When you’re looking for simple things you can do differently to try to spend less, one of the sure-fire ways you can do so is through saving money by cooking at home.
There are a ton of benefits!
Everything from picking your own meals, trying new things, and perfecting yet another hobby.
But then there’s also a lot of financial rewards that can come with every home-cooked meal.
Here are 11 ways that cooking at home can save you money in the end.
1- By simply eating out LESS!
First, let me state the obvious …
Cooking at home = eating out less = Money SAVED!
Seriously …. Who needs to go out to dinner, spend $30+ per person, and hand over a $10 tip when you could more than likely enjoy the same quality of food for a fraction of the price? Remember: There are a ton of great ways to save on groceries.
Plus, when it comes to cooking at home, there’s a lot more at stake than just simply lowering your household budget.
For one thing, meals cooked at home are generally a lot better for you because you can control the ingredients that go into them. Lower sodium, fat-free products, decreased portion size, etc. Your waist line might thank you for giving this tip a try. After years of eating my wife’s cooking, you can really taste all that nasty stuff when you go out to a commercial restaurant.
Another thing: Couples who cook together generally have stronger relationships. This is because they get to share in the learning experience, learn to communicate with one another, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Doesn’t that make you want to hop on Pinterest and give the kitchen a try?
2- Make enough food to have left-overs.
Leftovers are one of the greatest byproducts of a great home-cooked meal.
Because they mean that I get to experience that meal all over again tomorrow for lunch (and sometimes even the day after that too).
Whenever my wife cooks anything, she usually makes more than is humanly possible to eat. But this is a great thing! It means that we’ll have plenty of leftovers for both her and I the next day.
How does this save us money?
When you consider that if I didn’t have something delicious in my lunch bag, this means I’d be way more likely go out for lunch and spend $12. Over the course of a year, that could add up into a whole lot of wasted opportunities.
So when you think about left-overs, think $$$ saved!
3- Love that crock pot!
I don’t know whoever invented the crock-pot, but this thing is genius! What a time-saver!
For people who don’t have time to cook after work and might be tempted to go out to eat or buy take-out, crock-pot meals are the answer to your problem.
My wife uses a crock-pot to cook us all kinds of goodies in one like ribs, roast, chicken and dumplings, etc. All she does is dump the ingredients into the pot the day of or the night before, leave it simmer throughout the day while we’re at work, and then -presto! … Instant dinner when we all get home!
How does this help us out financially?
Once again, we save money by cooking at home by not stopping by some fast-food joint or going out to a sit-down restaurant! Now we have a no-excuse strategy to always have something ready when we get home.
4- Eat with friends in groups at home.
One of the truly best parts about any meal is the company you’re with. And what better way to do this (as well as save a buck) then to go over to a friend’s house and share in one of their meals.
In most situations, all you do is generally show up and provide good conversation. That’s one less meal that you didn’t have to cook or – worse – go out for.
Of course, any good person would then return the favor by inviting their friends over for dinner as a “thanks”. But if you followed Tip #2 and were already cooking enough to have left-overs, then what’s 2 more people anyways, right?
5- Join a neighborhood cooking group.
When we first moved into our new neighborhood, my wife was invited to participate in this informal program where all the houses would take turns cooking meals for one another.
How in the world would this save you money?
First off, there’s the benefit that all these other people are cooking meals for you. Each one you receive is a meal you didn’t cook and a night you didn’t go out to a restaurant.
But what about when its your turn?
Generally its cheaper to cook things in bulk. So lets say you’re making food for 4 different houses. It will be a lot cheaper to cook one large serving of the same meal than it will be to make 4 separate meals. Therefore, everyone wins!
Does your neighborhood not do this?
That’s fine. Check with your local church, social club, Facebook group, etc. to find some friends you’d like to exchange with.
6- Drink with your friends at home.
If you like to drink, then I don’t have to tell you – it can get expensive.
Like, really expensive!
Some “fancy” places like to charge you almost $10 for one draft beer. Let’s not even talk about how much mixed drinks cost. Nothing puts a damper on a good time like $100+ in alcohol just to hang out with your friends.
So, just like Tip 5 where you’re cooking meals for one another, why not cut out the middle-man and have fun at each other’s house with a few drinks?
We’ve hosted a number of parties at our house where we’ve done this, and it helps to save a bundle. Sometimes we’ll put out one big pitcher of Margarita mix. Other times we might make one “special” holiday-themed drink.
Either way, because its at our own house and made in bulk, we skip all the hype and over-priced extras that come with going out for drinks.
Besides – sitting around a bonfire is way more fun anyways!
7- Grow your own food.
Being green is all the rage right now. But how can you really be sure if the produce you’re buying is truly organic and good for you?
(Yes, even the stuff you’re buying at Whole Foods isn’t entirely purely organic and healthy.)
So if you enjoy gardening at all, why not try to grow your own food and save a few green-backs in the process.
You can start with the easy stuff like tomatoes and beans. As you get more advanced, you can move on to the more temperamental or sensitive things.
The result: A nice salad, stir-fry, or squash that was made entirely by you.
Consider this too: It could be a fun new hobby. Many who have tried gardening claim it to be a great way to relax. That means less time spent at the mall spending more money!
8- Learn how to use a grill.
Grilling is one of my personal favorite ways to cook at home weather gets warm and its nice outside.
Everything we cook on the grill just tastes better! Every piece of meat, vegetable, etc.
If you’d like to get really fancy, you can experiment with different wood, smokers, and BBQ sauces to really give your meal a unique taste. Trust me – people will pay upwards of $30+ per plate for delicious, barbecue meals. If you can figure out how to make them yourself, that’s gold!
9- Keep your grill covered.
Ever since becoming a home-owner years ago, I’ve gone through probably 3 different grills.
Why so many?
The problem is the upkeep. Grills stay outside, and so therefore they rust. Water and moisture, especially from the winters, can really reap havoc on the mechanics of a grill.
To keep your grill lasting longer and free from rust, be sure to get a vinyl cover so that it can withstand the elements. A simple cover will cost you less than $20 from Walmart and give you plenty more seasons of use.
10- Get a grill with easy-to-find parts.
Grills are just like anything else – over time, they will wear out.
Often the case is not that the grills themselves die, but that the parts inside might go.
If all you need to do is replace a $50 part to save a $300 grill, then that’s a lot of money saved!
So to make life simple, when you do buy your next grill, get a name-brand one where the replacement parts are easy to find and order.
How can you know for sure?
Do your research ahead of time. Look online to see what types of brands have replacement parts available. Then try to find grills by those brands so that if the inevitable ever does happen, you’ll be ready.
11- Keep your grill grates clean.
Speaking of replacing grill parts, some of the most expensive ones to replace are the grates themselves.
For my Weber grill, replacement grates are nearly half the price of a brand-new grill!
Why is that?
Because the grill companies know the grates are one of the most popular things you can replace. Food, moisture, and rust can build up on them in just one season if you’re not careful. They’re a real mess to clean, and so most people don’t. But then when the next spring comes around, there’s a price to paid if you need to get new ones.
To keep them working for as long as you possibly can, be sure to clean the grates often. Not only will this help you financially, but simply put: your grates will be a lot less nasty. That will in turn improve the quality and taste of the food you cook on them.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr