The kitchen is one of the places in your home where you spend the most time. In fact, it is also one of the places where you spend the most money! From modern gadgets to expensive food, spending on food and the kitchen can add up quite a bit.
We’re not saying you should give up your fancy coffee maker or stop buying your favorite organic chips, but there are a few small things you can put into practice to lower your overall spending. Subtle lifestyle changes that will help you be more efficient in the kitchen, cut down on waste and save money at the same time? Bring it on!
Create a meal plan
Meal planning is a great way to make things easier on yourself in terms of saving time and money. It may take a few minutes at first, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to put one together in minutes!
And the best thing about meal planning is that you can write down your shopping list right after, and you don’t have to speculate whether or not you need a particular ingredient. You only buy what you need for the week, and since you already know what you’re going to cook each day, this should minimize waste. Another way that meal planning can help you save money is by reducing the frequency with which you pick up takeout. Most people admit that they end up buying meals because they don’t know what to cook or they don’t have ingredients. Meal planning does away with these problems for you!
Make your grocery shopping efficient
The first thing you should do before you go grocery shopping is make a list! If you are a notorious over-shopper, this is the best way to stay focused and get only what you need. If you’re on a tight budget, you can even calculate the price of each item and bring enough money to pay for it (don’t forget to leave your cards at home!).
Planning meals should help you make a comprehensive list of everything you need for the week. Better yet, plan for 2 weeks and do your shopping all at once! After all, the best strategy for saving money at the grocery store is to not go there!
Make the most of it
Let’s face it, cooking can be a difficult task, especially when you consider that you have to do it three times a day, every day! But you can reduce the time you spend in the kitchen by making the most of your meals. I often make a double portion of what I’m cooking so I can freeze half. That way I have another meal sorted. Cooking a larger amount usually doesn’t take much longer than a smaller amount, so it’s a good idea to save time and money.
Making things from scratch is another way to save a lot of money. Ready-made food undergoes a lot of processing, which increases the price (not to mention additives and preservatives). When you make things yourself, you know exactly what goes into it, and again, you can make more so you can use the leftovers for another meal.
You should also make sure you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole foods, so you get the most nutritional value from what you eat. Often these foods are also a lot cheaper than the junk food, so it’s definitely a win-win!
It’s sad to think that 40% of America’s food supply is wasted. It is up to me and you to bring that figure down by making sure we are doing our part. You can do that by making sure you don’t buy more food than you need and that leftovers are eaten too. And don’t open a new packet or bottle until the previous one is completely empty!
Another way to reduce waste is to wash and reuse the trays and bags you get along with your food. Instead of throwing them in the trash, you can use them in another way. Or better yet, invest in reusable trays or bags that you can take to the grocery store.
Avoid disposable items
Use reusable items such as trays, cutlery, plates, etc. as much as possible. The cost of disposables can add up quite a bit over time, so make sure you bring some plates and cups when you go on a picnic and/or barbecue.
Also, try to avoid paper towels and napkins. These are for one-time use and can cause a lot of waste. Instead, invest in cloth napkins. You can get them cheaply at thrift stores or on sale, and then you’ll have a few nice ones for when the occasion calls for them. At the same time, you can build a collection of rags from old, worn clothes that can also be used for cleaning purposes.
Use smart appliances in smart ways
There are ways to use the appliances in your kitchen in such a way that you get the best results, and of course save time and money at the same time. For example, it has been proven that washing dishes with a dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand. Although it’s better to wait until you have a full load to start the dishwasher, studies have shown that even smaller loads save you money over hand washing! You can save even more money by turning off your dishwasher’s drying mode and letting the dishes air dry.
Also, don’t run your oven in the summer, when there is already a lot of warm air in the house. Adding more heat to it will make your air conditioner work harder and therefore use more electricity. Instead, consider investing in a slow-cooker. It uses less energy than an oven and produces some beautiful meals that are also hassle-free. An instant pot can also be a lifesaver in many situations where you don’t have time and think your only option is to order takeout.
Finally, be sure to unplug your small appliances as they can consume electricity even when not in use!