Want to learn how to save money cooking at home? It’s not difficult. You’ll eat better, save money, and meet your budget.
During our first year of marriage I spent more than $500/month to feed two of us. The year was 1994. If push came to shove, today, I could feel all eight of us for that same amount of money.
You might think that we ate out every meal, but we didn’t. We might do Carls Jr, and an occasional $40 dinner out, but I cooked at home a lot, often entertaining friends on a weekly basis. I grocery shopped often, made food from scratch, and shopped Costco (the store formerly known as Price Club) regularly.
My problem was that I didn’t know how to save money by cooking at home. And boy! did I learn the hard way.
How to Save Money Cooking at Home
So, instead of spending five times as much as you should, try these tips and learn how to save money cooking at home:
1. Cook what you have.
Build your meal plans based on what’s in your kitchen already. Don’t buy more; cook what you have. By regularly cooking what’s already on hand, you’ll save money and be a better steward of your resources.
And when you clean out the fridge, you won’t throw away three heads of yellowed broccoli, purchased on multiple shopping trips. Ahem.
2. Buy only what you need.
If you don’t cook much Asian food, then don’t buy the gallon jug of soy sauce. Ahem.
Bulk buying can save you money sometimes, but not always. It’s not a good deal if you end up throwing most of it away.
However, remember there are different kinds of “bulk buying” If you need just a bit of a spice you’ve never used, buy a small amount from the bulk bins at the health food store instead of the entire bulk container at Costco.
3. Buy what’s on sale.
Don’t buy $6/pound chicken breast because that’s what you feel like having tonight. (And yes, it really was $6/pound in 1994.) Instead, buy boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale! At about half the price. Buy an extra pack to freeze so that you’ll have some on hand next time the craving hits.
One of the struggles of our modern generation is that we want what we want and we want it now. We need to stop with the Veruca Salt, and learn that to save money, we can’t always have what we want in that instant.
4. Make your own.
Avoid bottled dressings, sauces, gravies, and salsas. Same goes for pancake, waffle, and muffin mixes. These things are easy to make from scratch, taste better, and cost less. Besides you learned how to measure in first grade math, so you can totally do this!
5. Enjoy simple meals.
While I am the first to choose prime rib or steak when it’s an option, I also know that a homemade burrito bowl can tastes just as good at a fraction of the price. Save steak (and other high ticket items) for special occasions — and buy them on sale.
I had more than one flashback of our newlywed cottage on Cambridge Drive while writing this. In case you hadn’t guessed, I made all those mistakes and more. Please learn from my failures, my young padawan.
Hungry for more delicious ways to act your wage? Grab a copy of my new cookbook, Get your copy of Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less. Be sure to grab this month’s Month of Meals that will help you make the most of the book as well as this month’s free freezer cooking plan.
What’s YOUR favorite way to save money cooking at home?