Do you feel like you are spending way too much time in the kitchen trying to cook real food? Maybe you feel like you are spending too much money on real food and you want a few ideas for how to make the budget stretch.
If so, you're going to love these budget-friendly real food hacks!
1. Save Leftover Bread and Muffins
Do you buy specialty breads or make your own bread? If your family is like mine and won't eat the ends of the loaf of bread, save them! Break up the end pieces and save them in a container in the freezer. Soon you'll have accumulated enough to make some tasty homemade stuffing. This also works for gluten free bread, and you'll have yourself enough to make a nearly-free gluten free stuffing!
- Homemade Savory Stuffing (Dairy Free and Gluten Free Options) by The Nourishing Home
- Make Bread Pudding with Leftover Muffins by Homemade Dutch Apple Pie
2. Regrow Onions
Don't throw away the ends of those green onions! Place them in a container with water and set them in the windowsill. In a week or so you'll have a fresh batch of green onion to chop.
3. Freeze Produce
There are so many kinds of fruits and vegetables that do great in the freezer, which comes in handy if you find some on sale or you're worried about produce going bad in the fridge or on the counter.
Stick overripe banana directly into the freezer to make banana bread or smoothies later. Plums, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and many other fruits can be chopped and frozen as well. They make great additions to smoothies, or thaw and make them into pie, cobbler, or a myriad of delectable treats.
Carrots, onions, zucchini, small potatoes (whole), etc., can all be frozen quite easily and used for soups, stews, and more.
Try some of these recipes and tips for freezing produce:
- How to Make Large Batch Quacamole for the Freezer by Raising Generation Nourished
- Freezing Green Peppers by Simply Healthy Home
- How to Freeze Strawberries by Naturally Loriel
4. Freeze Herbs
Chop and freeze fresh herbs in small ice cube trays with coconut or olive oil. Once they are frozen solid, pop them out of the trays and store them in a freezer bag with a label for each type of herb. This makes it super easy to find your favorite herbs and add the frozen cubes to just about any recipe.
5. Freeze Beans
Did you know that cooked beans can be frozen? By far the cheapest beans you can buy are dry beans. Soak the dried beans overnight, drain in the morning, sprout if desired, and boil the beans on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until they are soft. Drain the beans and allow them to cool completely. Store them in durable glass jars or freezer bags in the freezer, but don't forget to label them.
- Sprouting and Freezing Beans by Raising Generation Nourished
6. Learn How to Stretch a Chicken
A whole chicken is a very economical thing to keep in your freezer. Do you know how to make it stretch? You can often get enough meat from a chicken to last for a week's worth of meals, plus make bone broth for soups and extra nourishing meals.
- 11 Ways to Use Leftover Chicken by Naturally Loriel
- Crockpot or Oven-Roaster Chicken for Fast, Weekday Meals by Raising Generation Nourished
- 20 Ways to Use Up Roasted Chicken by The Rising Spoon
- How to Cut Up a Chicken by Homemade Dutch Apple Pie
7. Dehydrate Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs With or Without a Dehydrator
If you prefer a more shelf stable way of preserving your produce, try dehydrating. It can be done with a dehydrator or without.
- Drying Herbs Without a Dehydrator by Learning and Yearning
- Dehydrating Celery and Tomato Skins by Simply Healthy Home
- How to Dehydrate Fruit by Don't Waste the Crumbs
- How to Dehydrate Vegetables by Kitchen Stewardship
8. Make a Meal Plan
Meal planning is one of the best ways to save time and money in the kitchen. When you have a meal plan, you can do all of your shopping at once. Because there is no confusion about what ingredients to buy for the upcoming week, you won't spend money on things you won't use. It also saves time because you will know exactly what needs to be prepared for the week ahead.
>> Check out these Real Food Meal Plans
Try to do your shopping and prep work on the same day. It's that much easier to cook healthy meals throughout the week if you know that everything is ready and waiting for you in the kitchen.
Here are some tools to help you get started with meal planning:
9. Ready-To-Go Smoothies
Smoothies are a great way to get in a lot of nutrition in a delicious and portable form. The only hassle can be gathering all of your ingredients. You can make whipping up a smoothie a lot faster with these smoothie hacks:
- DIY Freezer Smoothie Packs by Live Simply
- Don't Trash Your Leftover Smoothies! by It's a Love/Love Thing
10. Transform Your Leftovers
Leftovers don't have to be eaten as-is. You can transform your leftovers into a whole new meal. Leftover rice dishes, soups, stews, and more can all be made into something new and appealing. Check out these leftover transformation how-to's and recipes:
- Transform Your Leftovers by Attainable Sustainable
- Make these Eggie Rice Cups with leftover rice
- Leftovers Frittata by Real Food RN
- Leftovers Pancakes by Common Sense Homesteading
- 3 Easy Lunches Using Leftovers by The Nourishing Home
11. Make Your Produce Last Longer
So you're eating real food and you're buying more produce. Unfortunately eating produce means that food can go to waste a lot faster than the old pre-packaged standard american diet. How do you buy lots of fresh produce without wasting the budget on food that goes bad too quickly?
Try these produce hacks:
- Five Tips for Making Your Produce Last Longer by The Rising Spoon
- How to Keep Berries Fresh by Live Simply