Have you been stretching lately? I have!
Stretching when waking or before exercise is one thing. That’s not the type “stretching” I’m talking about today.
With inflation rising, war in the east and gas prices soaring, discussing budgets has come up more than once when chatting with friends. It’s a real issue for many of us. If you’re like me, you hate to complain. We’ve been watching people flee their country, make underground bunkers their homes and witnessing their whole lives explode in seconds. It doesn’t compare.
Yet, it is our reality here.
I’ve been stretching the budget to accommodate new realities. I thought I’d share today.
Today, let’s talk about the Kitchen.
When wanting to trim the budget, the kitchen has been one of my “go-to’s”. It can be instant savings.
Here are a few tips I use:
1. Don’t Menu Plan … Shop sales, build a menu around those foods.
I’ve spent years menu planning and it can save you money if you only buy those foods. But, when needing to cut more dramatically, I have found it better to buy the sales and then plan my menu. Sometimes, I form the menu while I shop. Count the number of meals you can make from your cart and you’ll know when to head to checkout.
2. Use a Budget Number and Calculator.
I can’t keep numbers in my head when shopping. Especially if I am shopping for several weeks at a time. If my Food budget is $100/week, then my calculator shows prior to check out where I am. It can be a pain in the neck, but it will keep you from sticker shock or overages at the checkout.
3. Shop Less! More visits to a store… More money spent.
I used to shop once a week or more. Or, every time I passed a grocery store. I now shop twice a month and know people who shop once a month. We may pick up one or two things (literally) in between, but every two weeks helps our budget. Less impulse, more thoughtful buying. Have a “make do” mindset … improvise if needed.
4. Cook Simpler.
Somewhere over the years, as our salary increased, I added more ingredients to meals; fresh herbs, fresh produce (out of season), more expensive meats/fish, etc. I didn’t flinch because my budget could absorb it. I am not in that place currently, so I’ve gone back to simpler options, opting for meats on sale, dried herbs/growing my own, produce in season (even then, what the budget will allow). Soups, stews, chili, rice, potatoes, pasta, frozen veggies are all budget stretching. Mix it up so you don’t notice as much. Simpler doesn’t mean less tasty or bland! Just fewer ingredients and purchasing ingredients with cost in mind!
If you are carb sensitive, like me, big boxes of mixed greens are your friend. Add a salad to make your meals hardier. You can make tons of salads out of those boxes. For just a bit more than low cost carbs, you will have a reasonable alternative.
Hint: After opening the big greens box, place a paper towel in the top before closing. It prolongs freshness significantly.
5. Eggs, Eggs, Eggs.
They are a great buy with tons of satisfying qualities. Eggs for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, egg salad for lunch, quiche whenever, omelets always, egg drop soup or in soups, hard boiled for snacks, deviled eggs for treats, over easy, scrambled, poached, you name it, eggs can bolster a budget. I didn’t always love them, but they’ve grown on me a lot!
Chickens are not always cheap to maintain, but eggs can still be found reasonably. Fresh ones are best, but they do not always fit the budget either.
6. Speaking of Chicken…
Check out frozen chicken versus fresh. It’s often cheaper and for many recipes has no difference in taste.
7. Use Cloth Napkins.
I stopped buying paper napkins years ago. I was just tired of spending money on them and the price seemed to increase. We went through them like water; multiples at a time!
I declared, as the home engineer, “We will use cloth napkins from now on. This is where they will be kept. When used, place them in the laundry.” I had some older ones in my stash: they became the “every day” supply. They take up very little laundry space.
8. Paper Towels… don’t get me started.
They are even more expensive! We had some “paper towel-aholics” in our household. Not just one sheet, but three, four, five… several times a day! Used to clean everything, always: outside, cars, inside, everywhere! It got out of control with the price for paper towels out of control.
Our grandmothers used to use a drawer full of dish towels, which I have. I declared a paper towel war; clamped down hard! Use kitchen towels and wash them. When they get ratty, I will replace them!!
I purchase a few paper towels, but we have curtailed our usage immensely! I think they are outrageously expensive.
I rarely purchase paper plates either. I decided somewhere along the way … I have washable dishes for a reason if and when they give out, we’ll get others. I also have a set of melamine plates for use outdoors. Once-use plates erode the budget.
9. Reusable Food Storage Containers … instead of disposable like ziplocks.
I like glass ones… you can see what’s in them. We can also use them for reheating, thus saving multiple dishes. Plastic ziplocks can add to budgets and are easy to trim. You may keep a few on hand, but getting into the habit of grabbing reusable storage containers will assist your budget and cut down on garbage waste.
10. Go Off Brand! Buy store brands.
I know, if you’ve been a name brand, die hard, it’s complicated. But, today, very few brand items taste different. Just try it. You can save oodles of money instantly! Value is key to staying on budget. Try off brand snacks. Try several till you get happy. To help aid the change, limit to one on brand treat a month and the rest buy off brand.
You will be hard pressed to notice any branding difference on frozen vegetable! Truly. Don’t get the stuff with butter sauces. Buy plain frozen veggies adding your own butter and spices, if you wish. It’s healthier, as well!
If you seriously need to cut the expenses…
11. Go to Off Brand Grocery Stores!
I notice the greatest difference here.
Aldie, Lidl, even Trader Joe’s can mount up savings like crazy. if you have any discount store in your area, even greater savings.
I know there is a lot of loyalty here…. Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Publix, etc. Everybody has a favorite. If you can afford it, enjoy! I love them too. But, if you want to live on a budget and steward every penny, you can hardly beat the prices at the off brand, which are now their own brands. I have lots of favorites from Aldie and TJ’s!
Running to three or four stores to gather sale items, is no longer desirable, nor budget friendly. I used to … way back when… when my feet didn’t hurt as much and time seemed easier to come by. Today’s gas prices are a huge deterrent despite my feet. You could try altering the store you frequent, if Cold-Turkey switching is too hard of a hit.
Even Walmart and Target are more expensive, in my opinion and experience.
Large box stores like BJ’s, Costco, Sam’s etc. can offer a lot of savings if you can handle the quantities. For smaller households, it may not offer savings if there is waste. Also, not all of their name brand quantities are deals compared to off brand pricing … compare for savings. Savings can go beyond food at these stores, so they might fit your budget for other things, clothing being one of them.
That’s a lot for today … I thought we’d move past the kitchen, but we didn’t!
We’ll have round 2 next week, with other current cost cutting measures for our budgets and times.
Comment your tips!
Tell us what you’ve done to cut costs in the kitchen arena of your home?
Help us all by sharing!
We’re in this together!
Praying for Ukraine,🇺🇦