I think it’s safe to say that the monthly food budget is where things can go real steep, real fast without too much trouble. Something catches our eye and since it’s only $5 here and $10 there, we toss it into the cart without too much thought.
If you aren’t working with a strict budget and food/household shopping list, you should give it a try for at least a month to see what a difference it can make to your bank account.
Aside from that, there are several things we can do without too much extra effort that will enhance the flavor of home cooked meals and shave some dollars off that grocery bill. When you cook food that tastes terrific, you find yourself pulling away more & more from ready-made or processed foods (which can be pricey). They just aren’t satisfying anymore.
Here are several suggestions, I’m sure you’ll think of a few on your own too, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.
Tips That Add Flavor & Save Cash
- Save clean carrot scrapings, celery leaves, outer onion layers, vegetable peels and freeze them in a ziploc bag as you collect them. When you have a soup bone or chicken carcass, throw everything in a pot and simmer low & slow all afternoon. Strain out the bits and now you have a lovely homemade soup stock. More details shared here.
- Although fresh ingredients are best for tasty soup, get into the habit of keeping “soup bits” on hand. Keep a container in the freezer to add leftover bits of cooked meat and another for leftover veggies. This is the ultimate frugal way to make soup, just add to stock and you have an easy homemade soup.
- Save turkey & chicken carcasses (and unappetizing poultry parts) to make stock for soups. Just wrap them up tight and freeze. This is a great thing to do with any deli-roast chickens you buy.
- Shave some dollars off the grocery bill and bake your own bread, see here for all the details. It may take a bit of practice to get things “just right”, but it’s well worth the effort. Many of the commercial breads we buy nowadays are really something else, I can’t imagine what our grandmother’s would say about these preservative laden, tasteless loaves we now consume.
- Buy fresh fruits in bulk when they’re in season and make your own jams & jellies. They’re much healthier for you and can be quite frugal (better yet if you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own fruits). See this collection of recipes.
- Grate orange and lemon rinds before peeling. Dry then add to spice cake or any cookies or puddings. The dried grated peel will keep well in a covered jar. You can also freeze in small packets made with parchment or wax paper.
- Grow your own herbs, see these nifty ideas. In the fall much of the bounty can be dried or frozen and carry you through the long winter months. I have bags full of rosemary, thyme, dill, sage and more on hand at all times. I don’t pay for any of it now!
- Did you know you can grow green onions indoors? Simply chop off the root end and plant in a pot of soil. Choose a sunny spot for the location and you’ll have fresh onions at your fingertips.
- Save those bananas! Pop them in the freezer when they’re too ripe to eat and you can use them for baking banana bread and other baked treats. See this page for instructions.
- Try bulk cooking to save money on grocery buys as well as having prepared meals on hand (less tempting to order out). You’ll find details and resources here.
- Instead of buying expensive flavored creamers, try cinnamon sticks, dried citrus peels or DIY flavored sugars in your coffee and tea.
- Skip the expensive flavored vinegars, oh my gosh they’re so easy to make! Get started here.
- Experiment with using powdered milk in recipes, it’s much cheaper than buying fresh milk!
- Meat prices got you down? Buy cheap cuts then choose slow cooking recipes to braise them with…the meat will be tender and fall apart with a fork! See these Crockpot Recipes for ideas.
- Even expensive loose teas are quite cheap when you calculate what it costs per cup, but try making your own tea with various herbs you’ve grown and native plants. See Homemade Herbal Teas – How To.
- Leave the expensive breakfast cereals on the grocery shelves and serve a hot & healthy meal instead with oatmeal–it’s so cheap! See How To Make Crockpot Oatmeal & Oatmeal In A Thermos.
- Render your own lard from fat you’ve trimmed from meat, this will add great flavor to your dishes.
- Pass on the expensive gourmet seasonings and mix your own herb pot to season meats, stews, soups and bland leftover meals with your own special blend of dried herbs that you’ve either grown yourself or salvaged from dried herbs & spice bottles.
- When you have a variety of root vegetables on their last legs but not enough of any one to make a complete dish, chop them all up, throw them in a roaster, coat with a light layer of oil and seasonings. Roast together for a hearty dish of roast vegetables.
- Don’t throw out bread, use it to for croutons, bread crumbs or bulk up casseroles. See instructions here.