These common cooking mistakes that are habitual to most of us are actually making a dent in your savings account!
It might not seem like you’re making mistakes when it comes to your kitchen and cooking habits, but in reality, a lot of Americans are wasting a lot of money in this area. Not only do most of us not shop as consciously as we should, but we are adding on top of those extra costs and expenses that could be avoided.
One might think that these aren’t mistakes at all, but rather habits we develop because we’re lazy or don’t want to waste time. And yet they start to add up!
You will realize that instead of spending money on extra groceries, items for the kitchen, or produce that needs to be replaced, you could be adding that sum to your savings account. And while 50 extra bucks doesn’t sound like a lot now, at the end of the year, besides the money you’re saving already, the few hundred extras will be looking pretty good!
Read all about the kitchen mistakes you don’t realize are costing you extra and start saving more money today!
Let us know if you were already making such accidental mistakes or if you have even more useful tips than the ones on our list!
#1 Relying on single-use items
Are you the type to throw away any plastic bag after you’ve used it? We bet that it’s either that or you throw them away because you already have a ton that go unused in a drawer somewhere. Buying a lot of items repeatedly because you have to and not thinking of how you can reuse them is actually making you lose money in the long run.
Not to mention, if you’re overusing paper towels, you’re also losing money. Not only is it a kitchen mistake as you’re just overusing single-use items, but you’re also paying way too much cash in the long run. Why pay extra money every month on paper towels when you can use fabric or microfiber cloths around the kitchen when you have to dry something? They will last you a lot longer, and you will be surprised just how much you will put away in savings.
#2 Single meal prepping
Another mistake people make is not thinking ahead of time when they go to the grocery store. It’s normal not to buy in bulk when you are just going in to buy something you’re missing for tonight’s dinner, but when you are running errands, just buying what you need one time is going to make you waste money in the long run.
Generally speaking, when you buy larger quantities, not only will you be able to get a better deal per pound, but you will also be creating less waste, which is also good for the environment. For things like meat, frozen veggies, and other similar items, you can stock up ahead of time and use them over the course of the month. Label the containers or bags, then use them at your discretion when you need them!
#3 Don’t buy things for convenience’s sake
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is buying for convenience’s sake. Does it really inconvenience you that much to be cutting those vegetables yourself? While they are a great help for people with joint problems or any health issues that may make chopping and peeling a hazard or just a hard job. A healthy adult should not be relying on pre-packaged, chopped ingredients as much as some are.
Not only are you creating a lot of waste, but you are actually overpaying for the product you are using. You can just buy the whole vegetable, and you will not have to pay as much since you will be paying by the pound, not by the container. If you’re dreading coming back home to chop and peel produce, you can set aside an hour on the weekend to do just that and store the ingredients you need in the fridge for when you will need them.
Some of them even freeze beautifully, so stop relying on these pre-chopped items if you can!
#4 Not taking proper care of your cooking utensils
Who doesn’t love a good nonstick pan? And while we all love this invention, a lot of us are not actually taking as good care of them as we should be.
Not only do we rely on the utensils we already have instead of getting the right kind (yes, steel utensils will damage the surface), but we also use spray oil on them since we think less oil is better (that will accumulate over time and it will never come off). The worst mistake you can make is dunking the pan in water before it has time to cool down – that is a recipe for ruining your pan!
Since we don’t pay much attention to how we treat our cooking utensils, we find that they no longer work as well soon after we bought them, which makes you waste money on having to always replace your cooking utensils! Don’t make such big mistakes and read the instructions properly before you start using a new type of pan or any other cooking utensil.
#5 Throwing our “expired” products
Don’t panic! We aren’t saying you should risk getting food poisoning! While none of us want to be ill from potentially eating something spoiled, the dates on food labels aren’t the be-all and end-all of product safety. This is a mistake we all make, with some being overzealous and throwing items out even if the best date on the packaging is still a few days away!
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says that if the product shows no sign of going bad, if it smells and looks okay, and if it has been stored in an adequate way, you shouldn’t be scared to consume it (except if it’s baby formula; throw that away if it’s expired).
If you aren’t sure if something is still okay to eat despite meeting all the above requirements, you can always call the USDA or write to them in the live chat or via email. Moreover, a hack that most of us forget about is freezing a specific item. If you plan to eat it and you don’t want to risk it going bad, you can freeze it before the date it’s supposed to expire, along with a sticker of when you did it.
Other items that cannot be frozen, like milk or dairy, can be used in baking products such as bread and pizza dough if they are a few days past their expiration date and still look fine!
#6 Throwing out all leftovers
When you throw out your leftovers, you’re throwing away money. Not only that, but when two out of five people hate to eat leftovers and throw them out, we end up counting up to thousands of pounds of food thrown away. The truth is that leftovers are not getting the respect and recognition they deserve! And this is a mistake that we can correct if only we look at them from a different angle!
You can have the leftover dinner for lunch the next day if you made too much, or you can use part of the ingredients in a new way! You don’t have to cook every day; you can just reuse what you made too much of in different ways! Too much quinoa or cuscus? Make it into a salad the next day!
What’s more, you will save money on ingredients since you will be using everything to its full potential, and you will also be making the most of your meal! No more wasting food and money; it’s time to get creative with your leftovers!
#7 Storage mistake! Preserving loose grains incorrectly
Did you make the mistake of holding grains on the counter after using them and then realize they had turned rancid? That is because a lot of the grains we use have different ways of being stored, and there is not one storage method that fits all! Some of them need to be kept at room temperature, while others fare better in the fridge or even in the freezer!
For example, flaxseeds should be kept in the fridge if you don’t want them to go rancid. There are a lot of standards, so the best way to make sure you won’t be throwing half of the grains out the window after using them once is to check online how you’re supposed to be storing them.
Moreover, unless it’s fancy cheese, you should be looking at replacing the original packaging a lot of these items come in. They’re going to fare way better in airtight containers to preserve freshness and prevent them from going stale!
#8 Speaking of storage mistakes: Not everything in your kitchen is fit for produce
Since we are already discussing the storage mistakes most people in the United States are prone to make, we should also turn our attention to produce. Not only is a lot of produce stored incorrectly, but it applies to most food items in your kitchen. Moisture is your biggest enemy, especially when we are discussing vegetables.
The best way to preserve more fragile veggies like lettuce or leafy greens, or even fresh herbs, is to wrap them in paper towels or another paper product, then place them in a resealable bag to make sure they stay fresh as long as possible. Otherwise, you can also invest in those specially designed fruits and veggie containers that make sure your produce isn’t sitting in moisture. They may be costly, but they are very useful, and you will be using them for months to come!
This way, you’ll throw out far fewer moldy produce from your fridge and save the money you paid for it! Nothing is worse than finding out the vegetables you need for a stew have gone moldy in the fridge and having to run to the store.
#9 Meatlover’s mistake!
If you are someone who loves to eat meat, then this news will come as a shock to you. Not only is it blowing a hole in your budget, but keeping a meat-forward diet is also not as healthy for you as it is damaging to the planet. Researchers found that people who only eat plant-based foods end up saving about $700 a year when it comes to food.
This doesn’t mean you should give up meat and suddenly turn into a vegetarian! It would be a mistake to say something like that. But rather, it means that if you find yourself always eating some sort of meat dish at every meal, you should consider cutting back on those. Adding some meals that are only plant-based or that just don’t have meat will not only help your health but also help you cut down on your expenses.
It’s not about radical changes, but rather small ones that make the most sense for you and your lifestyle!
#10 Freezer mistake! Ignoring you have one
Do you consider yourself to be frugal? Are you the Master of Coupons? Do you manage to find all the best deals out there, and does this save you so much money when it comes to grocery and food shopping? Then are you paying enough attention to your freezer? And no, we aren’t talking about frozen meals.
A well-stocked and kept freezer should be your best friend, especially if you’re known to buy bulk ingredients. The mistake a lot of us make is forgetting that you can use the freezer even when you’re not thinking about meat and vegetables. Even further than saving products that are close to their expiration dates!
You can freeze and thaw so many items to use as you need them that it would shock you. Starting from bread (which you can defrost in the oven) and continuing with fruits, pasta sauces, and even soups, there are so many things you can save by freezing that it’s laughable how many of us ignore our freezers.
Not only is it losing you money in the long run because you could have kept that half jar of pasta sauce instead of throwing it away, but it will also help you be more organized. You should know what you have in your fridge and kitchen at all times, especially before you go out for groceries.
If you make use of the freezer beyond its ice-making properties, you will be surprised just how much you can start to save! So correct that mistake today!
And since we’re already talking about things you should avoid doing, make sure you’re never making the mistake of spending your money on these!