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Frugal Cooking Tips to Help Stretch Your Grocery Budget

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Wouldn’t it be nice to pay less for your groceries? These 12 frugal cooking tips that I’m sharing with you today will help you stretch your grocery budget. Some require a little extra time and work, but the savings makes it all worth the effort.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Frugal cooking tip #1: Make your own buttermilk.

Half a gallon of milk, bottle of vinegar and a small container of buttermilk.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before adding it to your recipe.

Frugal cooking tip #2: Don’t throw away stale bread and heels.

Frugal cooking tip - homemade bread crumbs

If your stale bread and the heels don’t have mold on it, tear it up in pieces, put it in your food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs for later use in a meatloaf or other recipes that call for breadcrumbs. If the stale bread and heels are still a bit soft and not all the way dried out, place the slices in a toaster or toaster oven and toast until dry. Be sure to let the bread cool before putting it in the processor.

Put your homemade breadcrumbs in a resealable bag, glass jar or storage container, label it with the date, and then store them in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Frugal cooking tip #3: Make your own chicken broth.

Boiling onions, celery and raw meat for homemade chicken stock.
Flickr/Warren Layton

Make your own chicken broth from unused chicken skin, bones and other chicken waste. For instance, any time you cut up a whole chicken, use the waste to make chicken broth. Once the broth is finished, you can freeze it for later use, so making this ahead saves time and money. 😉

Another frugal way to make broth is with bouillon cubes. Just add a beef or chicken bouillon cube to water. Bouillon cubes are a whole lot cheaper than buying the boxed or canned broths.

Frugal cooking tip #4: Make your own pasta.

Rolling out dough.

Homemade pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna, etc.) costs less and tastes better than store-bought. It’s easier to make pasta if you have a stand mixer with a multipurpose attachment hub, such as the KitchenAid mixer. If you have this mixer, as well as the pasta roller attachment, making pasta from scratch is much easier and less time-consuming.

If you don’t have one of those fancy mixers or the pasta attachments and can’t splurge for any of them at this time, the video below teaches you how to make a variety of different kinds of pasta by hand.

You can make your pasta ahead of time and freeze it. Just lay the pasta out on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer. After it’s frozen, transfer it to freezer bags or a freezer-safe container. It should keep in the freezer for a couple of months. To cook it from the freezer, add it to a pot of boiling water that you’ve salted.

Frugal cooking tip #5: Save your cooking oil.

Save cooking oil to re-use it, but keep in mind you don’t want to fry chicken in oil that you fried fish in, so be sure you label the glass jars or containers you save the oils in (e.g. chicken oil, fish oil, etc.).

If you need some additional advice on how to preserve cooking oil, check out the video below.

Frugal cooking tip #6: Use bacon grease instead of oil.

Bacon coooking in a cast iron skillet.

Speaking of cooking oil, rather than buying cooking oil, use bacon grease instead. It definitely adds flavor!

Frugal cooking tip #7: Make your own chicken strips and nuggets.

Raw chicken for frugal cooking tips.

Three boneless, skinless chicken breasts make approximately 12 chicken strips. If you’re in the mood for nuggets instead, the same amount of chicken breasts yields approximately 48 nuggets.

Frugal cooking tip #8: Use beans and rice as a filler.

Bowl of beans and rice for frugal cooking tips.

Both are inexpensive and healthy. Whether you’re just feeding your family or you plan to prepare a meal for guests, beans and rice will stretch your grocery budget and recipes.

Frugal cooking tip #9: Make your own frozen meals.

Freezer meals for frugal cooking tips.
Flickr/Megan Mills

Rather than buying those pricey frozen meals, make your own. It does take a little time to make meals ahead of time then freeze them, but it’s well worth it for the savings. Another benefit is DIY freezer meals are quicker to cook, which leads to eating out less.

Pinterest has tons of frugal freezer meal recipes to choose from.

Frugal cooking tip #10: Grow your own produce and herbs.

Wicker basket of produce for frugal cooking tips.

Growing your own produce and fresh herbs will take a little extra time and work, but if you can do it, it helps quite a bit when it comes to stretching your grocery budget.

Unless you happen to have a greenhouse, you won’t be able to grow produce year-round, but that’s ok. Just make sure you grow extra to can and/or freeze to get you through the winter. You can even make your own pasta sauce, tomato sauce and jams from the produce you grow.

Frugal cooking tip #11: Keep an updated price list.

Showing my meal planning menu and list for frugal cooking tips article.

When I do my frugal meal planning, I refer to a price list that I keep updated. My price list has the products I buy frequently along with the prices from my local Kroger.

After doing a price comparison to determine which grocery store was cheapest in my area, Kroger was the winner, so I created a price list of all the products I buy the most. By referring to my price list, I know what’s truly on sale at that time, as well as how much I’ll be spending. This price list helps me stay within my frugal grocery budget.

Frugal cooking tip #12: Make your own ground beef.

Grinding raw ground beef. Frugal cooking tips.

A food grinder is a must-have money-saving product, so if you don’t have one, get one today, or just as soon as your budget allows. Then use your food grinder to make your own ground beef from chuck roasts, chuck steaks, round steak, sirloin tip steaks and other beef that you find on sale.

When choosing the beef for grinding into ground beef, select cuts with some fat. Leaner cuts of beef with hardly any fat won’t work well, so don’t choose those.

What frugal cooking tips can you add to this list that helps you stretch your grocery budget? Leave a comment to share.

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