There’s no getting around it: grocery shopping and dining out is just a necessary part of life. And while everyone needs to eat, cooking for you and your family can be quite expensive—especially for anyone who’s trying to live on a tight budget.
Luckily, with some helpful tricks (and proper planning), it’s totally possible to save money while treating your family to a delicious home-cooked meal on a regular basis. Here are just 19 of the most practical kitchen tips to help you save lots of moolah this year…
If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance you spend too much money at the grocery store each week. What to do? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save money while still cooking tasty meals using a few simple tricks…
1. Buy bulk items and freeze them for future meals: There’s no point in passing up a good deal at Costco just because you don’t have plans to eat that food this week. Some foods that keep well in the freezer are fruit, meat, vegetables, and cheese.
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2. Turn your fresh produce into jam or pickle it: Not only will learning to pickle and can your own vegetables save you money, but it will also allow you to know exactly what’s going into that food you’re eating. It’s a win-win!
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3. Follow budget dinner and food blogs online: There’s nothing worse than being hungry and having to pick between eating well and eating cheaply. That’s why people suggest the website Budget Bytes, which offers not only delicious recipes, but affordable ones, too!
4. Buy the tougher, less expensive cuts of meat… and slow-cook it: Of course, when buying meat, you always want the most tender product available. But you can save money when you opt for tougher cuts and simply pop them into a slow-cooker!
5. Use vegetables that will regrow from their own scraps: Keeping your own garden can be pretty expensive if you’re planting every year. Why not save yourself some money by keeping veggies—like green onions and celery—that regrow all on their own?
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6. Try purchasing spices from the bulk section: One way people waste a ton of money in the kitchen is by purchasing tiny bottles of spices. Instead, just fill up a large jar or bag from the bulk section. Your wallet will thank you!
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7. Purchase whole chickens: Since chicken is relatively inexpensive, it’s smart to buy an entire chicken—instead of wings or breasts—and to learn how to break it down. That way, you can make several meals out of the same bird. Just keep the other parts in the freezer until they’re needed.
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8. Freeze vegetable scraps in a Ziploc bag: No, you won’t have to eat leftover green beans and carrots for a week! Instead, use them to make your very own vegetable stock. Best of all, you can store them in your freezer for up to a month without them going bad.
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9. Freeze your leftover vegetable stock into ice cubes for later use: Let’s face it: you normally toss leftover stock down the drain when you’re finished, right? If you freeze it, however, you can enjoy more of that delicious flavor in the future, at no additional cost.
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10. Utilize the grocery store salad bar for pre-cut produce and other sides: Not only will you save money, but you’ll save yourself the headache of having to prepare the items for your dish, too.
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11. Turn rotisserie chickens into several meals: If you’re cooking for one or two people, it’s easy to turn these delicious and inexpensive birds into several meals. Just set aside the parts you want later in the week, and prepare them in all sorts of ways.
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12. Prevent freezer burn by buying a FoodSaver: Most people waste money by throwing away expired food. Avoid that happening to you by investing in a FoodSaver so you can seal and store your uncooked meats and vegetables for months!
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13. Learn to plan meals for the entire week: Meal prep takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it. You’ll not only be able to buy only what you need to last you in that time, but you won’t have to worry about cooking anything new during the week!
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14. Make your own frozen dinners for the week: Whether it’s lasagna, chicken, or vegetables, it’s easy to freeze them in a bag and save them for a later date. When you get home from a long day at the office, all you have to do is pop one of these bad boys in the microwave!
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15. Make homemade stock from old chicken and turkey leftovers: If you went through the trouble of cooking a full bird, why not use every last part of it? The oil and broth at the bottom of the pan makes for the perfect stock, saving you tons on the store-bought kind.
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16. Find deals at your local farmer’s market: Just be sure to go right before it closes. This way, you’ll get all the bests deals from sellers who are looking to get rid of their perishables at the end of the day. Eating inexpensively never tasted so delicious!
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17. Keep root vegetable fresher for longer in sand: It sounds crazy, but why not give your veggies a beach day? Researchers have found that keeping root vegetables, like carrots, in sand can help them stay fresher for longer.
18. Keep onions, garlic, and shallots in paper bags: Sure, this might sound odd, but if you poke holes into a paper bag, you can keep these vegetables fresher for a whole lot longer. It’s not often that you have to use an entire onion for a recipe, so why not save it for later?
19. Make and freeze your own baby food: New parents often spend loads of money figuring out the foods their children will eat. Once you discover the ones your kids like, try pureeing and freezing it so feeding them is simpler!
You’re going to save so much money by using these cooking tips and tricks, you won’t know what to do with it! How many of these have you already tried?
Share these awesome money-saving techniques with your friends below!