Do you want to learn how to eat better and spend less? Don’t worry, it won’t be too huge of a change for your family. These 10 best tips on frugal cooking will help you get started!
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Frugal living is a great way of life whether you need to be careful spending your money or not. It’s all about using your resources wisely! Frugal cooking is much easier to do than you think, especially when you have a great resource.
Dining on a Dime Cookbook by Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper is the answer to all of your cooking and frugal living questions! Here are just a few of the great frugal cooking tips summed up from their cookbook.
1. It’s okay to start slow. Don’t think you have to do absolutely everything you learn about frugal cooking all at once! Just start trying out one thing at a time. Maybe you need to start out trying to save just $1 a day. If you do that, Tawra suggests that you put the $365 you save toward paying off your credit card debt. “At 21% interest, you save more than $70 a year.”
Plus, if you’re starting this with older kids, and your husband, they may be a little resistant to change. So, just change a few things about the way you cook. You can use home cooked beans instead of canned. Use homemade sauce instead of from a can. Your family may not even notice the difference. If they do, they’ll think it’s a positive change because homemade always tastes better!
2. Try store brands. You’ll be surprised at how much cheaper store brands are! Most of them taste just about the same anyway. Tawra says, “Many off brand products are made by the same company as the name brand, but are relabeled and sold at lower prices.”
You could just try switching to a store brand product one at a time and see what you think. If you like it, then stick with it and try switching another product. If you don’t like it, keep using the name brand for that product, but try switching another product to store brand. You’ll find that most store brands aren’t bad. There’s only a few products I buy that are name brand. Probably 80% or more of what I buy is store brand.
If you don’t think your family will like the store brand, don’t tell them you’re serving it. Just serve it and wait to see if they even notice the difference. They probably won’t!
3. Your kitchen doesn’t have to be the only place you store sales items. If you don’t have a big storage area in your kitchen, don’t think you can’t stock up when things go on sale. You can store items in other places. We also keep our sales finds in a hallway cupboard and on shelves in the garage.
In the book, they also suggest storing things “under the bed, under a crib, unused drawer space or under an open-bottom end table (no one will see canned goods stored under there with a tablecloth on top.”
4. Make a lot of the things you buy for breakfast instead of buying them. Your kids don’t need to eat toaster pastries or breakfast bars for breakfast. I know they’ll try and convince you that they do, but they’ll get used to eating something else. When we had to switch to a heart healthy diet, I started making everything we eat for breakfast instead and the kids got used to it. In fact, when Vons had the Monopoly game over the summer, we won free frozen waffles. My youngest son didn’t like them at all! He said he’d rather have my waffles.
You can also eat oatmeal, pancakes, granola, muffins, cinnamon rolls, or fruit instead. There are 15 pages of breakfast tips and recipes in the Dining on a Dime Cookbook. So, you can find plenty of ideas to try there.
5. You don’t have to put the nuts in a recipe. If a recipe calls for nuts, you don’t have to use them. Nuts can be very expensive, depending on what kind of nut you need to buy. Even though you may love nuts, it’s much cheaper to leave them out of the recipe. Almonds, even bought at a bulk store, are often $7.99 or more per pound!
If you think you just can’t stand eating the recipe without nuts, try using less. Then, each time, use a little less. Before you know it, you might be able to eat it without any nuts! Just think of all the money you’ll be saving!Do you want to learn how to eat better and spend less? Come see how these 10 best tips on frugal cooking will help you get started!Click To Tweet
6. Plan your meals. This is one of my favorite ways to save money! It saves you from having to go to the grocery store more than once a week too. If you keep your pantry and kitchen organized, it will be much easier to know what you have and what you need to buy.
Definitely plan your meals based on the sales and coupons that are available. This makes such a huge difference in how much you’ll spend!
If you keep a master list of menus, meal planning will become very easy. Write down what you have for dinner for a whole month. Then, the next month, you can just repeat it. By the way, in the Dining on a Dime Cookbook, they have a section of menu ideas for you. They even include ideas for picky eaters and quick dinners. Of course, there’s recipes that go with them.
If you happen to run out of something, just use what you already have instead. In the book it gives the example of, “if you run out of regular bread use corn bread instead.” There’s even 13 pages of suggestions in the book for substitutions when you run out of something!
7. Make your own baby food. I did this for all three of my kids. It was a great way to save money, it’s healthier, and it gets them used to the taste of real food quicker.
The book suggests that you steam vegetables in a small amount of water. (steaming keeps the nutrients in the vegetables, unlike boiling)
Then, you can either use one of those baby food grinders or just use your blender or food processor. You can just freeze it in ice cube trays or use the freezer trays specifically for baby food. (Where was all of this convenient stuff when my kids were little?)
Once it’s frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag. Just take out how many cubes you need to feed your baby, defrost it, and it’s ready to serve!
8. You can freeze lots of things. Freezing leftover foods, things you buy in bulk or on sale is an important frugal cooking tip. There are so many things you can freeze that I didn’t even realize! You can freeze cheese, milk, grains, and nuts! If you buy cheese in a big block, just grate it, spread it on a cookie sheet. Freeze for an hour, then put it in a freezer bag. The book even gives you a tip on how to make it easier to clean your cheese grater, but I’m not going to give it all away – you have to read the book!
If you cook a roast, you can shred what’s left and add bbq sauce to it. Freeze those in portions for future bbq sandwiches.
When you have leftover bananas, you can peel them and put them in a freezer bag (I usually slice them first). Then, you have bananas available whenever you need to make a smoothie. Much better than wasting money by throwing the bananas away!
There’s a freezer guide and lots more tips in the Dining on a Dime Cookbook.
9. Re-purpose leftovers. My family doesn’t mind having the same exact dinner as leftovers the next day. My husband even takes it the third day for lunch. However, I know several of you have told me that your husbands and kids are not the same way. So, lucky for you, this book has suggestions on how to re-purpose your leftovers into new meals. Your family will think they’re eating something totally different, so they won’t complain!
One suggestion is to cut up leftover meatloaf and turn it into spaghetti and meatballs instead.
If you have any leftover beans, you can mash them and make refried beans. Then use them in a tortilla or serve with rice.
10. You can save time while you’re doing your frugal cooking. All of this frugal cooking may seem like it takes awhile, but it doesn’t have to. You can get your kids to help you cook and clean. You can double your recipe and share it with another family. Then, that family does the same in return for you. That’s a great way to try different recipes.
Make one-pot meals. You can make a dish that has your meat, vegetable, and grain all in one! That will save time and dishes!
Prepare what you can the night before. You can pack lunches, set the table for breakfast, and put things in the refrigerator that need to defrost.
Cook big batches of food at once. One example is browning a large portion of ground beef at one time. Then you can store it in 1 cup portions.
So, as you can see, there are tons of great frugal cooking tips in the Dining on a Dime Cookbook. I’ve only mentioned 10 main tips, but there were lots of other little tips that went with them. The cookbook is full of even more frugal cooking tips! There’s also recipes for food and making your own cleaning and beauty products too. All you need to get started on frugal living!
What tip do you think you’ll try? Which tip are you already doing?
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