Save Money in the Kitchen

by Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper


For many people, cutting back on their grocery budgets can be an overwhelming experience. Most people don't think they can live the frugal life and still be comfortable. I feed my family of four on $125 month. Over five years, when my husband earned an average of $22,000 per year, we paid off $20,000 debt. When cutting your grocery bill and paying off debt, it's the little things that add up.

  • Drink water for your meals. If your family is used to drinking milk, juice or pop for every meal then start by cutting juice from one meal or snack a day and drinking only water. After you get used to this, cut from another meal until you drink only water for meals and a glass of juice or milk at snack time. You can also try allowing one glass of juice at meal times and then water after it is gone.You save over $500.00 a year by cutting just one glass of juice per person per day for a family of four.

  • Don't assume homemade is cheaper. If you get a very good deal on chocolate chips and ingredients for candies, it is cheaper to make them than buying them pre-made. Make sure you do the calculations, though! If you don't purchase them on sale, homemade candies can be more expensive than candies purchased at the store.

  • Stop wasting food. Give young children small portions. They can always have more if they are still hungry. Give them a half glass of juice and a half sandwich so you don't waste uneaten food. Put food in the refrigerator right after the meal so it doesn't spoil. Use leftovers for lunches, in other dishes or frozen in one-portion sizes for a quick meal.

  • Don't buy everything at one store. Prices vary greatly from one store to the next. Go to different stores to buy only their sale items. You will save more than the cost of your gas. It usually only takes half an hour to 45 minutes per store to get the items that are on sale including driving time. If you save a minimum of $20-$30 per trip, it is like "earning" $40-$60 an hour. If I save $60 spending one hour going to two different stores, it is five extra hours my husband does not have to work for us to pay for that same food purchased at the regular price. I would rather have him home with us.

  • Remember cooking frugally is a mindset. You have to change your cooking and eating habits. Don't get discouraged if one idea fails. Try another one.

  • Stop buying things like toaster pastries and breakfast bars for breakfast. Eat oatmeal, pancakes, granola and fruit instead.

  • Don't assume that bulk is cheaper. Compare cost by the ounce or pound.

If you would like free tips and recipes from Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites, please visit our website at www.notjustbeans.com.

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