Most of us are on tight budgets, and we’re looking for savings by maximizing our cars’ fuel efficiency, cutting back on entertainment spending, shopping sales and buying used.
The kitchen might not be the most obvious place to try to save big money – and we’re not just talking about grocery coupons.
But there are substantial savings to be had in the room where the average woman (or, as is the case in my house, the average man) spends 18 years of her life.
Try a few of these “pinchin’ in the kitchen” tips. They may not all work or be effective for you, your family and your lifestyle – with four kids you may have to run the dishwasher every day. But pick and choose the suggestions that are right for you and watch the savings add up! Then sock those funds away for Christmas!
- Make your food last longer by storing it the right way. Properly package and freeze or store foods properly. For example, apples in the crisper drawer and crackers in a cool, dry cabinet. Avoid the temptation to overbuy, especially foods with short shelf lives, such as dairy products and produce. If you won’t use it before it spoils, it’s a waste.
- Click here for a comprehensive list of food storage and safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Clean and freshen your garbage disposal with lemons. We often use lemons and lemon juice in cooking or to make our own iced tea, and we always throw the juiced lemons in the garbage disposal. Lemon helps break up gunk buildup in the disposal, and leaves it smelling lemony fresh. You can also add ice or rock salt with the lemon to your garbage disposal. The ice or salt will help clear the grooves of ground food scraps.
- DIY kitchen cleanser: In a glass bowl, mix ¼ cup baking soda with hydrogen peroxide until it makes a paste. This super cheap and simple cleanser is unexpectedly effective, cleaning stovetops, appliances, countertops, pots and pans, kitchen tools and more. The peroxide brings to the party unbeatable cleaning abilities, and the baking soda absorbs and neutralizes bad smells.
- Run the dishwasher only when it’s full, to save on electricity, water and dishwasher detergent. Don’t overfill the dishwasher, though. You’re not saving if you have to re-wash things that didn’t come clean the first time.
- Rinse and re-use zipper storage bags. If a simple rinse still leaves the bag dirty, wash with a bit of dish detergent. Turn the bag inside out and upside down to dry completely. Do not reuse bags if they contained raw meat or anything else that might spread salmonella or other bacteria.
- Make your own mixes. This website has “quick mix” recipes you can keep on hand in your pantry, for brownies, pancakes, gingerbread, biscuits, cornbread, maple brown sugar oatmeal, tortillas. You’ll save money by making your own instead of buying, and in addition you can control the ingredients and quality of your mixes, and you’ll always have what you need on hand.
- Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. If your family eats a lot of pasta, consider investing in a pasta machine or pasta attachment for your stand mixer. Buy a breadmaker to make your own bread, and customize ingredients to your family’s needs and tastes. Other worthwhile kitchen investments include a cast-iron skillet (which cared for properly, will last forever), a quality mixer, a really good set of knives and an accurate, durable measuring cup.