Frugal Kitchen Tips and Tricks

Food and kitchen tools and supplies can be a major part of the family budget. This is a guide containing frugal kitchen tips and tricks.

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Article: My Frugal Life: Food On Hand

By Lucy 49 25

I am dependent on a small monthly check for all my outgoings. Recently, I realized that I had absolutely no money left AT ALL and ten days to go before that check arrived. At first I wondered how I would eat. Then I sorted out my cupboards and it was a revelation to me that I actually had plenty of food on hand. I just had to be more creative as to how I used it.

Canned tomatoes have been a great help. Fortunately I had quite a few of those and they have provided pasta sauces, soups, and even a stew (with a small amount of beef I found at the back of the freezer and my last remaining cloves of garlic). Instead of buying bread, I've been using up my stocks of rolled oats and having delicious porridge for breakfast, sprinkled with blackberries I picked last year and froze. Frozen peas have gone into pasta sauces and soup. With my last two eggs, I made a Spanish omelet with onion and potato.

Today for lunch I had red lentils simmered with a stock cube, a bit of the slightly withered leek at the bottom of the fridge, and half a tin of sweetcorn - and it was delicious, with some mint from the garden snipped on top. I've been stewing prunes too from the TWO bags I discovered I had bought at a discount months ago and had forgotten about. When my four year old nephew came round yesterday, we had hot chocolate made with powdered milk - even better than the fresh kind!

I now have three days to go and stores are running low. But I haven't spent one single penny for a week and I've discovered how much wonderful food I've already got and how a little bit of ingenuity is a useful challenge.

By Lucy from Oxford, UK

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Article: Going Back to My Mama's Ways

Patti McKenna

Scattering of dried pinto beans with red peppers and cilantro. Cooking Dried BeansMy mom grew up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains with six brothers and sisters. Her father died before she was a teenager, leaving her mother with no income to feed a large family. Meat was a rare and precious commodity in their home - they mostly ate meals made from their garden harvest. When they had meat, they made it last for as many meals as possible.

When I grew up, my mom knew how to cook these types of meals. At least once a week, she would cook one of her Southern make-ends meet dinners; and we loved them for the taste. Now that I have my own family I realize the true value of those meals - for their nutritional value as well as their pocketbook friendliness.

There are a couple of dishes my family requests frequently. When you take into account that they are or can be entirely made of vegetables, you begin to realize the health benefits from these meals.

My favorite dinner was green beans. Yes, a big pot of fresh green beans, slowly simmered and cooked down for hours. To truly appreciate this meal, you've got to taste it. Fresh, cooked down green beans are extraordinary - there is absolutely no comparison to canned green beans. For additional flavor, just add a couple pieces of bacon, a ham bone left over from another meal, or chopped onion. On the side, we have hot cornbread (which is so much healthier and flavorful than white bread). This is a true southern depression era meal. Sometimes, we'll turn the cornbread into Mexican cornbread by adding cream corn and chopped peppers into the batter. The prep time for the meal is minimal, the fat content is low, and the nutritional value is high.

Another family favorite that makes a ham go further is a pot of pinto or northern beans cooked with a ham bone. I always use a bag of dried beans - they are much cheaper, their nutritional content is higher because they haven't been processed, and they don't taste canned. Also, the economic waste from the bag is insignificant compared to the jars of cooked beans you can buy. I add onions, diced carrots, and celery for a great bean soup. Once again, this meal goes well with fresh baked cornbread.

These are meals which can be easily thrown in the crock pot or slow cooker in the morning, and all you have to do at night is mix and bake the cornbread. When I think about how cheaply my mom's family ate due to necessity and the amount of prepared foods people now buy at the grocery store, I realize the high costs of convenience. Yet, most people don't realize that these inexpensive dishes take no more prep time than a box of Hamburger Helper. Better yet, they are loaded with natural nutrients and fiber, and eliminate red meat, fat, and the sodium and salt which gives packaged food its flavor.

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Tip: Quick Aluminum Foil Funnel

By dorothy wedenoja 170 111

If you are in a hurry and need a funnel just double a sheet of aluminum foil and then roll in a funnel shape. It works for me!

You can also cut off the corner of a envelope and that will also work.

By Dorothy from New Creek, WV

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Article: Food Tips For Making Ends Meet

By Georgetta Ruth 75 76

A large pot of beef stew.Here are just a few of my suggestions to make ends meet. Some of you might already have these tips in your arsenal. If not, I hope you can use them to make your ends meet.

  • When I make beef stew, I will freeze 1/4 of the stew. I later use this to make a pot pie to have with a salad.
  • I will take left over chili, roll out biscuits, and make individual pies. I also fill the pies with cheese.
  • I save the packet from take out and use them at work to apply to my lunches.
  • Cut an English muffin in half, spread pizza sauce, and add hamburger meat for individual mini pizzas.
  • Cut up biscuits and drop them into chicken soup, to make chicken and dumplings.
  • Making pancakes ahead of time saves morning rush. The kids can microwave them, if they are old enough.
  • Using coupons to buy hamburger help, I will add extra ingredients to make it last.

    Rolling out biscuits and making them long. Spread with butter and add sprinkle cheese to make your own bread sticks.

  • For breakfast, I will use the soft taco shells to make breakfast burritos. My husband will add crumbled bacon to the eggs for extra flavor.
  • Crescent rolls are great for make fried pies.
  • Take all the leftovers (if there are any), and make a buffet out of the leftovers. No cooking that night.
  • Take sandwich cookies and add ice cream to the center. Or add a small square of chocolate and microwave.
  • Make a breakfast pie. You can roll out the biscuits as your crust, mix sausage, bacon or ham, chop onions, tomatoes to beaten eggs and put in the oven.
  • You don't have to have hamburger tacos, Any meat will do.

By Georgetta R. from Waterloo, IA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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Tip: Getting Last of the Chocolate Syrup

By ~gloria 94 150

This might seem like a little thing, but I was tired of not being able to get the last of the chocolate syrup out of the squeeze container, frugalista that I am. You know that awful spitting that it does at the end and it splatters all over your clothes and the kitchen walls? Aggravating, right?

Next time you think no more will come out without the awful spitting, unscrew the top and pour some milk in, then put the top back on - tightly. Now shake like crazy (the container that is) and pour into a glass. Fill the rest of the glass with milk and enjoy.

By Gloria from western NY

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Tip: Make Funnel From Envelope Corner

By Irishwitch 390 18

A corner cut from an envelope and pierced at the point makes a good funnel for filling salt and pepper shakers.

By JodiT from Aurora, CO

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Tip: Planning a Healthy Frugal Menu

By Free2B 217 350

It is easier and more efficient to plan your menus rather than cook whatever comes to mind. When you plan your menu out, it is easier to keep your meals balanced and healthy, and to plan for variety. Here are some tips that may help:

You no doubt know which stores in your area have the best prices on food. Most stores send sale adds out, usually on Wednesdays and Sundays in my area. Sign up to get on the mailing list of the stores you frequent most, or if you can, subscribe to the newspaper or buy a newspaper on the day they send their sale ads out.

Go over the ads thoroughly. First check the foods you plan your meals around, whether meat, poultry, fish or veggies. Making the most economical choices comes first. See what is on sale, and look at seasonal foods too. Then plan for variety and nutrition.

Next, plan for ease of preparation and quick meals, if these are important to you. Other things you can plan for are making meals that provide leftovers for easy, quick meals later in the week. For example, when I make roast chicken, I know I will have leftover meat that can top a pizza, make sandwiches, or go into a casserole.

One idea is to plan your weekend meals, when you have more time to cook, to provide leftovers for 2 or more weekday meals. If you have trouble planning the week out for variety and health, you can plan like this - 2 days of ground beef, 3 of poultry, 1 of fish, 1 of vegetarian, or whatever mix works for you.

You can even take it another step, and plan a complete menu to cover two weeks, a month, etc, then just repeat that menu for however long you like. A repeating month long menu shouldn't become too boring if it has plenty of variety.

Ways to add variety are to choose different meats, a large variety of veggies, to alternate potatoes, bread, rice, grain and pasta for your starch, and to choose recipes from a variety of cuisines. No doubt there are a lot more ways to spice things up (including using a variety of herbs and spices, lol).

When I actually follow the advice I am giving, I do save money, and I actually make better meals. But I think I like most the fact that I don't even have to think about meals once I've planned them out. I put my menu on the fridge and follow it. I get the meat I want out of the freezer the day before, and know exactly what to do to get dinner on the table. So this saves me some time, too. I hope it helps some of you out there too.

By Copasetic 1 from North Royalton, OH

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Tip: Seal a Soup Mug

By Sandi/Poor But Proud 466 2,132

I love a certain mug for just about everything from soup to stew, ramen and hot beverages. But sometimes, I have to wait for a toasted sandwich, toast, etc.

I always was impressed with the hospital lids that kept coffee and tea warm. So, I opened the plastics drawer and voila! There was a bottom to a plastic food container that fit on my cup just perfectly. My hot meal stayed hot while I was fixing the rest.

Hope that helps!

Seal a Soup Mug

    Source: Just needed something that didn't slide off like saucers can do.

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    Tip: Three Kitchen Tips in One!

    By Sandi/Poor But Proud 466 2,132

    These might be well known to some of us "sage" cooks, but here's hoping they help those new to the wonderful world of cooking!

    Tip #1: I buy eggs by the 60 packs. Sometimes, as the end of the month, I have a few left. I take those out of my container, and hit them with a felt tip marker. Then, put them back in the container and I know they need to be used first. I used to put them in a seperate bowl, but now I can save the room. Eggs with marks to show the oldest ones.

    Tip #2: When I chop off the ends of celery, I freeze them. They stay good for about 3 months. I then pop them in a soup or stew stock, just to flavor the liquid. It's especially nice if I don't have celery that week. Once the end is used up, I just spoon it out and toss it away. The end cut off a bunch of celery.

    Tip #3: I have almost no counter space in my kitchen. Recently, I got the idea that I would put things in a drawer that I seldom use, you know the stuff. Then, set a cutting board on it. It's easy to remove, clean, and get things out of the drawer, but there when you need the extra space. I use it just for breads, fruits and veggies, so it doesn't run "afoul" (he he). Place a cutting board on top of a seldom used drawer.

    By Sandi from Salem, OR

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    Tip: Disposable Pie Plate As Make-Do Colander

    If you're in a bind, you can make a quick, disposable colander by punching holes in an aluminum pie plate and bending it a bit to the shape you need. This is especially useful for picnics and camping.

    By April

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    Tip: Use Ice Scraper for Cleaning

    By Litter Gitter 155 568

    Using my favorite and best cooking pot, I put some green beans on to cook and went to the computer to check the weather while the strings beans were coming to a boil. While checking on the weather, I got distracted by something else that struck my interest and I completely forgot the green beans. Next thing I knew, the smoke alarm was blaring and the green beans were burned and stuck to the bottom of the pot.

    I tried all different methods to clean the pot and thought the Teflon finish was pitted and my pot ruined. Then, my husband suggested I try using the little plastic ice scraper I had stuck back in the "catch it all" drawer. It worked wonders and I was able to get my pot back in tip top shape. The finish on the pot was not harmed.

    I don't remember ever using this ice scraper before but now it has a special place in the utensil drawer. When washing the dishes, I use it to scrape food that is stuck to the bottom of the pots and pans before using the scour ball on them. It really comes in handy for cleaning the frying pan after making cheese and eggs.

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      Tip: Spaghetti Server For Cabbage

      By Marty Dick 167 967

      Today, I tried the spaghetti server to take the cabbage from the steamer. It works better than anything else I have tried because of the longer handle.

      Using a spaghetti server for cooked cabbage

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      Tip: Use A Rubber Mallet In The Kitchen

      By Holly 367 1,263

      I had a pasta sauce jar that wouldn't open, no matter what I did. Out of desperation, I tapped it lightly with a rubber mallet. It worked!

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      Tip: Using Every Bit of Salad Dressing

      By Sandi/Poor But Proud 466 2,132

      When I make dressing, it's usually in a round bowl like this. Once it's down to just enough for a smaller salad, I don't bother trying to scrape enough out and messy up another bowl.

      A bowl with surimi, cauliflower and dehydrated cranberries.

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      Tip: Make Your Own Funnel

      By Melissa M. 26 106

      Need a funnel in a pinch? Cut off the bottom of a 2 liter or 1/2 liter bottle. You can make it as tall or short as you want.

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      Tip: Frugal Kitchen Tool: Rubber Spatula

      By DEBRA D. JEAKINS 19 1

      One of the most frugal tools in your kitchen is the rubber spatula. I use it when I have gravies, pasta sauce, etc. You would be shocked at the amounts of sauce, etc are left in the jar after pouring it out By using the rubber spatula you can clean out all the excess clinging to the can or jar. My husband even got him a set of rubber spatulas to clean out paint cans.

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      Tip: Piercing Cartons for Easy Pouring

      By Monique 108 177

      My elderly friend pierces 3 small holes at the other end of the carton, away from the opening. He says that this will stop that awful splutter of liquid from going everywhere when you open these types of cartons.

      Piercing Cartons for Easy Pouring

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      Tip: Frugal Tips in the Kitchen

      1. When using the vacuum sealer to keep meat fresh that I buy on sale, I often find that I need to stack things in the bag like hamburgers. Instead of using wax paper, I use the leftover small parts of vacuum sealer bag to separate the layers of meat.

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