5 Kitchen Tips to Save Money and Make Life Easier

Thrifty Kitchen Secrets Which are Simple to Follow

Sometimes a solution for a problem is staring you in the teeth, but you just don't see it. Other times a solution comes to you in a Eureka moment. A little bit of lateral thinking is always useful, whether you are in the kitchen, the office or the garden shed.

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Handy Hints

During my eventful life, among other things I've been a housewife, stay-at-home mother, restaurateur, mature student, and juggled home and work life as a professional adviser until, more recently, I have become a retired pensioner with time to think and put my thoughts into articles which I hope will help other people.

Lots of people have clever ideas for making their life a little easier, or saving a bit of money, but they don't necessarily spread the good news around.

With my age and experience, I have plenty to say, and I'm planning a series of pages with handy hints. Here are 5 money-saving kitchen tips:

1. Using Vinegar for Household Chores - Uses for pickles vinegar:

If you have food which was pickled in vinegar, don’t waste the vinegar once the pickles are eaten – you can re-use it.

  • Vinegar can be used successfully to dissolve hardened calcium deposits in your kettle. Just soak your kettle overnight in your left-over vinegar, and then wash it out gently with a washing up brush in the morning to remove all those irritating floating bits of calcium. The kettle will come out clean as a whistle (even if it isn’t a whistling kettle!). If you then boil some water in the kettle, this will get rid of any lingering smell straight away.
  • You can also use vinegar round your taps and basin to dissolve limescale.

Cleaning Your Kettle With Used Vinegar

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2. Using Vinegar in the kitchen:

Pickling:

You can re-use the vinegar from shop-bought pickles to pickle your own onions, beetroot, or other produce.

Ingredients for Salad Dressing

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Salad Dressing:

I sometimes use the left-over pickle vinegar to make a salad dressing as follows:

– add to your used vinegar all or any of the following, according to taste:

  • some olive oil
  • a little crushed garlic
  • herbs such as marjoram or coriander
  • half a teaspoon of mustard
  • half a teaspoon of sugar
  • a few chilli flakes
  • a little soy sauce

– it makes a delicious dressing

Chop and Freeze Your Herbs

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3. Fresh herbs - How to use every last herb leaf before it goes off:

Set aside the amount of fresh herbs you can reasonably use in two or three days, and then chop up the rest, put them in a small plastic bag, flatten out the bag as much as possible, tie the top and freeze flat.

Freezing the leaves as flat as possible will ensure that, once frozen, the pieces will be fairly separate, and thus easy to use without having to melt down a big chunk of more than you require.

Alternatively, put the chopped leaves in an ice cube tray, add a little water, and freeze. You will then have frozen herb ice cubes, which you can bag up, and use for cooking as required.


Plastic Lids as Spoon Rests

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4. Small Plastic Lids:



Keep one or two clean plastic lids from things like yogurt or soup containers on your kitchen counter to rest spoons when cooking.

Or you can dump teabags on them – it saves dirtying your work surface.





5. Use a Dictionary when you go shopping:

Yes, a foreign language dictionary - I'm not kidding!

It took me fifty-five years in the kitchen to think of this tip, as the idea came to me only recently after someone gave me some food labelled in Polish.

If you live in an ethnically diverse area (like London, where I live), there is a great deal of imported food with labels in a language other than English which you may not understand.

Much of the food imported from Poland, for instance, is cheaper than the English equivalent – butter is about half the price – and there are also things which look as though they might be tasty, but you’re not sure what those bottles of red stuff contain by way of ingredients.

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Sometimes it pays just to study the photographs on the labels, or see if you can make out a couple of words in the list of ingredients which are similar to English or another language that you are more familiar with.

For instance, take a look at the photograph of a Polish soup packet on the right - a shrewd guess told me that the word "Frankusca" means French, as it sounds similar in several European languages. "Zupa" sounds a lot like Soup, And "Cebulowa" sounds like the Spanish word for onion, "cebolla", added to which the picture shows a bowl of soup and some onions. You don't have to be a genius to assume that you are looking at a Polish packet of Knorr French Onion Soup, which you will see I have labelled accordingly in my handwriting.

But I have recently done something so obvious that I should have thought of it years ago - going shopping with a small pocket dictionary in the language of the majority of food imports in a particular shop. Doing this with a Polish dictionary, I managed to translate the labels of every herb, sauce mix and pudding you could think of and, at home, with a marker, I wrote the English equivalent on each packet and bottle. I was so proud of myself.

Useful Polish Language Pocket Dictionary

Larousse Pocket Dictionary/Larousse Slownik Kieszonkowy( Polish-English English-Polish/Polsko-Angielski Angielsko-Polski)[LAROUSSE PCKT DICTIONARY/LAROU][Paperback]
Larousse Pocket Dictionary/Larousse Slownik Kieszonkowy( Polish-English English-Polish/Polsko-Angielski Angielsko-Polski)[LAROUSSE PCKT DICTIONARY/LAROU][Paperback]

Slip this in your pocket or bag when you go to a Polski Slep (Polish shop) and you'll be able to check all the ingredients and translate all the labels.

 

I confess that, being interested in language generally, I have dictionaries and language courses in a lot more languages than most people would, but, hey, you can usually pick up a cheap dictionary at a car boot sale or charity shop or an on-line auction – that’s how I acquired all mine.

Or you could search online to find a list of translations for most common foods in any given language (what is known as a Cheat Sheet), and print it off to take on your shopping jaunts. It will save you money and allow you to try out new things without worrying that they contain ingredients which disgust you. In my case, sauerkraut, processed pork, and hazelnuts are foods which I would give a miss to, whilst anything containing anchovies, chilli and red peppers would be worth a try.

If you found any of these tips useful, you can rate them here

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Comments - what did you think after reading all this? 10 comments

Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

Being older My mother taught me not to waste and to this day nothing gets thrown out. Waste not, want not. Thanks interesting hub.


favored profile image

favored 2 years ago from USA

Vinegar is like the best thing since sliced bread in my house. I keep a small spray bottle in the bathroom for the fixtures to prevent water spots. It works great for soaking pet bowls as well. Thanks for the other tips. They'll come in handy. Pinned to my kitchen board :)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

You've shared some useful tips. I'll keep them in mind. I'm sure I'll use them some time soon!


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 2 years ago from London Author

I must try it on my cat's bowl - good idea, thanks


Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen Swan 22 months ago from County Durham

Some great tips here. I love saving things for other uses. I like the idea of taking a Polish dictionary with me. At the moment it is only the red cabbage I buy. Now I may venture further.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 20 months ago from Germany

A very useful tips most of which I already applied to my housewife life. I have to think about using dictionary too when I go shopping in another country. Here in Germany, the Polish / Italian food descriptions are also written in German. That makes it easy for me to go shopping. Thanks for the tips.


mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida

I use a lot of vinegar in and out of the house! I just wish it could have a nicer scent. My son-in-law came over yesterday to borrow some of mine. He needed some to get rid of rust in a car part; said it works like a charm.


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 17 months ago from London Author

I've never heard of using vinegar to get rid of rust - I must remember that, thanks


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 months ago from Templeton, CA

I love your hints for making the best use of fresh herbs. I sometimes reuse oils that come in jars of artichoke hearts when I make salad dressings.


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 5 months ago from London Author

Yes that's a good idea. And that holds good for any vegetables in oil - I particularly like chillies and peppers, which give the oil a good strong flavor

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