I was recently a guest on the radio show “Money Matters” with Chris Hensley. We discussed ways you can save money eating at home beyond the obvious reason: eating out is expensive. Since I know everyone is trying to come up with ways to save money, especially things that aren’t too painful (I’m not suggesting you give up your favorite coffee shop beverage). These are simple ways that you can save even more money beyond your basic home cooked meals. This is how to save money while you’re making those home cooked meals.
For those of you that would rather listen, than read, here is the link to the actual interview. Consider yourself warned…you can definitely tell I’m from the Midwest.
And now for the good stuff….
- Eating at home has the obvious benefit of being much healthier than eating out, since you know EXACTLY what’s in your food and you can better control the portion sizes, but eating at home has some pretty significant financial benefits as well. For example: a family of 4 goes out to eat a spaghetti dinner at one of those chain restaurants. 4 orders of spaghetti with meat sauce and 4 soft drinks costs $53.92 (excluding tax and tip). That same meal at home would cost you less than $15 for 4 people.
- Use the correct size pot/pan on the burner (using a too small pan on a larger burner wastes lots of electricity/gas) because all of the heat goes up around the pan. Using a pan that’s too big for the burner causes your food to take longer to cook and to cook unevenly.
- Don’t open the oven when you’re cooking just to look at the food. If you’ve got a window on your oven door simply turn on the light to look at the food. Every time you open the door, the temperature can drop 150 degrees (Farenheit) or more. This increases the cooking time of your dish, because the oven has to warm itself up again. And your dish doesn’t cook evenly (especially baked goods)
- Make sure you know the true temperature of your oven. Lots of ovens run hot or cold….meaning that when the oven says it’s 350 degrees, it’s not. Buy an inexpensive oven thermometer ($5 or less) and check how your oven runs. By cooking recipes at their proper temperature, for the correct amount of time, you not only save energy but you save your food from potentially being under or overcooked.
- Spices. Those little jars of powder are great for making food taste better, but those little bottles can be really expensive. If you don’t use them all the time, you’re throwing away your money. Try buying spice blends. There’s so many of them out there. The great thing about them is that you can have 10-15 different spices in that one little jar. By using these blends, you can still get the flavors you like, while saving lots of money. You can even use them in conjunction with those spices that you use all of the time.
- Coupons are great, if they’re for things that you and your family already eat…or maybe want to try. But coupons can make you spend more money if you just buy the item because you have a coupon for it. What money have you saved if you don’t eat the item? I’ve found that I get greater savings using the grocery store loyalty programs. Sometimes you get lucky and you’ll have a coupon for an item that’s also on special through the grocery store loyalty program. But again, if it’s not something you and your family eat…don’t buy it.
- Get yourself a slow cooker. The financial benefits of slow cookers are numerous. You can buy cheaper cuts of meat (because they cook longer in a slow cooker, they tenderize and become delicious). It doesn’t heat up your kitchen as much as cooking in the oven does. Turn the slow cooker on as you run out the door to work and dinner is ready when you walk in the door (no excuse for not eating at home).
- If you’re going to cook in the oven, try to double up. If you’re making lasagna, maybe you could make a second pan and freeze it. Then you’ll have an almost ready meal in a couple of weeks when you’re trying to figure out what to make.
- Make a meal that has leftovers you can use and turn into other things. For example: a roasted chicken for dinner tonight is chicken salad for lunch tomorrow and gets pulled and tossed into tacos for dinner.
What do you do to save money? Got any great money saving cooking tips you’d like to share?Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.