11 Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen

By Kelly Rossiter, Planet Green

The weekly grocery bill takes up a lot of the average family’s income so here are some ideas about how to trim down the bill.

1. Ditch prepared meals right now: Consumers have been led to believe that they don’t have the time to cook and it simply isn’t true. You can have a healthy meal on the table within half an hour. Prepared meals have more fat, more sugar, more salt, more preservatives, and more garbage waste than anything you can cook yourself.

You will be paying significantly more per serving than if you cooked it yourself. Someone has to pay for executive salaries and television advertising, why should it be you?

2. Plan ahead: Yes, this is going to take a bit of effort, but once you get going it will be easy. Make sure you have a well stocked pantry. Canned or dry legumes, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes should all be on hand to make quick, nutritious meals.

3. Plan your week: Take the time to work out a menu plan for the week. Most people grocery shop once a week and they toss things into their carts, without considering what they really need. If you know what you are going to eat, and you have the right ingredients, you’ll be less likely to call for takeout, or head out to the fast food joint.

4. Cook more meatless meals: Meat will consistently be the most expensive food item in your grocery cart. The ready availability of other protein sources allows you to expand your food repertoire and have a healthier diet.

5. If you do use meat, use less: As I pointed out in my weight loss post, no one needs a 10-ounce steak. Cut back on the amount of meat that you cook and increase the amount of vegetables for each serving.

6. If you do use meat, use a cheaper cut: There’s a reason why your mother or grandmother made stew it’s cheaper. There are lots of recipes for braises and stews that use cheaper cuts of meat and cook for a longer time.

Take advantage of a snowy Sunday afternoon and get something cooking that will fill your house with a wonderful aroma. If you make a large recipe, you will probably get more than one meal from it.

7. Use your leftovers: If you are cooking instead of eating prepared foods, you are going to encounter leftovers. Don’t let them turn to mold in the back of your refrigerator. Add leftover vegetables to soups, toss them into that stew, make a stir fry, or take them to work for lunch.

8. Plan meals that will stretch through the week: If you make a spaghetti sauce one night, make enough to use in another meal. Use it as a soup base or make an eggplant parmigiana.

9. Make friends with your freezer: I admit to being a total hypocrite saying this, because my freezer holds a bottle of gin and martini glasses and precious little else. I don’t work outside of the home, however, so I don’t need to “bank” any food in the freezer. If you are making that spaghetti sauce already, make twice as much and freeze some for another day.

10. Brown bag it for lunch: I sent my kids off to school with a hot lunch every day once they were in high school. Sometimes I made something new, but mostly I just made enough dinner the previous night that I could heat it up in the morning. You have to invest in a good thermos, but it is significantly cheaper than buying lunch in a cafeteria or a restaurant.

11. Forget the pineapple: Unless you live in Hawaii, of course. Buy local vegetables, in season. Support your local farm economy by going to your local farmer’s market.

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Jo S.
Jo S.about a month ago

Thank you Megan.

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Use what one really needs

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago


Kim Stueck
Kim Stueck3 years ago

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

Tim Cheung
Tim C.4 years ago


Wes Prang
Wes Prang4 years ago

All this is nice for a middle-class family with a house and lots of room to store expensive food.

When you live in an apartment with very limited space and each serving can't cost more than $1.42, it's a different story.

Howard C.
.4 years ago

We rarely eat prepared meals, not least because these meals tend to be packed with salt, the less salt you eat the less you want. We like to prepare our own food from raw, then you know that you have washed and prepared it in a way that you like. Regarding freezing, we have two deep freezers, both are full. We bulk buy when an item in on special offer (particularly in the days following holidays such as Christmas when larger meat joints are reduced in price - they will keep in a freezer for a couple of months).

Megan R.
Megan R.4 years ago

MY family does a lot of canning. It takes longer, but it's cheaper, and you actually know what you're eating. Also, you can can in servings that you eat. Jelly jar, pint, quart, as opposed to the 8 oz cans you get that don't seem to fit anything.

We always have a handful of favorites we go to. We don't plan meals out a week ahead of time (honestly, a lot of times it isn't even a few hours) but we have a huge pantry, so it's not completely necessary.

We haven't figured out how to freeze broccoli and cauliflower, however. And that's just sad.

Jeanne Allie
Jeanne Allie4 years ago

The ingredients I mentioned are just examples of what I try to always have on hand. If you have any specific questions about other ingredients, feel free to send me a message via this newsletter. I'd be glad to encourage people who want to try to make the change.

Jeanne Allie
Jeanne Allie4 years ago

(continued...) I think that if you don't yet manage your cooking like this, that, given about a month's adjustment time, that you'll never want to look back.