same here! Everything in my kitchen is mismatched. I have all different plates, cups, and bowls. None of it matches. I’ve bought nearly everything used or on clearance. I love finding kitchenwares at dollar stores or the thrift store. I like that nothing matches. It feels more like home to me that way.

  • Great tips! I always keep leftovers for a day or two, and you can actually use certain leftover meals/ingredients on other dishes as mentioned. Better than throwing the food away! Keeping some foods in the freezer is also a good idea, because that way some food can last a long time in there and be ready for when you need it (rather than going out and buying again).

  • Another good tip is to buy bulk on staples when you can. You can shave dollars of of the cost for items you use frequently like flour, sugar, rice, beans, etc. Another recommendation I can add is to find a store near you that sells spices by weight, not container. If you need a bay leaf or a little bit of a spice you don’t use very often for a recipe, you can pay a few cents for a couple of teaspoons and not waste money on an entire container that will sit in your pantry and go bad over time.

  • Another set of good tips. I am guilty of making homemade items even if they are not always cost effective. I do try to eat leftovers as I hate wasting food. I’m always surprised at how many people waste their money this way. I usually try to make smaller dishes so I don’t have as many leftovers. That is what works for me.

  • I try to buy stuff with the Energy star rating, its nice. Our kitchen is apartment sized though so all I can do out there aside from occasionally changing equipment is decorating very little but for cheap.

  • This article has some great tips! I personally try putting TLC in all of my dishes when I cook, and make everything homemade. It works! When I was low on cash I bought some cheap chicken, a few carrots, and a packet of pastry and made delicious chicken pot pies once a week! My whole family loved it and the whole meal only cost $12.

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