I often wonder do we have to eat in order to live right? or do we live to eat? Which ever group you belong to, what is certain is we all need food. Unfortunately, if we are not too careful food can be one of the things that eats up most of our budget every month. However, when managed well the kitchen can be a place that enables us have nourishment and also help us in our quest to save money. The question then is how can one save time & money in the kitchen?
Below, I share five simple strategies to help you save some time & money as you put nutritious meals on your table.
Get In The Kitchen
I know this may seem confusing for some people but here in Africa, we are blessed that we can get house-help at affordable rates. Unfortunately this blessing if not used well can cost you money. When you are not aware of what is going on in the kitchen you could be loosing lots of money.
Although you have help, it is necessary that you are aware of what is going on in your kitchen. Ensure that you occasionally get in the kitchen and check things up. Ask what is happening and when requested to buy or top up items inquire about how they are being used. Once the house-help knows that you understand what happens in your kitchen they will be careful with how they use things because they know you will ask.
Invest In Gadgets That Simplify your work
What we enjoy today that our grandparents lucked are gadgets that cut our work in the kitchen into half. From a crock pot to a rice cooker you name it. These gadgets allow you to provide nourishment to your family without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
Using the right tools in the kitchen can save you both money and time. When buying gadgets aim for quality over quantity. If a gadget can do more than one thing then invest in it. I cannot tell you how much time and stress my crock pot has saved me. On days when I know I will be busy all I do is turn to my crock pot and it never disappoints. When I come home not only is dinner ready, but also there is a very nice aroma in the house.
Initially, It may seem like you are spending a huge amount investing in gadgets but the payoff in the long run is usually worth it. Just google gadgets that save time and money in the kitchen, include them on your wish list and begin saving up.
Ensure That You Meal Plan
Meal planning is another way to save money and time in the kitchen. Some people meal plan for a month, others for two weeks. I find that what works for me so that there are less changes is a week. Also because I do a weekly shopping I usually want to base my plan on what I have bought. Not only does meal planning help you to avoid the dreaded what is for dinner tonight question. It also ensures that you do not cook the same thing all the time.
Meal planning is easy I am sure there are sites on line that can help you do this. In my case, I use the old fashioned way of using a pen and paper. My breakfast menu is set and it is only the dinner menu that I spend time working on. I use this weekly menu plan which includes a list for what has to be bought. This ensures that I buy what is needed and avoid spending on items that I will not use that week. It also means I go to the grocery store less all this keeps money in and not out of my pocket.
Incorporate A Left Over Day In Your Meal Plan
Another way to save time & money in the kitchen is to have left over days. On such days, you do not have to cook at least not everything from scratch. When preparing your meals especially stews make more than can be consumed at a ago. The rest can be saved for a another day where you can simply add something to be eaten with the stew. This will save you both time and money plus stews often taste better the next day.
In addition, we do not always eat all the food that we cook. Often, we tend to keep leftovers in the fridge and forget only to throw them away later. This is not only a waste of money but also of effort that went into preparing the food. To avoid all this, you can set a side a day(s) in the week when you do not cook but ensure you clean the fridge of all left overs. You get to rest from cooking and also it ensures nothing goes to waste which is a double win.
Have A Meatless Day At Least Once a Week
Let us face it meat is expensive and takes up a huge part of our grocery budget. In our home, we have meatless Monday I find that this brings down the meat budget a bit. Vegetables cost less than meat but are also easy and faster to prepare. Another way to consume less meat is to have fillers with your meat. For example I once tasted lasagna where my friend had put carrots and peas. It was so tasty and I am now hooked to preparing our lasagna this way.
So there you have it, by getting involved in what goes on in your kitchen, investing in gadgets that simplify your work, having a meal plan and eating less meat; you can save time and money in your kitchen.