Everyone knows that eating at home is a great way to save money. But creating a steady stream of tasty meals in your own kitchen can also take a toll on your budget. However, there are ways to reduce your food spending without compromising taste and quality.
The stars of The Great British Baking Show recently shared eight tips for frugal cooking. Who says you can’t learn anything from reality TV?
Write it down. Head to the store with a shopping list and stick to it. This helps prevent impulse buying and ensures that you will actually use what you purchase. (This habit will also earn you a hug from my friend, consumer expert Clark Howard.)
Buy in-season. In this age of mundane miracles, most fruits and vegetables are available year-round. Of course, you pay a premium for out-of-season items that have to be transported from the other side of the world. So, try to limit your produce purchases to what is in season in your area. Buy lots of those items and use them creatively in all sorts of fresh dishes. Then, buy even more of the bargain fruits and vegetables and freeze, can or otherwise save them for later use.
Don’t buy spices at the chain stores. Buy your seasonings at an Asian supermarket or a farmers’ market, such as the Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur. The items will be significantly cheaper, and you will likely find a broad and intriguing selection.
Be flexible. Instead of setting your weekly meal plan in stone, be open to making dinners based on what you find on sale at the grocery store that week.
Be patient when buying kitchen equipment. Wait for the current model of stove, mixer or microwaves to be clearanced. The scratch and dent stores are great, too, for things like a second refrigerator.
Keep it in one pot. The simplest meals are often the best – and cheap. If you are one of the remaining 74 people in America without an InstaPot, considering buying one. The fancified pressure cooker will you save time and money.
Double up. Whether your stove is gas or electric, it burns money. Make the most of that expensive heat by cooking more than one dish at a time. Roast tonight’s chicken and bake tomorrow’s cupcakes simultaneously. Yes, that’s allowed.
Shop several stores. When I was a kid, my mother shopped at two different supermarkets where she bought everything except milk. For that, she waited until her weekly errands took her by a small family-owned convenience store where milk was 40 cents a gallon cheaper. Today, we’re all busy and time is money, et cetera. But if you’re serious about trimming your food budget, there is no substitute for reading the circulars and shopping wherever the bargains take you.
Follow these tips, and you’ll see an immediate reduction in your food spending. Who knows, you might save enough this month to go out for a fancy dinner!