25 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money Cooking
Today, it’s all about 25 insanely smart ways to save money cooking! It’s no secret that eating out will cost your family a lot more money than staying home and fixing meals. Think of all the money you could be saving every year by ignoring the convenience of the drive-thru several nights a week. Are you curious about how to save money cooking at home? Since we’re all looking for ways to save money in these expensive times, I decided to update this post and share the ideas I hope can make a difference for you.
Having an already-cooked meal waiting for you when you get home from work is possible. While eating at home will certainly save you money, it’s also careful planning and buying the right items at the grocery store, that will take you to the next level. There is also the aspect of knowing what is in the food you’re eating and if those foods are as healthy as you’d want for your family.
We are all struggling with the cost of food these days, and it looks like we’ll be facing higher-than-usual prices for a while. Rather than having to cut back on grocery items, plan ahead by following the suggestions in this post. Here are some good ideas to help save money cooking at home.
25 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money Cooking
1. Fix What you Already Have
You might be surprised by how many meals you still can make by simply taking a look for quality ingredients in your food pantry. Maybe you’ll find that you have all the ingredients to make one of your favorite meals and you just need to add one or two items to your grocery list to finish the job.
It’s always good to take inventory of what you have before you head to the store anyway, that way it’s easier to come up with meal solutions based on what you already have and not purchase unnecessary things. Here is my post on the Canned Foods I Highly Recommend You Store
2. Buy Whole Roasted Chicken
When you first walk into the grocery store, the smell of whole rotisserie birds will often greet you, especially around the dinner rush hour.
Give in to the temptation for a great price of $4.99 and you just found not only dinner but possibly a meal or two later. Many people shred the meat and use it to make chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, and casseroles.
You don’t have to use whole roasted chicken simply for the parts. Take the bones and use them to make chicken stock, and you’ll not only save money by not buying stock, but the chicken flavoring will make your recipe batch taste better. Here are my 5 Meals From One Rotisserie Chicken
3. Stock Up on Sale Items
How else do you save money cooking at home? When you’re at the grocery store and see a great deal and you know it’s something that you’ll really use without wasting away on the shelf, stock up on it. You’ll pay much less than the retail price, especially if you buy that same item often.
It might also be in your best interest to shop around and go where the deals are. In order that you get more bang for your buck that might mean having to go to 2 or 3 stores on a shopping trip to save money. Just try to schedule those visits so you’re not wasting gas driving all over town.
We also recommend that you consider getting loyalty/membership cards for every shopping center you go to, that way you don’t miss out on any other great deals.
Most major brand stores don’t charge for their loyalty cards, and many provide discounts on fuel at their company-owned gas stations based on how much you spend at the store during the month.
4. Store Brands are Just as Good
Save yourself even more money by buying the store name brands instead of the national brands. You may be surprised, but many store-brand foods are actually as good, or better than those national brands.
We love ice cream around our house and the local Kroger store often sells their 48 oz store brand for $2.50, and at times for $1.77. A real bargain!
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great shopping strategy to have, especially if you have a big family. It can also be a bad idea if you waste a lot of it. Purchasing your flour, spices, beans, and rice doesn’t get any cheaper than buying it in bulk. Plan ahead for storage so you can extend the items’ shelf life. You may need to invest in some quality BPA-free plastic containers, but it will be worth it in the long run.
5. Head to the Farmer’s Market
You can find super fresh vegetables and fruits that are locally grown at the local farmer’s market, and you’ll pay less too. If you don’t go often, spend a little extra and stock up.
Whatever you aren’t going to use right away, go ahead, and freeze them. Your fruits and veggies will be just as fresh, once you thaw them for use.
6. Cook Using Less Meat
This might sound crazy, but cooking with less meat can save you money, and it may be more healthy for you. We all need more protein in our diets, but you can get your needed proteins from things like beans.
If meat is that important to you, most stores often run sales on various cuts of meat. I’ve seen some super deals on pork lately, and right now you can get certain turkeys for $.79 per pound. If it’s the flavor you’re looking for, shredded bacon can add extra flavoring to your meals that are light on meat.
7. Use Filler in Your Protein
Beans and rice happen to be two foods that contain a lot of protein and can help stretch a lot of meals. Need help with how to Cook Beans?
That’s why these two items are great to buy in bulk and will help complete an endless amount of meal entrees. Many people add beans and rice to their taco meat and meatloaf, which works great. Here are some Rice Meal Ideas
8. Use Up Those Eggs!
Eggs are another protein food that doesn’t happen to cost that much and they’re great for weight loss. Plus you can make them a number of ways besides scrambled. Yes, they are a bit higher priced than you have seen in the past but keep your eyes open for deals. I recently purchased 5 dozen large eggs at Costco for about $12.00.
Don’t forget about hard-boiling them, egg salad, or a fried egg sandwich. 3 Ways To Cook Hard-Boiled Eggs or My Egg Salad Recipe or My Demo of Classic Hard-Boiled Eggs
9. Select the Bigger Packages of Meat
When you do buy meat, make sure that you go after the family packs and the thick cuts. You’ll save more money this way. Be sure and watch your weekly sales at your local stores.
If you can buy one and get one free, it’s a win-win for our budget, right? Be sure and check out the cost per pound when you purchase those bargains.
The same goes for your hamburger and chicken breast. If there’s a good deal at the time, don’t hesitate and hope to save your family even more money later.
10. Divide and Conquer
After you’ve brought home the family packs of meat, cut and divide them up into meals. Now you have meat that can be used in a number of dishes.
Whatever meat you don’t plan on using over the next few days, go ahead and store it in the freezer. Investing in a vacuum sealer to reseal your meat supply might be in your best interest.
11. Plan on Cooking Big Batches
Cooking big batches is also a smart way of saving your family money and providing quick and easy meals for many days to come.
Again, whatever your family doesn’t use up, you can store in the fridge and freezer and then enjoy it at your own convenience.
12. Get Yourself a Slow Cooker
With a slow cooker at your disposal, there really isn’t a reason that you can’t have a meal ready for you and your family when you get home from work. I actually have two slow cookers, one large one and a smaller one.
Just by throwing in a few ingredients and letting it simmer all day, you’ll be coming home to food already set to go and that can feel really good. Plus, you can say goodbye to so much fast food in your life and say hello to healthier eating.
13. Senior Citizen or Military Discount
Here’s the deal, certain stores give 10% off your entire grocery bill on certain days. If you use coupons, you still get the additional discount, depending on the day each store designates their discount day. Check which days they have discounts for seniors and the military, it’s worth asking about and taking advantage of.
14. Use Your Pressure Cooker
A really easy way to save money while cooking is to use your pressure cooker, like an Insta Pot. I can’t tell you how many pressure cooker meals I’ve used over the years.
It’s one way you can cook from swatch without spending a ton of money since you can soften up some of those tough meats that tend to be less expensive. It also saves time when it comes to cooking beans, pasta, rice, etc.
15. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Buying fresh fruits and vegetables is nice, but there is a lot of food waste that happens this way. A shortcut I like for saving money in the kitchen is buying frozen fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits that I continue to buy include bananas, carrots, celery, and cauliflower. I usually buy frozen corn, peas, broccoli, and green beans.
The great thing is they taste just as good, if not better, and you can plan your meals around their use rather than having them dictate meals before they go bad.
16. Plan Out Your Menu Before Going Grocery Shopping
Planning out your menu before going grocery shopping is a good idea. Whether you shop at Aldi or Costco, you can easily plan the meals before you grocery shop, so you can stay on top of your food budget.
We all are tempted to buy items on impulse, particularly if we shop when we’re hungry. Take that list with you and stick to it. To save time, plan out the whole week and buy what you need on one shopping trip.
17. Shop The Weekly Sales
Weekly sales aren’t going to just appear in your shopping cart. You have to look for those deals. Sometimes you’ll get flyers in the mail. Other times you’ll get emails since you’re a “loyalty card” member. Again, it may mean more than one stop, but good planning can make it worthwhile.
Many stores here in Utah have case lot sales. They will put full cases on sale at real savings. If you have room, consider this cost-saving approach.
18. Make a List and Stop Impulse Buying
As mentioned, impulse buying can happen anytime you go to the supermarket. I know I’m guilty of buying chips, pizza, chicken breasts, and berries – those are always the foods I go over budget on! Make a list and stick to it.
19. Make Your Own Salad Dressings
Many of you may not have made your own salad dressings in the past, but this is something worth doing in the future. You can make your own salad dressings out of olive oil and by adding other herbs and flavors that you enjoy.
20. Make a Larger Batch of a Meal and Freeze Half
Making a larger batch of a meal is always a good idea. Things that are good to freeze include broth, noodles, butter, beef, cheese, broccoli, garlic, and even pork! You’ll need to plan on the size of portions to be served, but with some practice, that shouldn’t be too hard.
21. Buy Extra Produce when It’s On Sale and Freeze It
Besides buying frozen vegetables and fruit, you can buy fresh produce when it’s on sale and freeze it. Frozen produce is great for making soups and other recipes from scratch.
22. Check Out the Freezer Section for Sales
Next up on saving money is checking out the freeze section for sales. Simply walk past the freezer section and see what you can find on sale!
23. Make Some Breakfast Items Ahead and Freeze Them
One of my favorite things to do meal prep-wise is to make breakfast items ahead of time and freeze them.
24. Grow a Garden and Preserve It
I highly recommend this seed company, SeedsNow, I buy all of my heirloom seeds from there. I have a series on my archive where I tell you what to plant and when based on the “zone” you live in.
Each location is known for what can be grown and when you need to plant it for success. I’ve done your research for you, and I even have a link in each “what to plant” post so you can determine your zone.
25. Organize Your Kitchen Like A Restaurant
Save money by organizing your kitchen like a restaurant. You’ll love knowing what you have and where everything is in your kitchen and pantry. That way you don’t run out of things or buy items you already have. These are the containers I use in every drawer in my kitchen and cupboards. Storage Organizer Container
Does cooking at home actually save money?
One of the biggest benefits of cooking at home is that it can actually save you money. This is because you will be able to prepare your own meals at a much lower cost than if you were to eat out. Additionally, by taking control of what goes into your dishes, you can also eliminate highly processed foods and instead focus on fresh, whole ingredients. This can also help to reduce your grocery costs, and possibly your health care expenses in the long term.
How much money do you save when you cook at home?
Well, that depends on several factors. First, there is the cost of ingredients. Purchasing items in bulk can be a great way to save money, especially if you plan on cooking often and for large groups of people.
By choosing fresh and whole foods over processed or pre-packaged options, you are likely to pay less at the checkout. Leftovers can also help you save a ton of money when you cook at home.
What is the cheapest way to cook your food?
There is no one “cheapest way” to cook your food, as this will depend on a number of factors, including the ingredients you choose, your cooking methods, and even the appliances that you use.
However, some general tips might include using cheaper cuts of meat instead of expensive steaks or seafood, choosing budget-friendly foods like canned or frozen vegetables, or being mindful of how much water you use when cooking rice or pasta.
You see, there are plenty of ways to save money by cooking at home. You also don’t have to use the excuse that you don’t have time to make dinner anymore. With some careful planning and a slow or pressure cooker, you’ll save tons every year by cooking more if you eat at home.
Tell us your tips on how to save money at home. Please keep prepping, stay well, and stay safe. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Cooking Depositphotos_42749243_s-2019
15 thoughts on “25 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money Cooking”
One of the best purchases I made recently is a manual slicer. It makes a much better job of slicing my home made bread than my messy bread knife work, especially on fresh loaves, and I can use it for all kinds of meat slicing. One of the foods I like to buy is bacon ends and now I can use the slicer to make more slices out of the chunkier bits. I used to cube them for soup and still do but there are a lot of uses for sliced bacon. With a slicer and a grinder I can buy larger pieces of meat that are less per pound and process them myself. It’s made of plastic but it should last a long time if I’m careful and it was well under $40. It’s easy to clean and store. This one is a Starfrit Deli Slicer but there may be others out there.
Hi Alice, oh I love hearing this! Have you tried a serrated bread knife? It really doesn’t matter if this slicer works, wow, I love it! Is this it? https://amzn.to/3U8VGNO I like the idea of being able to thinly slice meat and bread! Great tip! Linda
That’s the one but I’m surprised it’s more expensive in the US than Canada. I’ve sliced a big block of mozzarella on it for lasagna and plan to slice some ham and roast beef for sandwiches. The meat loaf was a bit crumbly last time but still came out not too bad. I do have a good bread knife but my cuts are usually wonky. I love having the even slices I get from this thing.
Hi Alice, yay!! It looks awesome!! Linda
My father needs to learn all these things, but he’s not going to and I suffer for it.
I think I need my own refrigerator/freezer and then I can build up my own food pantry and stock up on specials. I have a knack for noticing deals and I used to insist/suggest to my mother that we buy the larger packages and buy in bulk or super size things and then I would personally repack things, wash and dry veggies and chop, dice, slice and freeze the extra food so nothing was wasted simply due to age.
The extra effort was totally worth it.
Hi Frank, oh I totally understand your need for your own frig/freezer. I’m living with my daughter until we get a permit to build. We are now in the 13th month of dealing with incompetent city/county housing and development employees. We are sharing a frig and freezer with her family. We are living with them until our builder gets the permit to start building. Buying in bulk and packaging in smaller packages makes a lot of sense. Keep at it, Frank, you know how to save money and have zero waste. Linda
Frank, I applaud your efforts for food preservation and stocking up. It’s very difficult when living with others if they don’t follow why we do this. You mentioned getting a small frig/freezer. I would suggest one that has separate doors for the frig and the freezer. (Some have one door and the freezer part is pretty small.)
I’d like to suggest you get a small dehydrator. I have a Nesco one that doesn’t take a lot of space but does the job. These are Not a lot of money (about $75?). Another appliance I’d suggest getting is a Food Saver vacuum/sealer. (This is a bit more but worth it.)With both of these appliances you could buy in bulk (cheaper) but without the storage issues of big buckets.
Hello Wendy, I know you from Facebook.
I have a new dehydrator actually given to me as a gift. And then I remembered that I do have an older refrigerator, freezer unit on top, but I’m just using it as storage. So I need to empty it, but it did work and I assume it will once I plug it in again. So I got 2 out of 3 things covered so far.
I’ve been saving jars, I even purchased a few and have been saving containers when I can. I also have on of the FoodSaver vacuum containers and the Mason Jar adapters, but I need the vacuum unit and the bags of course.
I have heard/read over and over again that the bags eventually allow air in. People claim this occurs, but others use them and say that work just like the company videos and literature. This has bothered me for years. I don’t know what is true.
None the less, food can be wrapped and then stored in a solid container, can, tote, etc., and vacuum sealed or one can toss in oxygen absorbers. If you use one then I imagine you’re satisfied with it.
Frank, lol, cool you’ve seen me on fb. It’s great you have both a dehydrator and frig/freezer already. I really recommend getting a Food Saver. You can use this with your dehydrated foods for really long term storage. As to air getting in Food Saver bags? First, there’s a difference between using the pre-made bags which have a ziploc top with a suction hole versus the ones that a person cuts/ seal themselves. I don’t think much of the pre-made bags…seems if they are moved or have Any pressure put on them, like from stacking, they lose their seal. Especially if frozen. I like to re-use my FS bags so I usually wrap meats in press n seal wrapping before vac sealing. Gives a double layer too to protect against freezer burn.
All of your advice is spot on. However, I am single and live in a small apartment with just a tiny freezer on my apartment sized refrigerator and no room for a free standing freezer. SO, some of the advice, like purchasing larger quantities of meat, for example, are no goes for me! By the time I put meat, fruits and veggies in the freezer, there is absolutely no room for extras. So, while it might be less cost effective, I tend to purchase small amounts of meat.
One of the things that I have that has saved me money over the years is my vacuum sealer! It is great for sealing the extra servings of meat to prevent freezer burn. I also have the jar sealers for the machine and find that when I have things that are more likely to get bugs or go stale, I can vacuum seal them in jars. This saves $$ since I don’t toss things that go stale or get bugs.
Hi Leanne, I rarely buy larger quantities of meat anymore. There are only two of us now, and we are trying to eat less meat because of health reasons and because of cost. When we had six in the family it made sense to buy larger quantities. I totally agree with the vacuum sealer, it saves me money because I can package small servings. The jar sealers are so awesome! Great comment, Linda
My brother-in-law does not really have room for a freezer either. But he rearranged a few things and recently bought a five cubic foot chest freezer to augment the freezer compartment in their refrigerator. It measures about two feet wide, just over a foot and a half deep and just under three feet tall. It is amazing the amount of meat, veggies and such that he has stored in less than four square feet of floor space. And, the electric current draw is minimal. Just a suggestion.
Hi Harry, great suggestion for so many people, thank you! Linda
I think I have learned quite a lot from this article, and I always feel overwhelmed whenever I have plans related to cooking or being in the kitchen. Thank you for sharing.
Hi David, we all feel that way sometimes, no worries. I try to share easy recipes. I am not a long drawn out fancy cook. It has to be simple to make, inexpensive, and taste yummy! You can do it, I will help you with easy recipes! Linda