How to save money in the kitchen

It’s pretty obvious to say that a student budget is a tight budget, but if you don’t pay close attention to the everyday basics, your outgoings can spiral. Being aware of how you buy, store, cook and consume food is going to save you money in the long run; money that will definitely come in handy down the line.

Whether it’s learning how to cook, avoiding being wasteful or knowing how to defrost a freezer easily, there are plenty of saving strategies you can use. With that in mind we’re going to give you a few handy tips to help keep your kitchen costs under control.

Learn how to cook a few basics

You’re out on your own now and can’t rely on your parents to make your meals – we all learn that one early on. So what are you going to do? Now’s the time to learn a few basic dishes. Search online for recipes or talk to relatives about their go-to dishes. Whatever you do, it’s going to be a lot cheaper if you can take basic ingredients and turn them into hearty meals, versus the takeaway, microwave meal or fast food options. Humans cannot live on pot noodles alone!

Avoid wasting food

This starts in the shop and ends with you taking regular stock of your fridge. A trick that we money-saving students learned early on is to check a product’s best before date and then reach for the back of the shelves to see if there’s a bag of bananas, pint of milk, or whatever it is, that has a longer shelf life than the one at the front. Once you’ve done your ‘smart’ shopping take it back and make sure fresh produce goes straight into the fridge or freezer immediately. Keep an eye on your stock on a daily basis to check what needs to be used up; that way you’re far less likely to leave something rotting away.

Freeze meals in advance

Continuing with the avoiding waste theme, freezing meals is a great way to avoid throwing food away. This is especially pertinent when you cook big meals and have leftovers. Rather than chucking them or leaving them in the fridge to go off, just pop them in the freezer and enjoy at a later date. It also works out cheaper if you buy in bulk and cook in bulk, so use those newly discovered cooking skills and batch cook your favourite dishes. One thing to watch for is the risk of increased ice as the freezer becomes more full, but as long as you know how to defrost a freezer you can stop the build-up more easily.

Look after your fridge and freezer

Ok, so as a student in halls or rented accommodation you probably won’t have to pay for them if your fridge and freezer need repairing, but if they do break you run the risk of ruining your groceries – pretty much throwing all that money away. Not only that, but poorly functioning kitchen appliances need to work harder to keep food fresh and that can increase your electricity bill. Simple things like checking seals, making sure doors are closed, regular cleaning and learning how to defrost a freezer properly could save you money in the long run.

Follow these steps and you’ll be better able to stay on top of your outgoings. They could even leave you with a little extra cash to spend having fun!

Image: yanlev/

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