Saving Time and Money in the Kitchen


Saving Time and Money in the Kitchen

As moms, we are always learning and we never stop. Enjoy these tips from many women on how they save time and money in the kitchen. May it spark some new habits and get ideas churning. We have so much to learn from our parents and grandparents who did so much, with so little. Just keep it simple … and away we go!

  • I buy hamburger in bulk – 10 lbs at a time and cook it up before freezing it- some is made into patties for hamburgers, meatballs, scrambled fried in 1 or 2 lb bags. Saves an enormous amount of time later. (Eleanor W.)
  • Those people I know who have the greatest success with budgeting shop as little as possible – less time in the store means fewer things you don’t really need. (Theresa B.)
  • It may seem crazy, but it took me years of experience and many burnt pots to realize that  if the pot is boiling and the contents precooked, eg from a tin, I could turn the element off and the contents would continue to warm up but not burn!! That finally saved me a lot of food and worries especially when I was doing too much at one time.  (Margaret V.)
  • I make a menu based on the specials of the week and then buy what is needed for the week.  This helps save time because I’m not pondering what I’m going to make that night.  Most of these menus can be combined into a 2 supper meal.  Example: I’ll cook 2 whole chickens and have chicken one night and chicken quesadillas or hot chicken sandwiches another night, also great for lunches and healthier than cold cuts.  I’m also a slow cooker fan.  I find throwing everything into the slow cooker really helps save time.  Many meal ideas are really easy and no prep is required.  You just put all your ingredients together and turn on your slow cooker and there it is ready 6 hrs. later.   I’ve even done this before going to work.  I have a handful of recipes that I use over and over again. Another idea is freezing bananas to use later to make muffins, banana bread or even shakes in order not to waste food. (Cindy)
  • Buy fresh veggies 2X per week and immediately upon getting them home from store, wash, cut and store in grab and go containers and baggies for the family to use for snacks, lunches, etc. (Louise M.)
  • I always keep a few rotisserie chickens, the ones you buy fully cooked (barbecued) at the supermarket, on hand to make recipes that call for cooked chicken. They freeze well and save time and money for you do not have to cook them. I have found the ones at Costco to be the best price and the largest. (Dianne W.)
  • To save time To save money I grocery shop on a full stomach. I try as much as possible to buy things on sale or in bulk and store for future use. A good idea too is to grow fresh herbs and spices. (Kathy C.)
  • I plan my menu and always try to incorporate a leftover day. I have 2 kinds of soup, some pasta salads and a chicken fajita recipe that can use up leftover chicken. I always try to make this the day after I have chicken as the main course. Keep your eye open for these recipes.
  • I try to organize my baking area so everything –  ingredients, and tools and pans are at arm’s length reach. It makes things go so much faster.
  • I organize my recipes by putting them into see-through plastic sleeves( with binder holes), that can be removed from a binder. The sleeves can be removed and hung up under the counter by a clip. I get my husband to put a cup hook on the underside of the cupboard where I work. I attach the clip to my recipe and hang it on the hook –which frees space on the counter- and since my recipes are behind plastic- they are protected from wet and splatters. I try to organize my recipe sleeves and keep like recipes together. It’s easy to slip a photocopy or small handwritten piece of paper ( that might otherwise get lost) into the sleeve- sometimes you find interesting variations on an already familiar recipe.
  • I find that thick soups are a great way to fill up the kids. Racheal Ray calls them stoups. It’s a meal all in one. Recently I added Italian sausage and frozen cheese ravioli to my usual minestrone recipe. It turned out well- very thick and filling. All that was needed was a bun, crackers, or corn chips with hummus. When I serve soup, it’s always nice to have some hummus to go along. There are many variations on hummus nowadays. I have recipes that use black beans, and white beans, instead of chickpeas.
  • I find that when I’m cooking something like spaghetti sauce or soup and I’m already chopping onions/veg etc. I try to get 2 pots going- with similar ingredients.  If I’m stuck stirring in the kitchen, I try to use that time to whip up another meal that can be put aside for freezing or  for the days ahead. Also, I’ve noticed that the grocery stores now sell frozen chopped onions. Next time you’re cooking, chop a few extra and drop them into a Ziploc and freeze – you can have a faster start the next time you cook.
  • Take advantage of the library. I’m a recipe hound and love searching out recent books. With so many TV cooking shows- there is a huge amount of spin-off books around. Take a look since there’s always something useful to be found. I love searching out recipes for leftovers. Often I want to make banana bread, but all that’s ever left at my house is 1 banana- and most recipes need 3. Search out recipes that fit. I have a wonderful carrot cake and Peanut butter/banana muffin recipe that require only one. is a wonderful website. It actually has a feature that allows you to search by ingredient. So if you want to make soup- but only have certain ingredients in the house- you can plug them in and you’ll get the recipe results that fit. (Chris M.).
  • Having a couple of things in the freezer  in case unexpected company arrives is a great idea.  The times I always overspend are when people show up and I don’t have anything ready to throw in the oven.  (Theresa B.)
  • After Hallowe’en is over, I chop my pumpkin into quarters, pop it in the oven covered with foil and some hot water beside it for an hour at 350. I then scoop out all the “flesh” on the inside, put it through a blender with a bit of water and have pumpkin puree for months to come.  I use it for muffins, bread, cake, pie, whatever. I freeze it already pre-measured. It’s just a case of unthaw, add a tiny bit of extra flour and away the recipe goes. (Beatrice A.)
  • I make a big batch of coffee in the morning, drink a cup with my husband and put the rest in a thermos for the day for my husband and myself. Saves us having to buy a cup somewhere, it’s great drip coffee and it’s right there waiting when we’re ready. (Diane P.)
  • I buy a large amount of ground beef then fry some onion and garlic and then incorporate it into Shepherd’s pie, chilli and hamburgers.
  • I also cook a bone in ham and use the leftovers for fried rice, macaroni with ham, omelets or a scalloped potato casserole…and use the bone to make pea soup. I also clean out my fridge of leftover meat and use it in the fried rice.
  • I  blanch a large amount of broccoli/cauliflower every 2-3 days so that I don’t have to cook veggies every day, just reheat.
  • I cut up a bag of carrots and celery every week and keep them soaked in water for lunches…fast, easy & healthy!.
  • We buy tons of bread at Costco monthly/bi-weekly, slice them in half, then freeze them.  This way, we can make sandwiches without having to defrost the buns.  Same with bagels…slice, freeze, then pop in the toaster.
  • We invested in a milk fridge so we only have to do groceries weekly (6 kids and 1 lactating mom=lots of milk!)
  • We make large(r) batches of tuna salad/egg salad and then alternate them for lunches over the next 4 days.  Saves 2 nights of prep.
  • We BBQ sausages, eat them in buns or with baked potatoes one night, then slice up the rest and sauté them with Tortellini, fried red peppers, garlic in olive oil.
  • We invested in 2 large pots where we make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce which gives us 15 square Ziploc containers, which we freeze.  Also great to give to sick family or a girlfriend who is feeling overwhelmed. (Marianne T.)
  • Prior to doing my weekly groceries, I come up with a dinner menu for the week’s meals. I buy whatever is needed for these pre-determined meals minimizing food waste as well as allowing me to plan meals around items that are on sale in the weekly flyers. I’ve also found that it eliminates the daily stress of “what to make for dinner today”.
  • I try to cook at least two vegetarian meals a week cutting down our weekly grocery bill considerably. Some meal ideas would be; Eggplant parmesan, tofu parmesan (one pack of tofu feeds a family of 4 and costs $1.99), Tofu and vegetable stir fry, Chick Pea Dhal, Fresh tomato sauce & Basil over pasta, Vegetarian Curry, Falafels on a pita, hearty puree of vegetable soup with beans and pasta, Veggie pizza etc. etc.
  • I shop at a no-name grocery store for 90% of my groceries and go to the big name store for any remaining items. It reduced my grocery bill from $25 – $50 a week!! It may not be as enjoyable as shopping at the Name Brand store but it forces me to buy just what I need and nothing else!       (Deborah B.)
  • My husband cooks on the weekend. Pate chinois (doubled), freeze and put in the oven on low for the evening when we aren’t around (stove with a delayed start timer). We do a lot of crockpot recipes, doubling the ingredients, except for the meat. That saves a lot of money and makes two meals. We also eat oatmeal breakfasts with apples or raisins bought in bulk or cinnamon. We save money too by keeping chips, junk food, pop, etc just for special occasions. (Kari G.)
  • I whip up dinner early in the morning and stick it in the slow cooker. It cooks all day. At the end of the day, when everything is happening at once, the dinner is ready. I always make rice as well and put the slow cooker meal on the rice when I serve it. It’s great in the winter. (Dianne W.)
  • The latest thing I’ve come across is to save unwashed and unhulled strawberries in a glass jar. It really extends their life. Another tip is not to buy paper towels. I always have a rag for spills. Also use milk bags for storing or freezing food after washing with soap and water. They are so much thicker that the ones you buy. (Judy J.)
  • Don’t buy expensive cleaners. You can use water and vinegar mixed in a spray bottle for glass and mirrors, use this with newspaper for the fireplace doors (for stubborn smoke build up, dab in the ashes-then start the fire with the newspapers. As well, use a spray bottle of ammonia and water for bathroom sinks and disinfectant cleaning. Baking soda is great to clean a glass stove top. Finally, save some money and don’t forget to compost for your garden. (Karen M.)
  • I use the slow cooker on days when I am busy. I toss some of the seasoned meat I mention below into it, along with a bottle of PC or Patak’s curry paste (we like mango chicken/korma). I add an extra bottle and a half of water, so as to also rinse out the paste bottle. I stir it all in and cook it up. To stretch it and make it go further I add veggies (cauliflower/zucchini, etc.) and some cornstarch mixed with water in order to thicken it. It usually makes enough for my family for a meal or two, plus a lunch.
  • When meat is on sale, I buy it in whatever form, i.e. Chicken breast/beef for stew etc. I wash it, season it, marinate for 12-24 hours, package into family meal sizes and freeze it. Then when I am ready for cooking, I have meat that has already been marinated. This is useful for meals like curries since my meat has more flavor. If I need to bake or BBQ etc., it’s just to thaw and throw on the fire so to speak. (Natasha G.)
  • This is what I do pretty much whenever I’m working in the kitchen:  I know it’s odd, but I always keep my dishwasher door open and use the open door for all my messy work:  Open raw meat packages, crack open eggs, pour flower, you name it, I do it on the open dishwasher door!  I find it really contains the mess and keeps me from constantly having to wipe my counters.  Main reason, however, is that it’s SANITARY.  I don’t have to worry about those raw meat germs, for instance, contaminating other food items in my kitchen.  Since I run my dishwasher at least once a day, I know the mess gets cleaned away regularly and sterilized (by the high heat of drying), and the germs are gone.  I also like to rest my strainer on the top rack of the dishwasher when I drain pasta or wash fruit — the water runs into the dishwasher, and I don’t have to put the strainer to rest in the sink, as the kitchen sink is inevitably a high-germ area.  I just have to remind myself not to use these “methods” when I have company, as it — obviously — looks quite odd and I don’t know anyone else who does this …  🙂 (Xenia B.)
  • We only use one glass per person per day, everyone rinses their glass and turns it upside down on a tea towel.  The kids pick a colored plastic cup to differentiate and we choose to differ size glass cup.  This helps save on dishwashing as well as loading and unloading cups. (Karen A.)


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