More Green in the Kitchen

One of the quickest ways to save money is to cook at home. Before we embark on a complete series of cooking and saving, let’s look at a few pieces of equipment and some tricks which will keep the money in your wallet.

The first thing anyone thinks about when facing the kitchen and preparing a meal is the heat. Heat is necessary but can be a huge drain on the budget you are saving by cooking in the first place.


Of course there are rules.  Let’s save the most money.


What are you cooking? Use the smallest three.

  1. Smallest vessel.
  2. Smallest heat source.
  3. Smallest number of utensils.
carrot shreds

Steaming in microwave is healthier than boiling on the stove… and cheaper.

1. If your food fits in the pot, pan or bowl with only enough wiggle room not to boil over, you will use less heat to cook. Less heat=Less gas or electricity. When you are done, you will use less water and energy (yours or the electricity for the dishwasher) to clean.

2. If you are using a 1-quart saucepan, use the smallest burner. If you are using a loaf pan, use the toaster oven instead of the wall oven or the stove’s oven. Ovens produce heat which must be dissipated by your air conditioning or vented (along with your cool air), which also requires electricity.

When possible, use the microwave. It produces the least heat waste of your kitchen appliances and will save on air conditioning.

3. While you cook, keep a bowl of water to rinse your utensils. Try to use one utensil to prepare the meal rather than one per dish. Save yourself the time and water of cleaning 18 utensils.

This also applies to the dishes you use to serve. Can you serve in the kitchen straight from the pot? Did you know a salad plate will hold a full meal? If your food covers less than half the plate, the plate is too big. You are going to be washing a half-clean plate.


When choosing a recipe, pick the one which makes the correct number of servings for your table. Only three people eating? Choose a recipe for four or six. Your goal is to prepare the correct amount or enough to have a second dish later in the week or for the freezer.

If you choose a recipe which makes enough for 12 people, you are more likely to tire of the dish and leave the leftovers to spoil. Making only enough for the people you are feeding is also good for your waistline because you are less likely to “finish it off” to keep from putting it in the refrigerator.

Full plate and no overeating!

Full plate and no overeating!

Choosing the correct plate and bowl size to serve is also important. Seeing the plate full is a psychological trick which helps your stomach begin feeling full even before you begin to eat. Serve on the smallest possible plate. Salad plates are an ally when making portion control a priority.


Since you already know you are not feeding an army, buy only the ingredients you actually need to prepare your dishes for the week. Not wasting ingredients is equal to keeping money in your wallet. No?

expiration dateWould you wad up cash and toss it in the bin? That is precisely what you are doing when you throw away ingredients you have not used to prepare meals. Whether the ingredients spoiled or their shelf life expired before you used them, you are throwing money away.

Choose your recipes based on the ingredients you already have in the refrigerator, freezer, pantry and spice cabinet. Not sure what else you can do with what you have? Search “recipes” and your ingredient.

Read the Instructions

Boring. Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. Burning a dish, substituting the wrong ingredient or not preparing or combining ingredients properly means money in the garbage can.

Correct sized pieces means better meals and more satisfaction.

Correct sized pieces means better meals and more satisfaction.

Before you begin, read the recipe. If you do not understand the words, look them up. Watch videos from your favorite food network to learn how to sauté, mince, dice, chop, julienne,… are you getting this? Do you know how to measure? Do you know the difference between dry and wet measure?

Do you have what you need? Right sized vessel, ingredients, utensils.

Do you have any idea when food is cooked? Is your meat the correct internal temperature? Are your veggies cooked through or still partly raw? Start checking at the shortest cooking time. IOW, if the recipe says cook 10-12 minutes, check at 9:30. If your food is overdone, you are feeding the bin or convincing your family they would prefer poverty and fast food to a home-cooked meal.


Cooking is not difficult. After mastering just a few skills, saving money is a breeze in the kitchen. No one is going to bat an eyelash if you spend some of that savings on something outright fun.

Do you use the smallest heat source? Can you answer some of the questions in the last section? What part of food preparation is your favorite? Do you save money in the kitchen by cooking?

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  1. How do you correct for the fact that when I am hungry I don’t want to wait 45 minutes to cook
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  2. I learned these tips a long time ago, too. I love to cook, but only do so twice a week for family. I often use a crockpot, which leaves me with a clean kitchen after prep and less heat in the room. I never order takeout. On the other days I eat sandwiches or soup. I’m not a big eater but love the cooking I do on Tuesday and Wednesday. I shop once per month and plan meals at least a week in
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  3. Wonderful tips as always Red, I had to be careful of any typos on that one 🙂 😉 lol Just kidding.

    Seriously though, I really do like these helpful postings of yours and it seems ages since I read some, but then that is probably just me missing posts that you have added so feel free to sit me on the naughty step for that one, I know that I need to improve on my visiting statistics.

    Right I will just have a quick look at whatever was added prior to this post and then I must dash 🙂 Have fun today Red 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    • Considering the content of the 30 Day Challenge and what I chose for A to Z this year, these have been missing for a while. I have too many requests for recipes and money advice. I can often answer both simultaneously.

  4. I would disagree with some of these, especially the smallest pot rule.
    A well made pot is conductive, spreading heat evenly across its surface instead of having all teh heat concentrated directly above the heat source.

    The larger surface also allows a higher ratio of food to hot surface contact than a smaller pot, allowing the heat to penetrate the food faster. i’m a big fan of a larger pot, expecially when boiling water for rice or pasta.
    For sauteeing., I’ll use a pot that’s the right size for the volume, just to keep things closer together for better commingling.

    What is this “read recipes” and “measure” that you speak of?
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    • LOL! Your line about saute is what that means. Use the smallest pot does not mean crowd the food. Why am I seeing three pounds of spaghetti in a two quart dutch oven? ROFL!

      And those are something akin to “directions”. At least that is what my handlers tell me. 😛


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