Your kitchen may be full of money-wasters! Your fridge, stove, and small appliances can be power-sucking machines. Name brand dish detergent is your ally in winning the war on grease and grime, but using too much of it means that you are wasting money, replacing that bottle of detergent more often than needed.
Thankfully, there are many easy ways to make simple changes and spend less money in the kitchen.
For in-depth instructions and demonstrations for each of the ten tips in the post, watch this YouTube video.
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Tip #1: Measure Dish Soap
When hand washing dishes, ditch the habit of holding the bottle over your dishpan, squeezing as you circle slowly over the top of the water. If you are using a good quality, name-brand detergent, you need as little as one tablespoon for an entire sink of dirty dishes.
A great way to ensure that you use the correct amount every time is to use a simple pump bottle. Repurpose an empty hand soap bottle or purchase a pretty soap dispenser for just a few dollars.
After filling the dish soap container, holding an empty tablespoon underneath, count how many pumps it takes to fill the tablespoon. Make a note of this number so in the future you know exactly how many pumps you need to use.
If children are your kitchen dish helpers, be sure to write down instructions on a notecard and leave them nearby for reference. They may read something like this: “Use three pumps of dish soap per sink of dirty dishes.”
This single tip will cut way down on excess dish soap waste.
Other than the laundry room or bathroom, our kitchen is the third space in our home in which we use soap. Rather than waste money on inferior, watered-down, off-brand dish soap, focus, instead, on purchasing a good, quality soap and using less of it.
Big Lots generally stocks both Palmolive and Dawn detergent at fantastic prices. When you use a Big Lots coupon, you can save an additional 20-33% on the already low price.
By watching sales flyers at large chain grocery stores and pharmacies, you can get dish detergent for pennies (or even free), especially when you combine the sale price with a store or manufacturer coupon.
Generally, the number of bottles you can purchase for that incredible price is limited, but it’s definitely worth being vigilant at watching for these special sales.
Tip #2: Refill and Reuse Hand Soap Containers
Refill hand soap containers using larger bottles, which are designed as a method of refilling smaller containers. This strategy uses the same basic principle as the dishwashing detergent tip.
Check Dollar Tree for the large refill containers of Soft Soap. We have also found these frequently at Big Lots and purchase them using an additional 20-33% off coupon. Customers receive email coupons when they belong to Big Lots’ Big Rewards card. It’s free and definitely an added bonus when it comes to saving more money on their already low prices.
A large refill bottle will last us a long time by pouring the soap into smaller containers that we keep in the bathrooms and the kitchens for each of us to wash our hands.
Refill Foaming Soap Dispensers
Want to save even more money? Refill empty foaming soap containers.
For foaming dispensers, the ratio of soap to water is 4:1.
So, instead of pouring liquid hand soap directly into the container, use one cup of water and add 1/4 cup of soap to the water. Swirl to mix and fill your soap container.
That large hand soap refill container will now go four times further!
Tip #3: Buy Large Scouring Pads and Cut Them into Smaller Sizes
It takes less than five minutes to cut the larger pads into the exact size that you need. You’ll make more efficient use of something that is cut to your specifications, rather than a mass-marketed scouring pad.
Some people make the mistake of buying scouring pads that have been pre-cut into smaller, more usable sizes. We like the Scotch Brite brand. They last a long time and have great scrubbing power.
Tip #4: Use Microfiber Clothes or Rags Instead of Paper Towels
Spills happen. But, you can save money by ditching the “quicker picker upper” and instead using a cut up rag or microfiber cloth. We repurpose old, worn out cotton shirts, towels, and sheets into household rags by simply cutting them into smaller squares.
These are perfect for wiping up spills in the kitchen or eating area.
However, if you want to be a little more “formal”, microfiber cloths are wonderful. Microfiber is designed to wick up moisture even more effectively than cotton cloth.
My boys bought me a 24-pack from Amazon for Mother’s Day and I love them. They have great durability and come in three colors, so I can designate one color to the kitchen, one to the bathroom, and one for general clean-ups.
For even more savings, check the automotive department. You find no-frills, plain-colored microfiber or cotton cloths that are fade resistant and last a really long time.
Tip #5: Buy Used Small Appliances or Kitchen Gadgets
Used items still work!
You’d be amazed at the number of people who purchase an item with the best of intentions. Yet, months later they are selling it on Facebook Marketplace or at a garage sale for a fraction of what they paid for it.
It pays to stop by church rummage sales or browse local thrift shops to look over the bounty of items for sale. You never know when you’ll spot a real bargain!
My husband recently scored a Ninja blender with five mixing cups for $25 at a thrift store. It was new and in-the-box.
What about product recalls?
Many people are nervous about safety when it comes to used items. If this is a concern for you, while still in the store or at the garage sale, use your phone and simply search the name and model of the item, adding the words “product recall” to your search terms. You should immediately be able to see if there are any active recalls and if other consumers have areas of concern with that model.
I know from experience manufacturers don’t care if you got the items as a gift, bought it new, at a church rummage sale, at a garage sale, or if you found it on the side of the road.
If you own something that is under a recall, they are either going to fix it or replace it free of charge.
Tip #6: Bulk Cook or Batch Cook
There is a reason this tip is consistently mentioned in relation to dropping your budget. It’s because it works!
When I began consistently bulk cooking, I dropped my overall grocery bills by more than thirty percent!
Make a list of food you already have available in the house. Then, check grocery store flyers to find the absolute lowest price on items that you regularly buy. Then, and only then, find recipes that match up to the sales items and what you have at home. You’ll save a ton of money.
I like to do a little batch cooking at the end of the week to make sure we don’t wind up throwing things in the garbage because they had rotted.
Batch cooking, to me, is a shorter version of the eight-hour, “work really hard and do a ton of dishes” session that one traditionally envisions when thinking about bulk cooking.
My end-of-the-week batch cooking may be as many as five dishes or as few as two. The real goal is to use up fresh produce or other perishable items before they get slimy, grow mold, or turn brown. If you are throwing out food, you are automatically wasting the money that you paid for it.
Tip #7: Use the Stovetop
When it comes to energy usage, your electric oven is the king at the top of the pile, using an average of 32¢ per hour. Whereas using the stovetop burner will cost about 20 cents per hour. Not only is it twelve cents cheaper, that amounts to paying 33% less for cooking dinner.
Natural gas prices are generally less than electric. Overall, the cost of operating a gas oven is between 35 and 50 percent cheaper, depending on how much you pay in your area for gas.
However, the principle of comparing oven cooking to choosing to use the stovetop is the same. It doesn’t really matter that the method of cooking, using the stove top as opposed to the oven, is always going to win out and be less expensive.
Tip #8: Use the Right Sized Burner
When you’re using the stovetop, make sure your pan is appropriate for the size burner are using. You don’t want to put a small pan on a large burner, those large burners do use more energy than the small burners.
A small pan on top a larger burner means that heat from the exposed burner is just wafting into the air, heating up your kitchen, but not the contents of the pot.
Make them match: small pan/small burner, large pan/ large burner. It will take less time for the contents of the pan to heat and save you money, too.
Tip #9: Use a Toaster Oven
A toaster oven uses substantially less electricity than your oven. While a traditional electric oven will burn thirty-two cents per hour, a toaster oven costs sixty-six percent less to operate.
I recommend getting a pretty good-sized toaster oven that you can you can put a casserole dish in, as some of them are just too small to be of any practical use. You we actually measured ours to be sure my most used casserole dishes would fit in it.
Tip #10: Use a Crock Pot
By all rights, crock pots should also known as “the frugal person’s dream”.
On the low setting, it uses an average of 150 watts and on high 210 watts. That’s between two and three cents per hour of use!
Some crock pots, depending on the size, can be rated as low as 75 watts on the low setting and as high as 225 or 250 on the high setting for really large crock pots. Look on the side or bottom of your unit. You should find a listing of the wattage of your unit.
Need more practical application?
Take a look at these two charts. I listed seven main dishes and the methods used to cook them.
I’ve labeled the first example, “Traditional Cooking.” Using just the oven and stovetop and cooking each item on a separate day, the homeowner spends $2.16 to prepare seven dishes.
However, when that same homeowner focuses on using lower-energy consumption devices (such as a toaster oven and crockpot), their overall energy usage is cut in half!
Over the course of a year, changing the way that you cook food could result in saving hundreds of dollars.
Now, that makes good sense!
6 thoughts on “10 Hacks for Saving Money in the Kitchen”
Just curious on comparing the instant pot to stove top or crockpot cooking
Charlene, that’s a great question. Thanks for asking. I updated my chart to add microwaves and Instant Pots. It depends on the size Instant Pot that you own. But, in general, an Instant Pot will cost you 12¢ an hour. So, it is equivalent to using the stovetop. Of course, one rarely uses a pressure cooker for an hour. If you are cooking food and then letting the pot keep food warm, then it’s probably less than 12¢, because anything with a heating element will expend more energy in the “heating phase” and much less when it is just keeping the food warm. I’ll be covering this in more detail on our YouTube program in a couple of weeks and showing the new chart.
Do you have a cookbook? (Preferably in print but an ebook works too!) I eat the same kind of diet and would love to find more frugal recipes that fit that way of eating.
I love your YouTube channel and appreciate all the info you so generously share!
We’re working on putting all our 17 year old son, Daniel’s, recipes into a cookbook. Hopefully soon.
I want to add to your crockpot uses list. I use my 3 & 6 qt crockpots to make hot-processed homemade soap.
Reba, I have never made soap, but I’ve thought about learning the art of soapmaking a lot, especially lately. I think it would be a great skill to have.