If there’s one room in most homes that could be considered a “money pit,” it’s the kitchen. I think I could go grocery shopping every single day and still never run out of things to buy. Everyone’s always hungry, always eating, always costing me money!
Way back during our ultra-frugal days, I had to look carefully for money-saving tricks if I hoped to make it to the next paycheck. I never went a week without making a menu plan, and I was an absolute genius at managing our grocery money.
I have to admit that right now, I know I need to tighten the belt when it comes to my grocery budget. Over time, I’ve let things slide a bit. Thankfully, after years of squeezing every last drop out of every last penny, I’ve learned some tricks for saving in the kitchen.
The more you start implementing these simple tips, the more you’ll be looking for the little ways you can save in your own kitchen. Every penny counts, and every cent adds up to dollars over time. Use these ideas as a springboard for your own money-saving solutions!
18 Simple Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen
1. Use green peppers instead of red peppers.
When making a recipe, use the cheaper green peppers, rather than the more expensive colored peppers. Also look for other less expensive produce you can use in recipes. Make an apple pie instead of blueberry. Serve carrots or sweet potatoes instead of green beans or asparagus.
2. Use dried herbs instead of buying fresh.
In many recipes, dried herbs can be substituted for fresh ones. You’ll want to use about a third of the amount of dried herbs as you would use for fresh (ie. one teaspoon dried herbs equals three teaspoons of fresh).
3. For fresh herbs, grow your own.
I have a brown thumb and tend to kill every plant that dares come through my door, but even I can usually grow herbs (at least for a little while). Growing your own, even if you only keep them alive long enough to use them a few times, is much cheaper than buying them in bunches or packs at the grocery store.
4. Cut out recipe ingredients that won’t be missed.
Unless you’re a chef or have a well-trained palate, you likely won’t be able to pick out every single flavor in a recipe. Be on the lookout for ingredients you can leave out without it having much effect on the finished dish.
5. Use plain yogurt instead of buttermilk.
I nearly always use diluted plain yogurt when making my biscuits or pancakes. As a general rule, I use about two-thirds yogurt and one-third milk. It’s not an exact science. You just want the yogurt to be thinned out a little without being too runny.
6. Make your own pancake syrup.
Seriously, syrup is one of the easiest things to make, and the ingredients are always on hand. My kids won’t even eat the bottled stuff because they like homemade syrup best.
7. Use dried beans instead of canned.
When making chili, beans and rice, or bean soup, use dried beans instead of canned. You can even pre-cook the beans and freeze them in two-cup portions in freezer bags so they’re easy to substitute for the canned version in recipes.
8. Make homemade chicken stock.
I love, love, love homemade chicken stock. I love using up the scraps of chicken, I love smelling it on the stove, I love how yummy it is in recipes like homemade chicken soup. It is so much better than the canned stuff!
9. Serve pasta. A lot.
10. Cut meat before serving.
We nearly always slice the meat before serving it. Meat stretches much further when you aren’t putting a whole steak or chicken breast on each person’s plate.
11. Prepare tacos for the family.
When the kids fix their own tacos, the meat seems to disappear before everyone even makes it through the line. When you fix the tacos all at once, you can “ration” the mean and stretch it to fill each shell. It helps to stand up the shells in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
12. Don’t serve dessert.
I may sound like a mean mom (and maybe I am), but I rarely ever make dessert. When the budget is tight, it’s too costly to use the eggs and butter in treats. Plus, when you only serve dessert occasionally, it’s truly special.
13. Plan for using leftovers.
Get creative with using leftovers on the menu plan. For each meal you plan, try to think of a second meal you can write on your menu that uses the leftovers. You’ll be much more likely to actually use them, if it’s written on your plan.
15. Make simple and inexpensive side dishes.
16. Bake homemade bread.
I used to make all of our bread. With practice, French bread was quick to make and everyone liked much more than the store-bought varieties. Plus, it’s much better for pairing with soups or serving beside pasta.
17. Buy bottled “real lemon juice” instead of lemons.
Lemons can be expensive! Bottled juice works just as well in most recipes. We even use it to make homemade lemonade and can’t tell a difference.
18. Use basic cookbooks without complex ingredients.
My favorite cookbooks use simple, basic ingredients that I usually have on hand. The cost of meals can really add up when you have to buy exotic or expensive ingredients that will only be used in one recipe that you aren’t even sure your family will like.