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I don’t know about you, but we are normally pretty broke in our household after holidays. And whenever we find ourselves pinching pennies, we brainstorm ways we can save some money. In turn, I always think about the ways we already have cut back in order to save some dough. Since food tends to be a major expense for most of us (we all gotta eat!), one way to save some money is to make some of the staples that you buy. So I thought I’d share some kitchen staples you should be making that most of us are probably buying. Making these changes will not only help you save some money, but also will be good for your health! Let’s get started:
I remember watching The Chew one day when Little Grasshopper was about 6 months old and Mario Batali said that if you want to cook like a chef, stop buying store-bought dressing. And he was so right! If you have oil and vinegar already in your pantry, then you have what you need for dressing! I personally tend to get bored with the same dressing over and over, so I bought two of these awesome glass dressing bottles which have great recipes with fill lines right on them! When a bottle runs empty, I give it a gentle hand wash (I prefer to hand wash these to protect the writing on them from fading), refill it with my dressing of choice and leave it in the fridge like I would store-bought dressing. It’s easy, cheap, and it minimizes the amount of plastic we have to recycle. Woo!
Y’all, if you have a blender you should be making your own hummus (assuming you like and eat hummus. If not, feel free to move to tip 3. I promise I won’t get mad 😉 ). It’s so easy! Just let your dried chickpeas soak overnight, drain, then blend them together with some tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cumin (or whatever flavorings you want to try). Poof! Hummus! It uses simple ingredients you likely already have (except the tahini, you may have to buy that; but one jar goes a long way) and it’s cheaper than buying store bought, especially if you go for the USDA organic stuff.
Personally, I think canned soup is kinda gross: it’s really salty, the noodles are mushy, and the meat tastes processed. Fortunately, homemade soup is really easy to make and is very forgiving. Just cook up up some veggies of choice in hot oil, add some broth, cooked meat, and spices. Then let your soup cook on low for a few hours while you focus on other tasks. Once the soup is cooked you can divide it into individual portions (you can even use mason jars if you want!) and freeze anything you don’t eat right away. This is a great way to eat yummier and healthier soup, and to use up leftovers or veggies that may go bad in the near future.
4-) Taco Seasoning
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good ol’ taco. They’re simple and fun to make and super delicious. But those individual packets of taco seasoning are overpriced and contain anticaking agents and/or caramel coloring that aren’t really necessary. I use this recipe from allrecipes. It uses spices that most of us already keep on hand…just mix and add to your ground meat as you normally would packaged taco seasoning!
The same goes for italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, rubs, pumpkin pie spice, etc. If you already have the individual ingredients on hand, why not just mix up the seasonings yourself and save some dough?
A few years ago my husband and I were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. We were cooking at my mommom’s house and only arrived there the a few days ahead of time. Lo and behold, my mommom had started getting rid of a bunch of her kitchen supplies because she didn’t have the energy to do much cooking anymore. Needless to say, we were stuck improvising most of the meal.
My family had traditionally just cracked open a can of gravy at Thanksgiving and used that on the turkey. But this year was so disorganized that I decided it would be easier to just figure out how to make gravy than to rummage through her pantry and try to find some. So I did.
And I never turned back! Once you do it the first time it’s really not that scary (but if you are nervous, The Kitchn has a nice step-by-step guide with pictures)! Plus it’s a great way to use drippings rather than throw them away. Seriously, the drippings come free with the turkey…we may as well use them, right?