One of my favorite places to save is in the kitchen. I can literally taste the savings! Bad puns aside, here are 13 ways I save money once I purchase my groceries. What are your best kitchen money savers?
1. Revive brown sugar. We’ve all been caught between a rock and hard brown sugar. Toss your sugar in a bag with a piece of bread, close it and wait a day. The sugar will absorb the moisture in the bread, which turns stale. End result? Pliable sugar.
2. Uses for old vegetables. Veggies that are soft or aesthetically past their prime are excellent in soups and sauces. Both dishes hold an aura of cooking competence but are one of the easiest things to prepare. Just toss in with liquid, set on a low temperate, and wait. Casseroles also do a great job of hiding blemished food.
3. Cook eggs in boiling water for 7 minutes then let sit, with the cover on, for 20 minutes. You use less electricity/gas and get perfectly boiled eggs.
4. Buy re-usable quick-drying sheets instead of sponges. A sponge costs $1 and lasts three months. A drying sheet costs $2 and lasts for two years. Crunch, crunch, crunch. That saves you $6, stinky fingers from handling moldy sponges. When the sheet gets dirty, toss it in the washer with your clothes and let it air dry. I’ve tried running sponges through the dishwasher, and the cleaning barely holds a week.
5. Make your own cleaning products. Vinegar, baking soda, and lemon work wonders. I tested these natural cleaners against store-bought products and found natural cleaners performed well on kitchen sink stains and on grimy bathroom tile.
6. Buy in bulk and on super sale. When the pricing is right and you’ve got storage, snagging steep discounts will payoff in the long run. Just make sure to avoid bulk purchases on items you don’t eat regularly. Flour attracts bugs, as does rice and other grains that sit around too long.
7. Be a freezer diva. No organizational skills necessary, though you do need to be a clever packer. I didn’t realize I had inherited my grandmother’s freezer diva-ness until I unpacked my freezer and found two chicken carcasses, seven half-full containers of pizza sauce, and a tube of limeade syrup. I was sitting on a frozen goldmine of food. It’s amazing how many breads, sauces, liquid, fruits, and meats last well if frozen.
8. Stretch meals. My mother hates leftovers and I have no idea why. It’s a free lunch! All you have to do it re-heat! In my book, leftovers beats sandwiches any day.
9. Wash plastic bags, unless they had meat. I re-use plastic bags, from produce holders to bread bags, all the time. They can double as saran warp, hold a sandwich, or cover a bowl of leftovers.
10. Make it a game. See how long you can go without a major grocery trip by cooking with what you have on hand. The Leftover Chef lets you plug in ingredients and suggests what to make.
11. Cook in bulk. Make extra, then freeze. If you have a tasty sauce or meal that only needs to be defrosted, you are more likely to eat that instead of ordering take out.
12. Preserve herbs by freezing them in cubes of butter or water. Drying is an option, too.
13. Instead of wasting food, turn it into garden compost. You can make your own composter for about $3. After it’s turned into dark, fertile soil, feed it to your plants, flowers, or lawn. Compost is the ultimate money saver!
What tricks am I missing? Please fill me in so we can all save more!