Guest post from Kyle of The Penny Hoarder
When every penny counts, you want to make the most of your household budget. To stretch your hard-earned dollars even further, why not try some unorthodox ways to save money in the kitchen?
1. Wash and Reuse Aluminum Foil and Zip-Closure Bags
I can’t be the only one whose parents ran a thrifty kitchen. This was one of my mom’s favorite strategies.
Wash out your tinfoil and zip-closure bags, let them air dry and use them again. Some people advise against reusing plastic bags that have had raw meat or moldy food in them, but most plastic bags can be used many times before they start to degrade.
2. Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels
You’ve probably seen those commercials where people show off the strength of their paper towel by wringing out the towel like it was a rag.
Well, why not just use a rag? You’ll save money on paper towels and never have to worry about an empty roll! Simply cut up an old T-shirt or some old socks to create your own cleaning rags.
3. Turn Leftover Veggies and Bones into Stock
This tip helps keep food waste to a minimum — even food you wouldn’t normally think of eating.
Get a few more meals out of your veggie peels, ends, bones, and meat scraps before throwing them away. Find a good stock recipe, toss in your leftovers and simmer. Try this vegetable stock recipe, or follow these guidelines to make beef, turkey or chicken stock.
4. Freeze Seasonal Produce
Don’t pay for out-of-season produce. Buy fruits and veggies at their cheapest, then freeze them to last all year.
Some items are more appetizing frozen whole, while others are better in pieces or pureed. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has helpful guides for freezing everything from apples to zucchini.
5. Learn How to Can Food
Here’s another one you might have seen your grandma doing: canning food. Home canning is a staple of money-saving kitchens, although it’s becoming more of a trend as people realize it’s a great way to enjoy their favorite fruits and veggies all winter long.
You’ll want to be careful, because improperly canned food can carry botulism. For meat, seafood or vegetables, you should use a pressure canner and follow guidelines like the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning. Canning fruit using a water-bath canner? Make sure to boil your canning for as long as the recipe says, adding an additional minute for every 1,000 ft above sea level to account for the effects of altitude on boiling temperature.
6. Get Deals on Bruised Produce
Many bruised fruits and vegetables are totally safe to eat, as long as you avoid anything with mold or where the bruise has broken the skin.
Go to a farmer’s market and ask if the vendors have any “seconds,” or fruits and vegetables that might be too bruised to display. Bruised bananas make the best banana bread!
7. Bake in Ceramic or Glass Dishes
Ceramic and glass containers conduct heat better than metal containers, according to Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic.
The next time you bake that cake or casserole, use a ceramic or glass dish. You’ll be able to reduce your oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which saves both energy and money!
8. Turn the Heat Off When Cooking Pasta
When you cook pasta, let it boil for about two or three minutes, then turn off the heat and keep the lid closed, recommends Vasil. Your pasta will cook perfectly in about 15-20 minutes, though the first time you try this, you may want to test it sooner than that to find the perfect amount of time for your brand of noodles.
9. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Don’t forget about saving money when you clean up!
You may already be familiar with vinegar and baking soda cleaners, but take a look at this list of 52 DIY Natural Cleaners and learn how to make even more cleaning products to help you scrub and disinfect.
Do you do all of these things? Why or why not? What ideas would you add to this list?
Kyle Taylor is the founder of The Penny Hoarder, a popular blog about weird ways to earn and save money. His blog is read by more than 5 million readers a month and has been featured on Oprah.com, ABC News, Men’s Health and Woman’s World magazine