Cook at Home. To save the most, cut back on ordering in or going out to eat.
Tip on saving money on milk. If you find you are going through a lot of milk in cooking and baking, try and substitute powdered milk where you can. I use it in muffins, cakes, pancakes, etc. and I find no taste difference.
Dry Leftover Herbs. Fresh herbs are great, but what if you can’t use the whole bunch? Tie leftover sprigs together with kitchen twine, and hang them upside down from a rack or shelf in your kitchen to dry. Once dried, transfer the herbs to airtight containers and keep them in your spice rack.
No-Waste Dressing. When there’s just a tiny bit of mustard left in the jar, don’t throw it out. Instead, toss in a few ingredients, and shake a tangy Dijon vinaigrette right in the container.
Start a garden. Gardening is an inexpensive hobby if you have a yard. Just rent a tiller, till up a patch, plant some plants, keep it weeded, and you’ll have a very inexpensive hobby that produces a huge amount of vegetables for you to eat at the end of the season. I like planting a bunch of tomato plants, keeping them cared for, then enjoying a huge flood of tomatoes at the end of the summer. We like to eat them fresh, can them, and make tomato juice, sauce, paste, ketchup, pasta sauce, and pizza sauce. Delicious (and very inexpensive)!
Freeze It. You can enjoy herbs during the winter by preserving your abundance of summer herb plants. You’ll not only add a fresh burst of flavour to your soups, stews, and sauces – you’ll also save money! You can also freeze extra stock, gravy, pesto, tomato paste, lemon juice, and wine in ice cube trays and rely on them to add oomph to weeknight meals. Pack frozen cubes in a resealable plastic bag.
Cook up a storm – I’ve stopped the family from having frequent eat outs, instead we only do once a month outings and now we have more home meals, even desserts
Make homemade flavoured water. Instead of buying pricey flavored bottled drinks at the supermarket, add a hint of flavour to tap or filtered water by infusing it with slices of lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber and mint. Set a pitcher of your flavoured water on your desk. You’ll drink more if the pitcher is there as a reminder, and you won’t have to buy multiple bottles of water, either!
Save leftover cooked vegetables, e.g. what is left on your child’s plate. Store in a container in freezer and use for soups, stews, etc.
At least once a week make double of whatever you are cooking for dinner. Freeze one portion and it will come in handy Friday or Sunday night. This will prevent impulsive take away purchases when you don’t feel cooking.
Have a night of leftovers – so much less stress, mess and waste!
Make your own baby food. At least then you know what is in it. You can make it up in bulk and freeze in zip lock bags.
Instead of purchasing all the pre-packaged snacks for lunches, I set aside at least one morning each week to cook with my son … it gives him some fun and cuts our food bill. We usually make simple cakes or muffins as you can add different flavors so easily, and another favorite at the moment is the Anzac biscuits….
Eat less pre-made snacks. Instead eat raw carrots, celery and cheese – they’re better for you too!
Make meat go further by using heaps of veggies and stuff in dishes. For example, I can make two meatloaf’s out of only 500 grams of mince by adding oats and carrot and zucchini – it’s a great way to hide veggies too!
Cook double batches of meals and baking and freeze the leftovers. This stops you getting takeout on those busy days as you can just grab stuff from the freezer and heat it up. It also saves on oven usage.
I melt cheap chocolates and use them to dress up ice creams and desserts.
I make a big meal in the slow cooker with cheap cuts of meat and then use the leftovers to make pies which can be frozen and used for lunches.
Make an evaporated milk substitute rather than buying it if you don’t use it often – Mix up three tablespoons of skim milk powder with half a cup of water. It’s cheaper and milk powder can last a while in air tight container.
Make your own self raising flour by adding four level teaspoons of baking powder (NOT baking soda) to two cups of plain flour and sift through.
Make your own fruit puree for bub by buying the home-brand tins of fruit like peaches, apricots, mangoes, etc. and puree them with the stick blender and freeze. It saves money because the tins are only about $1 each and makes at least 4 jars of baby food and saves time because the fruit is already peeled and its simple to puree because it’s already soft.
Make your own garlic butter – mix some ordinary butter with minced garlic and dried mixed herbs.
Instead of using pine nuts, which are expensive, use sunflower seeds that are yummier and cheaper.
Make your own chili sauce- mix 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and dash each of ground cloves and allspice.
If you do buy fresh herbs and find it hard to get through a whole bunch, instead of throwing what’s left over, make frozen stock cubes. Finely chop the herbs, put them in an ice cube tray and cover with oil. Put the tray in the freezer. When frozen, pop out the cubes and place them in a freezer bag for easier storage. Next time you need herbs for soups; pastas, etc. add a cube to your recipe and warm.
Instead I now buy skinless chicken breast for around $11-14/kg, slice it to an even thickness for easy cooking, and grill it on the bbq plate. It tastes fresh and juicy, there is no waste (which you get even if you roast your own chook), it is still faster and easier to handle than roasting your own, the kids gobble it up and I am feeding them BBQ chicken for a quarter of the cost!
Using disposable nappies can become quite expensive. So if you still want to use disposable nappies but for a fraction of the cost check out online websites that offer boxes of “factory second” nappies. You can get boxes of 100 nappies for around $17.00. They are usually classed as seconds because the pictures on them have printed upside down or something trivial like that. Not because they are “faulty”. These website also offer free delivery. An added bonus!
Whenever I cook pasta, rice, or couscous dishes, I always cook extra and my husband has it for lunch next day or I freeze it and he can have it the day after that!
Get a crock pot. A crock pot is perhaps the best deal on earth for reducing cooking costs in a busy family. You can just dump in your ingredients before work, put it on simmer, and dinner is done when you get home. There are countless recipes out there for all variety of foods, and every time you cook this way, you’re saving money as compared to eating out.
Cut back on the convenience foods – fast foods, microwave meals, and so on. Instead of eating fast food or just nuking some prepackaged food when you get home, try making some simple and healthy replacements that you can take with you. An hour’s worth of preparation one weekend can give you a ton of cheap and handy meals that will end up saving you a lot of cash and not eat into your time when you’re busy.
Bake cookies in your car. This will only work in hot climates, but Nicole Weston of Baking Bites has developed a method of baking chocolate cookies with the heat that collects inside cars on steamy days. She suggests parking in the sun, using a thermometer to help monitor the temperature, and protecting your dashboard by putting a barrier between it and the baking sheet. She says it needs to be at least 95 degrees outside for this to work, and the cookies take about two and a half hours to cook.