We all know that eating out can be expensive, but it turns out that cooking for yourself can also be costly. Since food is not an expense we can afford to cut out completely, it’s a good idea to consider cutting back — without sacrificing taste. Check out these tips to save money in your kitchen while still eating well.
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1. Reorganize the Fridge
You have too many other things on your mind to memorize the contents of your kitchen. It’s a good idea to keep items that are quick to spoil in plain sight instead of hidden in the back or tucked away in drawers.
2. Shop With a Plan
If you look at recipes before you head to the supermarket and are selective with what you choose to cook, you may be able to quickly shave off some money in your grocery budget. Once you have a rough “meal plan” for the week in mind, you won’t end up with too much food or spoiled products you didn’t quite get to. You might also consider some less expensive and generic brands. From the best cheap coffee brands to cereal made by the supermarket without the big company flash, these can be easy places to save.
3. Grow Your Own
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A great (maybe obvious) way to save in the kitchen involves growing a garden and producing your own food. It may depend on where you live, but you can usually accommodate at least fresh herbs or spices that add serious freshness (whether in a yard, on a balcony or even inside on a windowsill). If you can, go the step further and grow fruits and vegetables for extra savings.
4. Bulk Up
One of the best ways to save time and money in the kitchen can be cooking (and buying) in bulk. When you have found a few recipes that work well in your house, double or triple it and eat for the week or freeze some for later. You can also stockpile your masterpieces, as well as certain common ingredients, by storing them properly to make them last.
5. Seek Alternative Protein
Meatless entrees can often rack up savings because protein is usually more expensive than most carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Consider cooking with beans, nuts, tofu and other vegetarian protein sources to cut your grocery bill and cash in on some health benefits.
6. Practice Portion Control
Knowing exactly how much to eat per meal or what a serving is can be challenging when you are cooking and plating yourself. If you stick to basic portion sizes, you can make your food last longer and keep your waistline in check.
7. Skip Specialized Appliances
It can be tempting to buy every possible kitchen contraption to make cooking “easier,” but often you do not really need all the specialized appliances. There are only so many times you will likely use food-specific devices and can more than likely make the food without it. Stick to the essentials, save the storage space and reap the savings.
8. Be Conscious
Savings in the kitchen can go beyond the food. Practicing green behavior is not only good for the environment, it can also save you big bucks. Make good use of reusable products like sponges and dishtowels instead of paper towels and other paper products. It’s a good idea to also conserve water and energy by running the dishwasher only when it’s full and unplugging appliances when not in use.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
AJ Smith is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online content. She currently serves as the managing editor for SmartAsset. AJ has a passion for meeting new people, sharing stories and helping others. She has degrees from Princeton University and Mississippi State University. AJ and her husband also write and illustrate educational children’s books. More by AJ Smith