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Reduce Outgoings at Home: Kitchen

From Series:
Piggy Bank Donning Chef’s Hat

Section #1. Money Saving Cooking Tips
Section #2. Save money on cleaning products – go green and natural!

Money Saving Cooking Tips

After your mortgage / rent, bills and travel costs, food and cooking are probably your next biggest expense. Here are some of our top money saving cooking tips to help your weekly budget go a little further.

Plan Ahead

It’s an oldie but a goodie – taking time to plan your week’s menus really does save you money. By looking through your freezer and storecupboard, seeing what is on offer at the shops and supermarkets, and planning a list of meals for the week you can avoid waste, double up on cooking where possible and save time AND money.

For example, making a ragu type sauce one night with that mince that is on special offer. Make double, and you have a lovely spaghetti bolognese for tonight, and the base for a chilli for later in the week; simply pop it in the freezer until you need it!

Cook From Scratch

I know, I know; you come home from work and all you want to do is stick a ready meal in the microwave, pour a glass of vino and settle down in front of the TV. But in the time it’s taken to unwrap the meal, put it in the microwave, take it out, put it back in again because it’s still cold in the middle, open the wine, pour a glass and finally rescue your now overcooked microwave meal, you could have made a quick salad or pasta dish from scratch!

Cooking from scratch means you can use ingredients that are in season (and therefore usually cheaper), your food will taste better, and you can cook double, so having a ‘ready’ meal available for later in the week.

Don’t Be Proud

Only Heinz baked beans for you? Hellman’s mayonnaise a must? Can’t live without Prince’s tomatoes? It’s worth thinking again as some of the cheaper brands are just as good, especially if you’re using them as an ingredient in a recipe rather than part of a meal.

Let’s be honest, if you’re making a curry and add a tin of value tomatoes to it, is anyone really going to taste it and complain they’re not a name brand?

That shepherds pie is going to taste just as good with own brand peas as it is with any of the big brands, and the kidney beans in your chilli don’t have to be the most expensive as they’re just a small part of the recipe.

Put snobbery aside and give the cheaper brands a go – you could be pleasantly surprised!

Buy Cheaper, Cook Longer

When it comes to meat, some of the tougher cuts such as brisket, shin and chuck (beef) are just as nice as sirloin, as long as they’re cooked properly. The tougher the joint of meat, the longer and slower it should be cooked.

Consider investing in a slow cooker – they’re only about £20 now, and you can pop your meal in before work, then come home to the lovely aroma of dinner; all you have to do is serve up! Slow cookers are ideal for cheaper cuts of meat, and for stews and soups – low cost ingredients cn make a truly gorgeous meal.

Shop Around

It’s easy to pop to that one supermarket because it’s on your way home from work, but when was the last time you checked out the prices in other supermarkets and shops?

It’s well worth checking the local papers for any offers, and looking at www.mysupermarket.com to find out where the great offers are, and seeing whether it’s worth your while going a little out of your way to grab some bargains.

Stock Up That Store Cupboard

It’s amazing what you can produce in the kitchen as long as you have stocked up on the staples in your store cupboard.

Make sure you have a supply of the essentials; pasta, tinned tomatoes, stock, spices, noodles, flour etc, and you can pretty much throw a meal together in seconds. (I’d add eggs into that list too, but guidelines now say they’re a fridge item not a store cupboard item, but you know what I mean!)

Cook in Bulk

I’ve mentioned it already, but cooking more than one portion of something is a great way to save money. Cooking double usually takes less than twice the time and energy, and saves you time as well as money later in the week.

You could cook double of a family favourite, or cook a base meal that could become something else later in the week. If you’re really adventurous you could cook for the whole month in just one day!

Keep Those Leftovers

Often we’re left with bits of meals that just end up in the bin, or ingredients we just don’t get around to using up once we’ve bought them for a special recipe.

Become the leftover King or Queen and get the most out of everything you buy.

Keep a tupperware tub in the freezer and throw in leftover or small amounts of vegetables that are of no use anywhere else. At the end of the week, throw in some stock, heat it up, put in a food processor or liquidiser and make soup!

It’s worth taking a look at the cooking with leftovers at cheapcooking.com – get some inspiration and see what you can come up with!

Grow Your Own

It’s a great time of year to start growing your own vegetables; not only will you save money, but the produce you end up with will taste better than any supermarket bought items. Tomatoes, courgettes, peas and beans are all easy to grow. Salad leaves and herbs can be grown in pots on a windowsill, and of course let’s not forget strawberries, raspberries and blackberries if you have the room.

There’s nothing better than gathering the ingredients from your garden to make a meal; you’ll be saving money and eating healthily too!

Cleaning Tiled Floor

Save money on cleaning products – go green and natural!

While we all love a sparkling clean and fresh smelling home, the massive array of cleaning products out there these days can see us spending a fortune every month.

One cleaner for the kitchen, one for the bathroom, another for the oven, then one for the windows, polish for the furniture, a different polish for the floor; the list is endless and you do have to worry how our grandparents managed without this plethora of products!

Apart from the amount of space this lot takes up, what about the cost?

Well there is one way you can save money on cleaning products – go natural!

The following 3 ‘recipes’ will clean most areas of your house without the expense, without taking up much room and without costing a fortune. Even better, they contain none of the nasty chemicals found in brand name cleaners so they won’t cost the Earth either!

Natural Green Glass Cleaner

I don’t know about you, but I really hate the chemical smell of some of the brand name window and glass cleaners out there – and who decided that they had to be blue? Plus, most of the time they leave streaks no matter what you do and a chemical film on the glass.

This natural glass cleaner is streak free and the smell disappears almost instantly.

You will need:

  • A quarter of a cup of natural white vinegar
  • 1 litre warm water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Mix everything together in a jug until the cornstarch has disappeared. Decant the liquid into spray bottles and use to clean glass and windows.

To be sure of a streak free finish, give the windows a quick rub with some crumpled newspaper afterwards – trust me, it really does work!

Natural Green Furniture Polish

The adverts make it seem so easy, a quick spray, a swipe of a cloth and your furniture is dust free and sparkly good. Which is great, but you’re still left with that ‘polishy’ smell, and some of them just seem to push the dust around.

This natural furniture polish will smell a whole lot better, and cost a whole lot less!

You will need:

  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix together until combined, then wipe onto the furniture with a soft cloth. Leave for a minute or two then wipe off with a different dry cloth.

Natural Green Drain Cleaner

We’ve all had it happen to us – grease and food parts build up in the sink pipes and before we know it, it’s blocked. You could buy a bottle of caustic drain unblocker, but I’m pretty wary of anything that says ventilate a room well and don’t get on your skin!

This natural drain cleaner has no harmful chemicals and is easy to pull together with store cupboard items, which means it’s always to hand.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 3-4 cups of boiling water

Empty the sink as best you can with a jug or cup so that there’s as little water as possible in there, then pour 1 cup of baking soda down the plughole.

Follow this with 2-3 cups of boiling water and leave for about ten minutes for it to start dissolving the grease and gunk. Be patient!

Pour another cup of baking soda and follow with a cup of white vinegar. You’ll hear it start fizzing – don’t be alarmed! Put the plug in.

Once the fizzing noise has stopped, pour another cup of boiling water down the plughole.

In most cases, this will clear the blockage – if not, repeat the process. If it still doesn’t clear, a plunger should help, as the steps above will have loosened and dissolved most of the blockage and it just needs a little help.

These are just 3 natural green cleaning products that can help around the home – you can find lots more by searching on Google.

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About the author:

Bonnie Webdale is a resident writer for the Fix Your Finances blog at Guarantor Loans Company. Her main focus in on money saving topics and she has an insatiable desire to be frugal where ever she can.

You can post questions and follow the Fix Your Finances writers on Twitter or find out more about the team.

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