April 13, 2014

Kitchen Tips: Easy and Odd Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen

Oct11

Last week, I shared some of my top money saving tips that make a difference in our food budget. You all joined in with some of your favorites.

This week, I thought it would be helpful to share some kitchen tips of easy and odd ways that I save money without even realizing it. Some of these are so second nature to the way I run my kitchen, but I realize they may not be to everyone.

  1. (The best ideas are going to be the ones you leave in the comments)
  2. Rinse out your can of spaghetti sauce with a tiny bit of water and use it. Don’t let it go to waste. I know, you probably all do this, but my sister in law told me that years ago and it was eye opening. Considering how many jars of spaghetti sauce I have used nearly every week since I was single, that extra bit probably equals thousands of dollars of sauce. :) I do this for cans of creamed soup as well. You know that little bit you can’t get out? Use milk and rinse it out right into your recipe.
  3. Reuse bags and not just Ziplock bags, but bread bags, bagel bags, produce bags etc. Those nice sized clean bags I reuse. Since Ziplock bags are typically an item that I get inexpensively with my coupons, I am not one of those that washes them out if I use them for liquid or meat/messy type of items, but I always reuse them if I just have snacks or chips. When you’re done with your bagels, just shake out the extra crumbs and use again. My “baggie drawer” is full of a variety of sized bags that I consistently use for re-wrapping, covering etc.
  4. Grate dried cheese. Did the kids forget to reseal the block of cheese in its wrapper and now they want to throw it out? Don’t – it’s perfectly edible. Just use a cheese grater to shred and top your next casserole with that dried cheese.
  5. Don’t throw away stale bread and bread crusts. Use those pieces that the kids won’t eat and make my favorite Cream Cheese French Toast casserole or easy home made croutons
  6. Keep a “catch all” bowl in your fridge for odds and ends veggies. Do you have only a handful of carrots left or one half of a zucchini? They’re fine, but there’s definitely not enough for any recipe? Combine all those veggies for your weekly Stone Soup (homemade vegetable soup).
  7. Save money by using powdered milk or buttermilk in baking recipes. There are so many times I want to make a “buttermilk” recipe, but I don’t have any on hand. I have started storing powdered buttermilk and you can’t tell the difference at all. As to regular milk? I would never drink powdered milk, but it really is a wonderful convenience item that is not only a healthier option, stores much longer, but is also much less expensive – perfect for many recipes.
  8. Use cereal boxes to store magazines. If your magazines are running over, but you haven’t had a chance to cut out your favorite recipes yet, cut the lid off of the box and add a diagonal slit making an easy magazine holder. Let the kids paint, cover or decorate it.
  9. If the kids are smelling the milk, it’s time to use it up for a wonderful cream based soup. Don’t pour it down the drain.
  10. Don’t throw the left over coffee away. Freeze it in ice cube trays for inexpensive iced coffee treats.
  11. Soften HARD brown sugar by adding bread to the bag – check out this post for details.
  12. Re-heat your chips. I’m adding this one in after dinner tonight. I went to grab our tortilla chips to layer our taco salad and they were stale. UGH! Someone had left the bag open. I threw them on a pan, stuck them in our toaster oven for a few minutes and they were delicious,even better than before. I do this for crackers, Cheetos, Doritos – lots of snack foods.
  13. Start saving scraps for your garden. If you have any biodegradable food items, put them in a compost. I would not consider myself a “green blogger” by any means, but I do keep a little bucket where all my scraps are thrown. They either go to my chickens (which isn’t really an option for most of you) or right into my garden in a small “compost” section. By next spring, it will be dirt of gold.

Some of these ideas may seem so minuscule in the scope of saving money, but if you take the savings of a few dollars a week over the course of a lifetime, combined with interest, you’d be surprised at how the return will be tremendous.

collage TT31

I’d love to hear some of your money saving tips directly related to the kitchen.

Share those ideas that might not get a whole blog post dedicated to the topic, but it’s just helpful enough that we’d all love to learn it. So, click on the comment bottom at the end of this post and SHARE AWAY! Your tip just may be featured in a Kitchen Tips Round up that I do in a few weeks. :)


Comments

  1. Great tips! I had never thought to crisp up my chips like that. I am going to have to remember that one. Thanks!

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  2. I have another good idea. Don’t throw away the leftover tortilla chips at the end of the bag. Save them by popping them in the freezer until you have 2-3 C. crushed. You can make an excellent enchilada soup with them. In a little melted butter, soften onion and garlic. Add chicken broth and canned tomatoes with chilis. Then add the crushed leftover tortilla chips. Run it through the blender or use a mill to puree it. The chips thicken it and give it an incredible flavor.

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  3. I’ve been doing the spaghetti sauce thing for years, except that I’ll use wine to rinse the jar if I have an open bottle. Not only does it get the last bit of sauce out, but it makes cheaper sauces taste fancier. Another thing I will do is to use “soured milk” in place of buttermilk in recipes. If your recipe calls for 1c of milk you put 1T vinegar in your measuring cup and then fill it the rest of the way to the 1c line. Let it sit for 10 minutes and it works as well as buttermilk. I’ve never heard the bread trick for hard brown sugar, but an apple slice works pretty well too as does storing the brown sugar bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. I also save my veggie trimmings and meat bones in the freezer until I have enough to make stock and then throw them in the crockpot with water and herbs to cook overnight. In the morning I measure it out into tupperware containers and freeze it for later so I don’t have to buy canned stock.

    Thanks for posting these ideas, most of them I knew, but some were new. I can’t wait to see what else is posted in the comments.

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  4. We’ve saved a lot of money by eating soup once a week, usually Stone Soup. Remember the children’s book? Well, I empty the refrigerator and throw some water/broth/sauce, beans/meat, vegetables, and some rice/pasta/potatoes in a crockpot and let it bubble away. It’s never the same soup twice and we love it. I serve it with a loaf of fresh bread from the breadmaker.

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  5. Great list!

    We use cereal crumbs as topping on yogurt.

    I keep a chili pot in the fridge – any leftovers with a tomato base (taco meat, Spanish rice, baked beans, spaghetti sauce) go in there to make “Miracle Leftover Chili”.

    I use dried out tortillas to make tortilla chips. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt, use a pizza cutter to make triangles and bake at 450 until crunchy.

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  6. Your tips are wonderful – I can’t think of any to add, except to say that I do the rinsing out the spaghetti sauce jar thing with ketchup jars too. (Ketchup is a great addition to the sauces for shepherd’s pies, chilli recipes etc.)

    Thanks for hosting Tasty Tuesday!

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  7. I save all of my butter wrappers in the freezer and use them to grease pans when baking.

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  8. I thought I was the only one that throws a little water at the bottom of the jar to get every last bit!? Ha ha!

    Awesome tips! Thanks for hosting. I’m kinda new. :)

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  9. I love the tips! Great ones from your readers too. I’ve been trying to get more smart and frugel. We live in a country that is full of waste and I’m seeing it more and more. Thanks again!!

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  10. Thanks for hosting. I like all your tips, especially crisping chips in the oven. Great idea!

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  11. Here is a post I did on how to stretch your budget with dried beans :-)

    http://wp.me/pQ22F-2nJ

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  12. I keep a container inthe freezer that I add all the left over spagetti sauce to. When we make pizza and we have just one or two tablespoons of sauce left, it goes in the container. We serve out sauce and noodles separately, so when we have a little extra sauce left over from a pasta dinner, we add it to the container. When the container is full, I use it for pasta instead of opening a new can of spaghetti sauce.

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    Becky K. Reply:

    @Angi, Ooh, great idea! Thanks!

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  13. Since it’s only my husband and me at home, when I open a new can/jar of something that I can’t use all of, I freeze the remainder in portions. That way, it uses up the whole jar, and when I just need a portion or two of, say, spaghetti sauce, I just grab a bag out of the freezer. I also freeze soups and chili in portions. Makes for easy lunches too! Love your posts!!

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  14. Thanks for making me feel good this morning! :) I too, already do a lot of the suggestions that you have highlighted. However, I have NEVER thought about grating the dried cheese! Fabulous!!

    Love your blog! :)

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  15. “Free” Wax paper: our family eats a lot of cold cereal, and I used to throw away the inner bag until a friend told me that she rinses and reuses them. What a great thing! Now I give them a quick rinse, and let them air dry in my rack. I use them for everything from a sandwich baggy (I leave them in their bag form) or when I make pizza, I gently open the seams and have a large piece of wax paper to set my mounds of dough on… I havn’t bought wax paper in months.

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  16. My first time stopping by your party! Looks like lots of great recipes!

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  17. Yep, I wash out plastic bags, too. I also cut napkins and papertowels in half.

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  18. I have a friend who started keeping a paper half gallon milk carton in her freezer..every dab of extra/leftover vegetable, broth, cooking water..meat..you name it..goes into the carton. She just keeps layering until its full. She then thaws and heats for soup!

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  19. I use coffee grounds as fertilizer for acid loving plants.

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  20. I keep a stock of those microwave-steaming veggies in the freezer for whenever there aren’t any good deals on fresh produce. Its just me and the hubs at home, and sometimes we don’t finish off a whole bag of the veggies, so I freeze whatever is left over and then throw those into soups or casseroles.

    My new favorite thing is buying and reconstituting/cooking dried beans rather than buying canned. You get sssoo much more for the money! I’ve been using up a huge bag of black beans I cooked for a couple weeks now- cost me a dollar!

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  21. Great tips. Not only great on your pocketbook, but good for the environment as well. Less waste is good all the way around. :)

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  22. I don’t use paper products in the kitchen. I have a drawer full of dishtowels that I have received as gifts. And I made napkins from old bed sheets. I use them instead of paper towels & then toss them in the wash {my laundry level has not increased since I made the switch}.

    I’ve also noticed that dish towels are in plentiful supply at most thrift stores, so if you don’t have a stack, start there, don’t bother buying new!

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  23. Great tips! I always use dried beans also. The canned ones are so expensive! A lot of great recipes posted this week on Tasty Tuesday!

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  24. I cut stuff in half. Like the scrubbing pads and even fabric softeners. Since I am only feeding my hubby and me If I make a casserole. I seperate them into two containers that are smaller then me “Party Casserole” dish and put one in the freezer while I cook the other. Makes an easy meal when I am not home and hubby needs dinner. “Pop 350 45″ Is on most of my casseroles. Stands for Pop in oven at 350 for 45 mins. It’s husband proof.

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  25. Here’s how I save money:
    I keep my old bread and make croutons as well. We also have meatless meals a few times a week. I make my own pancake and biscuit mix. I also keep odds and ends of veggies, like mushrooms stems to cook and put on a sandwich.

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  26. Love the tips here!!!
    Do melted ice cubes ruin your glass of soda? Avoid watery drinks by filling a plastic cup 1/3 full of your favorite soda then freezing it. When you want a drink, you can take a frozen cup from the freezer, top it off, and drink :)

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  27. Wonderful ideas! to save money, I limit paper products like napkins, paper towels etc. I’d rather launder the real thing than pay for paper!

    e-Mom @ Susannah’s {Kitchen}

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  28. Leftover chips can be frozen. Make sure they’re in a well-sealed freezer bag, and they’ll be just as fresh when you get them out as when you put them in.

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  29. I use the plastic grocery bags by taking one out for each meal (I know some of you refuse plastic bags and I’m proud of you but since I have them I use them). I put all the peelings, trash, etc. from that one meal, tie it off and throw in the garbage can outside. No smells or mess in the kitchen or inside trash.

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  30. we’ve been trying to go shopping less, and use what we already have at home. sometimes it gets tricky, but it’s been great to save money. a lot of times i’ll go to allrecipes and then put in the ingredients that we have, and just see what comes up! it’s a great way to be creative in your meal planning, and find new recipes!

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  31. Great ideas! I’ll have to try the grated cheese one; never heard of that.

    An extension of saving leftover veggies for soups… save the peels from most veggies and some fruits to make vegetable stock (or meat stock if you also save bones from cooked chicken, turkey, beef or pork). I explain how in this post: http://quickeasycheaphealthy.blogspot.com/2010/03/something-from-nothing-or-vegetable.html

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  32. I don’t have any earthshattering tips…but
    -If I get plastic bags while shopping I pop them in the trunk of my car and reuse for dirty shoes or clothes (mom to 2 boys) or at stores that charge for bags.
    -I save all trays trays and egg cartons–wash WELL and then use as paint trays or for crafts with the kids
    -I don’t garden, but I do save all food scraps to compost…when my neighbor starts his garden I give him the compost…he then gives me tons of homegrown produce!

    Thanks to all for the great tips!

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  33. Thank you for the wonderful tips! One of the things we do in our home is intentional leftovers with a twist. Our daughter is sensitive to dairy and our son doesn’t care for tomato-based sauces. I am trying to eat lighter (since turning 30 my metabolism has slowed) and my husband enjoys a heavy meal. Throughout the week I will make recipes we all eat, and I focus on making a little extra for the family member in our home who *loves* that specific type of food. On the weekends, instead of cooking lunches or dinners, we each are treated to our own, personal, favorite lunch or dinner from earlier in the week. For instance I may top a salad with leftover grilled chicken, my husband would indulge in the beef leftovers, our son would enjoy fettuccine and our daughter loves twice-baked spaghetti. This way, we utilize leftovers and are all happy about eating our favorite meal twice in one week! :)

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  34. I’m such a nerd, I was happy to see I do most of your tips… means I’m on the right path! yay!

    Only thing I can think of is that it’s always cheaper to buy the bigger cans of broth, but I don’t use as much. So I pour in the ice cube tray and freeze for easy later use!

    Oh and we always have just enough pot roast leftover to throw it in a pie pan with some frozen veggies a little brown gravy, slap a pie crust on top and you have a very yummy pot pie!

    Question for you, if you don’t mind…How do you keep your “baggie drawer” organized? I try to save all the baggies and bags I can but it gets so crazy I throw them in recycling and start over to save my sanity sometimes!

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    Bobbiann Reply:

    @Tys, One thing you could try is stuffing your bags into an empty Kleenex box. That should keep them corralled.

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  35. If I ever make a can of chicken noodle soup for the kids, I save the broth that is always left over and freeze it for another soup another day. Same with gravy and sauces in general!

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  36. Love the ice cube trick for leftover coffee. And grating the hard cheese. My mom taught me so many tricks years ago, but I have to admit I have been BAD about using some of them. Thanks for the refresher tips, Jen! xo

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  37. So many great ideas!! I can’t think of any to add other than I never throw away our leftovers from a meal, even if it’s only enough for a small serving. I either refrigerate or freeze and it comes in handy for a lunch for my hubs to take to work or one for me to eat at home during the day. I also try to double or triple recipes when I make them so there’s enough left for another meal – can be saved for later in the week or frozen.

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  38. Betsy Madison says:

    One of my saving tricks is to finally realize some things are cheaper to buy than to make. Our SAMS club sells frozen balls of pizza dough at the cafe. For $15.82, I get 16 frozen dough balls. I’ll place one in a greased bowl, on the counter, before I leave for work. When I get home in the afternoon, there’s a lovely bowl of risen pizza dough. The best news…there’s enough dough for 2 large thin crust pizzas. We use leftover veges and meats for a variety of toppings.

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  39. Michelle H. says:

    Thanks for all the great tips!

    I keep a bag in the freezer for carrot peels, onion ends, and celery tops. After I roast a chicken I use the frozen vegetables to make stock, rather than cutting up fresh veggies.

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  40. These are some amazing tips! I have seen and use some of them and others are new. I love them. Thank you to everyone for sharing :)

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  41. Just a quick caution–traditional cereal bags are coated with BHT, a preservative that may carry health risks. Organic cereal bags aren’t. Just FYI.

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  42. Did you know that if you add 1-1/2 cups of water to the meat sauce in your lasagna recipe, you do not have to cook your noodles ahead of time. I rinse my sauce jar with that water and add it in and it saves me time and money.

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  43. Here’s hoping I’m not too late to jump on! My husband is a real beef-eater, and steaks can quickly get expensive. Lately, I’ve been buying family packs of minute steaks (those pre-tenderized portions of round steak) & storing them in the freezer. I can pull out how many portions I need for dinnner, and they taste wonderful! I made a beef-broccli-noodle stir fry tonight with some, and have made stroganov and lots of other beef dishes. They don’t take a long time to cook, taste great, and are already tender without chemicals!

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  44. So where’s the recipe for the Cream Cheese French Toast casserole? Am I missing something? : )

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  45. For cheap mid-week dinners, I like to have a stash of frozen leftovers that the family can choose from to use as toasted sandwich fillers :).

    Our family favourites are taco mince with grated cheese, leftover roast meat and vegies with gravy, and pretty much any leftover casserole. The trick is to store the leftovers in ready-to-cook single-use servings so they’re quick to defrost.

    I usually make our own bread (from scratch takes me less than 5 minutes with a breadmaker), but keep a couple of loaves of sliced bread in the freezer for this purpose.

    A nice soup makes this a very filling meal. :)

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  46. I like to keep at least a weeks worth of homemade bread in the freezer. I usually make 14 loaves at a time and take them out when we need them. I find that homemade bread makes for a much more substantial dinner when you’re settling for grilled cheese/whatever leftovers I have that would be yummy smashed between two slices of bread.

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  47. I know this is an old thread but when we have spaghetti we always use the entire jar of sauce but we always have leftover noodles left.
    I started putting the 1/2 C of leftovers into a baggie in the freezer. After a handful of times of eating spaghetti with the family we have enough noodles for an entire dinner of spaghetti.
    So don’t throw away the leftover noodles, no matter now trivial the amount looks at first!

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  48. How about just buying in bulk? You can usually buy a 25 lb bag of dry goods for less than the price of two 5 lb bags. The excess can be stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers for 30+ years.

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    Jen Reply:

    Absolutely – I addressed that exact tip in a post all of its own. We live by buying in bulk. :)

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  49. WASH YOUR POTATOES WELL BEFORE PEELING THEM FOR BOILING. DRAIN THE PEELS AND PUT IN A DOUBLE PAPER TOWEL IN A PLASTIC BAG. STORE IN THE FRIDGE UNTIL DRY – MINE KEEP FOR UP TO A WEEK. DEEP FRY THEM FOR A QUICK SNACK OR A SIDE WITH A SANDWICH.

    USE YOUR DAY OLD DONUTS, CINNAMON BUNS, AND THE LIKE IN YOUR BREAD PUDDING. THE NUTS, CHERRIES, GLAZES, RAISINS, ETC ARE WONDERFUL IN THE PUDDING.

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