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11 Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen

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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.

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Megan, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, PlanetGreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

149 comments

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4:28AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

Use what one really needs

5:27PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

Thanks.

7:07AM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

10:41AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

thanks

8:19AM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

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.

10:28AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

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).

8:05AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

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.

7:39AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

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.

7:37AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

(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.

7:35AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

As an experienced frugal cook, one of my foremost pieces of advice is to shop for ingredients, not meals. It may take a while to get used to this, but it really works once you're used to it. It is much more frugal in the long run and also is much more conducive to being flexible in the kitchen. In other words, determine what kinds of meals you/your family enjoy eating, and purchase the ingredients for those meals. I get my groceries once a month from our co-op. To give you some idea, a typical order would include: case of canned black beans, bag of oats, bag of all-purpose flour, bag of bulk raisins, case of cottage cheese, case of extra-firm yogurt, case of canned garbanzo beans, bag of dried pinto beans, bag of bulk dried cranberries, large can of dried milk, bag of dehydrated spinach. I grow a lot of our own food, so things not appearing here that we also use are: potatoes, carrots, many types of green vegetables, many types of local fruit, eggs. Spices and herbs are great to have on hand. If you have none in your kitchen, just buy one or two this week that you like and buy another one each time you can afford it. Other purchases I often make are bags of sugar, containers of Earth Balance, jugs of vegetable oil, cases of of organic yogurt, cases of soy milk, cases of Mesa Sunrise (Nature's Path) cornflakes, large blocks of cheddar cheese, quinoa, barley, couscous, rye flour, whole wheat flour, soy flour.

I think that if you don't manage your cooking like t

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