You know, J is turning out to be a good helper in the kitchen. He puts the liner in the trash can for me, turns on the lights when it's time, and this afternoon he helped bag and put away ham for different recipes. Okay, so mostly he just watched and happily ate bits of ham that I gave him, but he did help put the meat into the freezer bags and then put them in the freezer for me. He's now waiting on the mac n cheese with ham that is baking off in the oven. So, what does J helping put things away have to do with saving money in the kitchen? It doesn't. I just wanted to brag on my young man a little. Mama's prerogative. ;)
If you're like me, and so many others judging by Pinterest pins showing up all over the place, you're looking for ways to save money. Now, if you're looking for budget tips, this is the wrong place because I am continually looking for ways to not have so much month left over at the end of the money! I have, however, figured out a few ways to save money in the kitchen. In no particular order, here are some ideas:
- Write out a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly menu plan. I've seen other bloggers such as Heavenly Homemakers discuss this. And bonus, Laura and other bloggers have menu plans on their sites to give you some ideas. A menu plan is something I'm trying to get the hang of still, but it can be done. As long as I have ideas of what to make written down, I'm less likely to want to blow good money we don't have on grabbing a burger or sending The Hubby to the store for a frozen pizza.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it. Most of the time. In most cases, it is wise to put in your cart only the things on your list. This helps keep those last minute items from jumping into the cart and thinning your wallet. But, there are sometimes good deals that you will find. Say, your favorite cereal is marked down and it wasn't in the flyer, and you happen to have a coupon, upping the savings. In cases like that, by all means take advantage!
- Use coupons wisely. After watching several episodes of Extreme Couponers or whatever it's called on Netflix, I got the couponing bug. The problem with me grabbing coupons for use is there isn't a whole lot out there in most cases for my family. I make most of our food from scratch and I make my own household cleaners. I do use things like tooth paste, spaghetti sauce, and a few other things, so the coupons do help some.
- Don't be afraid to buy an extra ham or turkey or roast when they are at a good price. I know most of us are ham and turkey'd out and don't want to see either for awhile, but when we can afford to do so, we grab them. These meats can make several different meals, thereby stretching your food dollars. For example, a ham gives you a nice ham dinner one night, with leftovers for ham and potato soup, maybe some ham sandwiches, and you can dice a few cups for salads, omelets, mac n cheese, etc. The bone and some fatty parts I use to flavor soups and beans so nothing gets wasted.
- Make your own broth or stock. It's fairly easy. Use the turkey carcass or other bones, add some carrots, celery, and onions, maybe a few spices, and let it boil for several hours. Food network has a few recipes for you to try.
- Beans and rice. They are inexpensive and very filling and delicious. Sometimes a good meal for me is pinto beans, corn bread and some turnip greens. Southern simplicity. Lentils and rice also makes a good meal. The family not big on beans? Sneak some into the hamburger meat to stretch it. Chances are they will never know the difference.
- Cook from scratch. It tastes better (in my opinion), is less expensive in most cases, and you know what's in it. It doesn't have to be fully made from scratch. As I've stated before, I use jarred spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. I'd like to get to the point where I make my own, but one step at a time.
- Set up a garden. We haven't done this yet although we talk about it all the time. This year I'm hoping to get the ball rolling for one. Home grown tomatoes taste so much better than those things you buy at the store.