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9 More Ways to Save Money in Your Kitchen

ways to save more in the kitchen

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.

For delicious (and safe) canning recipes, check out the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or Food in Jars.

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, ABC News, Men’s Health and Woman’s World magazine

photo source

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  • Kate P. says:

    I was so excited last summer to find peach seconds at our farmers market! I cut them up and freeze them for our favorite smoothies, so it doesn’t matter how unattractive they are, and I can process them quickly so they won’t go bad before I can get to them. They’re so much better than frozen peaches from the store!

  • Lana says:

    I do all of these but recently I looked at all the containers in my cabinets and decided that I should be using those instead of ziplocs. They can go through the dishwasher too which means no more dripping bags draped over everything in the kitchen. Plus, they will last many times over what a ziploc does and I already own them.

    • Leah says:

      Me too!!

      Plus, when I do use them, washing/reusing Ziploc bags is just not worth it for me. I’ll pay the extra .02 to avoid wasting my time washing and drying them!

      But I really like her tips!

    • Kristel says:

      I also use a lot of reusable Ziploc containers but my problem is keeping them clean. The containers seem to get these white stains and I still end up throwing them out. Anyone else have this problem and better a solution?

      • Jessica says:

        Glass containers are great! They don’t get stains or hold odors. The kind we bought have plastic lids and we accidentally left one of the lids on a hot burner. We had to toss it, and I was actually able to find replaceable lids straight off of the brand’s website. We haven’t bought it yet as we’ve just been using plastic wrap or foil for that particular container. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the potential of harmful chemicals in plastic containers. Our glass containers have definitely been worth the extra investment.

  • Winter says:

    I reuse the plastic Ziplock bags (or whatever brand I buy- usually, it’s Great Value). I also re-use the plastic grocery bags that come from the stores- though I guess I should just start using my own bags. 🙂

  • Dani says:

    Alternate method for cooking pasta – If you add your pasta to the pot of water when you put it on the stove it will start cooking as the water heats and it’s usually done very shortly after the pot teaches a full boil. You’ll need to stir a couple times to prevent it from sticking, but this works very well, especially for short, fat noodles like rotelle and macaroni.

  • Katie L says:

    I don’t reuse Al foil or plastic baggies– but we have lots of reusable containers, so I don’t use too many plastic baggies in the first place. I have been buying “manager’s special” bananas for smoothies. I peel them, break them in half, and freeze them (in one of those reusable plastic containers!) and they’re ready to blend. They’re about half price this way.

  • Kim says:

    What’s the most efficient way to dry ziplocks?

    I wash & reuse the bags I’ve purchased carrots, cheese, or tortillas in. They hold at least one quart of food, & work great for bread, taco shells, crackers, & many other items. I stock up & freeze flour when it’s on sale; I use the same 2 gallon “flour bags” multiple times.

    • Laura says:

      Oh I wish I knew! I tend to dump ziplocs I use for dry things like bread, etc. in a big pile and only wash them when they begin to threaten to take over the kitchen. Then, of course I have wet bags draped all over – and they sometimes take a full day to dry! I really like the Hefty slider bags and usually get great deals on them with coupons and sales – but they still aren’t always the cheapest bags. I figure if I use them twice, though, they’re really only half the price, right? But that drying conundrum – how to keep them open for air circulation is the real key. Someone ought to invent something and patent it and make a mint.

      • Marcia Rhinehart says:

        When we wash Ziploc bags at church, one of the ladies told me to turn it inside out to dry. It is easier to clean that way too.

        If you are looking for a way to to clean the Ziploc plastic storage containers — I put them in the top rack of the dishwasher. I only do this with the containers that say they are dishwasher safe though.

      • Edie says:

        When I wash my zip lock I quickly put them in the freezer when I need one I just take one out and dry that particular one. No fuss.

  • Paula says:

    Wax paper is something I never normally buy. I reuse the wax paper from various cereal and cracker boxes. It is more durable than store bought as well.

  • I’ve gone back and forth between Ziplocs and reusable containers, especially for my kids’ lunches. I really like reusable containers for cost and eco-friendliness, but my kids (especially my preschooler) tend to throw them away. So I’ve started putting their names on Ziploc bags of things that aren’t “gross” to reuse (like crackers). They usually remember to bring them home when they see their name written on them, and I can reuse the bags. And hopefully, some day soon we’ll get back to the reusable container stage. 🙂

  • Sheila says:

    I always used plastric wrap on bowls for left overs and to reheat. Using my plastic containers and their snap on lids for storage now. Heating food in microwaveable dishware with a plate over it to steam it and prevent splatter. It is easy and goes into the dishwasher instead of the landfill.

  • denise says:

    Along the lines of canning/freezing if you can plant a garden!!!

    Also, I buy the lunchmeat at Aldi that comes in a reuseabl

  • Star says:

    I love using reusable “zip bags!” Our favorite brand is called Lunchskins. We’ve purchased a few more sets each year as our family has grown. My husband uses them every day for his lunch. Our kindergartener uses them daily too and has not thrown ANY away (so it is possible!). I use them for on the go snacks/lunches for my little girls too. The BEST part is that they can go in the dishwasher!!!

  • Amie says:

    I also buy the reduced fruit. We eat what we can and freeze it the rest. We have a new-ish store in town that had marked down bananas for $0.69-0.99 for 6-8 bunches in a bag. We froze them for banana muffins. I have picked up onions and peppers that I cut up, flash froze, and put in a freezer bag. I take out just what I need for cooking. It works great. I bought some inexpensive wash cloths years ago and we use them instead of sponges and rags. I only use paper towels for pet messes.

  • Sarah In the rocket city says:

    I love zip bags because they give me the best organization and storage capacity in my “mini” chest freezer. I stock up when they are on sale because for sanitary reasons they shouldn’t be reused (meat/dairy). Also a lot of things can be frozen flat like soup and they thaw quicker in the fridge. I’ve heard the dollar store has good prices on aluminum pans for casseroles. From 1-7:30 I freezer cooked today. Phew… I’m tired. But not eating out is where I will see the most savings. Crystal’s goal lists got me thinking. Why don’t I do that instead of always forgetting and then feeling bad when I don’t stick with something. I now have two manicotti, spaghetti casserole, taquitos, burritos and chicken nuggets in the freezer. Now for my victory lap around the dining table haha !!!

  • Thanks – I learned two completely new things from this post! (1) Turn the heat off when cooking pasta, and (2) Use ceramic or glass dishes in the overn. I can’t wait to put these into practice!

  • Laurie says:

    I save my empty cereal bags and use them for short term meat storage (like when I take a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost) or to put my flour in when I’m coating meat to cook. That way I save on ziplocks. Also, when you take meat off the grill and need to keep it warm, instead of covering with foil, just put a plate or cake pan over it.

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