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10 Frugal Kitchen Tips to Stretch Your Dollar

Updated on October 21, 2009

There are so many ways to save money every day, but one of the easiest places is the kitchen. When I am looking to stretch my budget, the kitchen is the first place I look to cut. There are just so many ways to save money in the food department. I thought I would put together a hub on tips for saving money in the kitchen. I hope you like it!

  1. Don't let food go bad. The most expensive food is the food you throw out. Either make just enough so that there are no leftovers, have a plan for your leftovers, or throw them in the freezer in individual portions making lunches super easy.
  2. Produce is an area where food can go bad quickly. Store it properly to help this. When purchasing fresh produce for the week, get a mixture of items that will need eaten right away (berries) and items that will last all week easily (carrots).
  3. Make your own condiments. It is cheaper and better for you to make your own chocolate syrup, maple syrup and many salad dressings. Once you buy the main ingredients in large quantities, it becomes cheaper to make these items yourself. And you will never have to run to the store when you are out.
  4. Do the math on your meals. Side dishes, drinks and desserts included. Once you figure out how much it costs to make the foods you like, you can figure out ways to cut those costs. You can also make choices based on the cost. Say you want to have a more expensive main dish like chicken cordon bleu, but don't want to ruin your whole budget for the week. Not only can you choose less expensive side dishes to accompany this meal, you can balance this expensive dinner with cheaper dinners the rest of the week.
  5. Eat produce that is in season. It is less expensive and it doesn't have to travel as far to get to you, which means it is better for the environment.
  6. Have a night or two each week that you don't eat meat. At the very least the meat should not be the main focus of the meal.
  7. Shop your pantry first before heading to the store. Figure out what you need to go with what you already have. Don't start from scratch each week.
  8. Stock up on much used items when they are on sale, then you won't have to pay full price next week, or the week after, etc. depending on how much you stockpile.
  9. Cook as much as possible from scratch. If you have the right basic ingredients at home, you can make just about anything.
  10. Stretch foods as much as possible. See the examples below.
  • If you buy a jar of pickles, once you have used the pickles, cut up a cucumber and add it to the juice left in the jar. Store in the fridge for a few days and you have a new jar of pickles for the cost of the cucumber.
  • When my dad was in town recently I bought an expensive jar of seasoned oil to go with our bread. When we used the last of the oil we noticed the bottom of the jar was still full of the seasonings. I filled it with olive oil, shook it up and we have another bottle of seasoned oil, minus the high cost.
  • Last time I made tacos, I quickly cooked up a pot of instant rice while the beef was browning. When that was all done, I mixed it together and added the taco seasoning. Everyone loved it and a cup of instant rice is much cheaper than more ground beef.
  • Try to use less of something each time you use it until you notice a difference in flavor. Maybe the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, but really 3/4 teaspoon works just fine.


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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I love the oil idea. That probably goes for many things. Lots of great ideas here. Voted up and shared.

    • trnty69 profile image


      7 years ago

      great info...we learn everyday. thanks for sharing :)

    • lain profile image


      8 years ago from London

      I would add: grow as much food as possible. Turn your lawn into a garden - a garden will not only produce food, but also use less water, fuel and labor. If you don't have any outdoor space, you can always grow herbs on your window sill.

    • MsFran profile image


      8 years ago from Here and There, Everywhere

      I so love your tips. These may come handy anytime. I also agree that you should only buy food that you can consume. A lot of people buy more than they can eat and this is just a waste of food and money. Nice tips!

    • troy0619 profile image


      8 years ago from puerto rico

      One good tip is not to make one big purchase for the month cuase if you see more in the cupboard and fridge the more you'll eat. Go for 2 or 3 supermarket trips a month when you really need too.

    • profile image

      Spice Rack 

      8 years ago

      Hi Jennifer

      I absolutely agree on suggestion number 1. I usually put my left overs on my spice rack but now i learn my lesson, "Don't let food go bad" Nice blog!

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      8 years ago

      great hub and great ideas. I all for saving some money.

    • profile image

      Wanda Gentry 

      8 years ago

      Liked the pickle idea. Bought cucumbers today, but tossed pickle juice last night. Talk about timing.

    • MrSpock profile image


      8 years ago

      I like suggestion number four. Doing the math for the food helps you to know how much money is spent every month.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 

      8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Very good ideas Jennifer! I hadn't thought about the cucumbers in the pickle juice...definitely worth a try since we all love pickles.

      The other ideas are great too! If I do have produce that goes bad, I just toss it in the compost does serve another purpose down the road.

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      8 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      Fantastic tips. I really understand about calculating the cost of the meal and then working on reducing that. It seems to be quite tricky to do it, but I will find the way! I bet you will see how economical it is to cook youself, rather than always buy pre-cooked stuff for the microwave. This will make you feel it's worth the effort! It's all psychology!

      What would be the cost of 3 cloves of garlic or half an onion from a 2lb bag. Still...I'm goingto try. Thanks

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I really loved your tips, it's like there is someone out there who thinks like me! Love the pickle jar, my Grandma used to just put the cucumber slices in a bowl of vinegar and keep them in the fridge.

    • Karina S. profile image

      Karina S. 

      8 years ago from USA

      Great hub, good tips. I agree -kitchen is a best place to save money.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      8 years ago

      Jennifer, Nice hub with great frugal tips! Thank you for sharing, Blessings!

    • Madison22 profile image


      9 years ago from NYC

      Great tips, I really like the examples for #10. Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Can't believe the Gabriel Method works that well.

      It's a miracle that dude doesn't have strech-marks.

    • carriegoff profile image


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Great ideas. It's just a matter of rethinking, sometimes. Thanks for your hub

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      good stuff, thx again

    • BulkLotWarehouse profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      Some really great information here, thanks


    • sumosalesman profile image


      9 years ago from Somersworth New Hampshire

      Very well-rounded hub on saving money... buying food has often been a downfall for me in an otherwise balanced budget so I'll be referring back to this from time to time. Yay pickle idea, too!

    • esllr profile image


      9 years ago from Charlotte

      Great Hub! You can also go to to get 4 rebate checks a year for your weekly shopping. is also agreat way to save money from your everydays shopping. They have off and online coupons at stores like walmart and target and have been active over 10 years.

    • Ellen_C profile image


      9 years ago

      I started buying Organic milk, it is good for a month!!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 

      9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      very practical and healthy tips. you've also proved thatfood doesn't need to be expensive to be healthy yummy.

    • AllMomNeeds2know profile image


      9 years ago

      Great Advice, thanks. It just takes some rethinking doesn't it.

    • chuckthomas5453 profile image


      9 years ago

      Absolutely agree. Nice info and we really need every money saving tip we can get nowadays so thanks.

    • Dorrene R profile image

      Dorrene R 

      9 years ago

      I love articles like this and you make it very interesting!

      Thanks again.

    • EcoAsh profile image


      9 years ago from Hemet

      nice hub! great tips! i will definetely have to take your advice.

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 

      9 years ago

      These are all excellent tips. Many do not realize just how much they spend on food each week. If handled properly and shopping done carefully it can be significantly less and you can still eat well.

    • expectus profile image


      9 years ago from Land Downunder

      nice tips for extreme frugality:)

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good hub.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the ideas. I'll be on my own for the first time this fall and find this info very valuable.

    • lilmom0413 profile image


      9 years ago from

      Great suggestions I can not wait to try some of them.

    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N.E. Wright 

      9 years ago from Bronx, NY

      I love your hub. It is very informative.

      I promised myself -- because of my time restraints -- I would read three hubs a day. Your hub was the last, and I must say -- as most already have -- I love the pickle tip, and I will do it, because I love pickles. Lol.

      Cannot wait to read more of your hubs.

    • hienergybrain profile image


      9 years ago

      i agree with all of those little tips and would lke to add one of my own for everyoneeverthingf is cheaper when you buy it from the people who are closest to it, e.g. rice at an asian food store, chilis at a mexican one, and fruit from an orchard

    • rsmallory profile image

      Rebecca Sue Mallory 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Jen, great hub! Thanks for the tips!

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 

      9 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK


      You've written a really great hub. So pertinent and true.

      Congratulations on your score of 100.

    • 2patricias profile image


      9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      A good list of tips, and some of these are better for your health. For example, a dish cooked from scratch is likely to include less salt, sugar and preservatives than one bought 'ready-made'.


    • douel27 profile image


      9 years ago

      great idea

    • RiaMorrison profile image

      Ria Bridges 

      9 years ago from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

      Excellent suggestions! I like the one about mixing rice with hamburger, and the seasonings left in the bottle. I'll definitely have to remember those for my own kitchen endeavours. :)

    • wesleycox profile image


      9 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Excellent tips to save money.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      Thanks for the tips. I enjoy living frugal too. Check out my How a Foodsaver Can Save You Money on Groceries

    • currieemily75 profile image


      9 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Jennifer, thanks for this very practical information. This was very helpful!

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Yes, for third time, I really like your pickle idea! We actually do that all the time. When I was in college, I thought of a dozen ways to save money and one of them was by leeching off my parents before I headed back to school to begin the term by getting them to bring me to a Costco or Sam's Club to stock up on non-perishable foods and general hygiene items like soap and shampoo. We'd spend about $250, but it worked out because during the course of the semester, I'd only have to buy fruits, vegetables and meats. Thanks for the advice.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      One of the ways to make bananas last longer is to actually store them in the refrigerator. Their skin will brown, but they will hold. A tip from Alton Brown of the TV show Good Eats.

    • anjalichugh profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      I have to agree with Mindfield. You just gave me an idea about the leftover pickle juice. Thx for sharing such amazing tips.

    • MindField profile image


      9 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I just loved this hub! That "cucumber in the pickle juice" is just one of the reasons why.


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