Allow me to share a little confession with y’all: I am not the best cook. I know, I know, my poor husband. But here’s the thing… I don’t enjoy cooking that much.
I don’t like grocery shopping. I don’t like getting hot in the kitchen. I don’t like spending time on a meal and it ending up tasting horrible. I don’t like having to throw out food because it goes bad. However, I do love sitting down to a delicious meal that I made and I love seeing my husband eat my cooking.
I have started working on meal planning (thanks for making it easy, Pinterest!) and it really helps to ease the “pains” of cooking. I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve learned that will help you save money in the kitchen and avoid having things go to waste. Most seasoned cooks are probably familiar with most of these, but as a novice cook, I have had to learn slowly but surely.
1) Meal plan with “like” items
This certainly doesn’t mean that you have to eat the same thing every night, but if a meal only requires half of something, find another meal to use the other half. For example: if one meal needs half of an onion, make sure that you pick a meal later in the week that needs the other half. I know it sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown out things (mostly veggies) because I didn’t use them before they went bad.
2) Check your fridge
Do this before you meal plan to see what items you have already. Then pick meals that will use some of those items. You benefit in two ways: it won’t go bad before you use it and you won’t have to buy as much, so your grocery bill will be less! Win, win.
3) Use your freezer
This is something that I honestly didn’t even know that you could do when I first started learning how to cook. Your freezer can become your best friend. If you have extra food of some sort (maybe those onions from #1) and you have no plan to use them, stick them in the freezer. They will last longer. This is true for most food items. I freeze a lot of our meat (like chicken, ground beef, ground turkey) so that if for some reason we end up not cooking and going out to eat instead, it will still be good when we are ready to use it.
4) Make friends with leftovers
This one is hard for us sometimes, just because neither of us are huge on leftovers. You can save so much money by eating them, though, rather than letting them go to waste. My favorite way to enjoy leftovers is for lunch the next day. Also, think about ways to make it a “new” dish. If you had pot roast for dinner, make sandwiches from the leftover meat. Sometimes presenting it in a new way can make it a little more enjoyable.
5) Buy in bulk
We have a membership at a store that sells tons of items in bulk and it has helped us save a lot of money when grocery shopping. The key is to only buy items in bulk that you know you can use before they go bad. Also, not everything bought in bulk is a great buy, so don’t get too “bulk happy” when you shop. Buy smart.
I hope that some of these tips will help y’all save a little extra dough in the kitchen… pun intended. As I said above, I certainly don’t yet enjoy cooking (I’m trying!), but I do enjoy saving money wherever I can. For some reason, the food tastes even better when you know it’s good for the wallet, too.