Green Products, Homemaking

Evaluating the Kitchen

I have been trying to do a better job of saving money and wasting less for a while now, but there is still room for improvement. Today, I’m doing an evaluation of my spending and green (or not so green) living habits in the kitchen so I can really see where I can improve. I’d love to hear how you save money and/or live green! Let me know in the comments. ^_^

I use my slow cooker once or twice a week but I need to find more inexpensive recipes, instead of mainly chicken.

toaster-ovenStephen bought me a new convection/toaster oven a few days ago so I can use it in place of the gas oven (as much as possible). I’ve noticed that it takes less time to preheat and I read that convection baking reduces cooking time by 30% on average, so I’m going to be using that feature for sure!

We wash dishes in the dishwasher but hand wash bottles, baby toys, sippy cups, etc. in the sink. Are we saving water, or using more than we need to? I don’t know. Which uses more, hand washing or machine?

Related post: Evaluating the Bathroom

napkins

I have sewn some cloth napkins and we use them for lunch and dinner, but we still use disposable napkins, plates and paper towels a lot. I need to sew or buy at least another twenty cloth napkins so we can use them all the time, not just at the two big meals. I don’t know what to do about plates – we use so many of them that paper is just easier. :/

We use a LOT of snack and sandwich bags every week between Stephen’s lunches and the kids’ snacks for on-the-go. I hate it! I would like to either make or buy on Etsy some reusable food bags but I’m unsure about the materials to use. I’ve read conflicting info on their safety.

I made cloth wipes to use for spills and they really do help reduce the number of paper towels we use. We have enough of the small size but I’d like to make maybe ten more, a little bit larger this time, to handle bigger messes.

We recycle cardboards and plastic bottles every week.

We eat leftovers, but because we have essentially four adults (two parents, two teens) eating, we don’t have as much left over as we used to. I need to make extra food to have as leftovers to solve this problem. Instead of making one pound of taco meat, I could easily make two, which would provide several more lunches for the week for Maggie and myself. Same with chili, casseroles, etc.

I still use a lot of cans, boxes, and packets. I need to learn how to make my own seasoning packets, mixes, etc. I’ve just started doing my own taco seasoning, so that’s a start! I don’t want to buy canned sloppy joe, boxed hamburger helper, or gravy packets anymore! The key to having homemade, I think, is to make up a bunch ahead of time, not while I’m trying to get dinner ready. :|

The same is true of some refrigerated items. I’d love to learn to make my own salsa, maybe someday learn to can fruit preserves and pickles…

I do bake my own desserts, though! With the exception of a few things my husband tends to buy when he runs to the store for me (cookies, pies, more cookies) *rolls eyes* we eat homemade. I know how to bake a wide assortment of treats, and all from scratch. And lest you think we’re eating cakes and pie every day, I assure you, we are not. lol

We eat out once a week for dinner. I’m happy with that number because we look forward to it and it feels special.

I grocery shop at WalMart mainly. I use the Savings Catcher program and we’ve gotten back just under $500 since starting a few years ago! All of that $$ has gone back into our shopping each week, so it really has saved us money. If you’re not doing it yet and you shop at WalMart, check out their website, it’s really easy to do. I also use coupons, but there aren’t many that actually get issued for the things we buy, so I don’t tend to save much with them. Every little bit helps, though! I use coupons.com to quickly browse and print them, not the newspaper. I end up saving more when I match BOGO offers at Publix with store and manufacturer coupons.

We also shop at Trader Joe’s every two to four weeks, depending on Stephen’s work schedule, holidays, etc. We love their stuff, but the food is more of a novelty and not what we actually “need” to be buying. I don’t need graham crackers or sweet pickles. ;)

I have grown a few vegetables (tomatoes, green pepper) in containers, but not since we moved to this new house. :( My goal this winter is to learn more about container gardening and to grow some fruits and vegetables next spring/summer.

Related post: Evaluating the Nursery


How do you save money, energy, and time in your kitchen?

And what are your best “green” kitchen habits?

36 thoughts on “Evaluating the Kitchen”

  1. Hi, great post. I am often thinking about energy and saving money on food etc. I often make soup with vegetables that I have in the fridge that haven’t been used up. I portion it into containers and freeze. I have so many meals/soups/cakes etc in my freezer that I need to write a stock list! I often double up on meals or make some ahead of time. Yesterday I made meatballs to have in the freezer. Homemade is best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jackie. *sigh* I know, it’s so hard! I don’t want to wash 12-15 extra plates each day and that’s what it would amount to if I stopped using paper!! The only other option I’ve found so far is to continue using them but to have a compost bin. The plates we buy are not coated, so they are (to my understanding) compostable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I want to know about the convection oven too 😍 love these ideas! We have mostly water spills so we’ll use towels for that. Other spills we try to use rags. Our Walmart is small so I shop mostly at Winco. Jealous of those savings! I bulk up and freeze muffins, pancakes, burritos, and smoothie packs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am already loving my convection oven and an update soon on its performance is a sure thing!
      Good for you on the bulk baking/freezing! I am in search mode right now, looking at new recipes that will save me money, time and energy. It’s exciting! ^_^

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  3. I love making ahead meals and freezing them – it saves so much time.
    My main method of saving money in the kitchen is by gardening. I once made up a spreadsheet that kept track of how much I harvested versus how much it would’ve cost to purchase, and even after the money I put into starting the garden, the savings totaled up to several hundred $$$. Convert that into “value added” foods (pasta sauce instead of just tomatoes), and the savings tripled. Even just purchasing in season and freezing/canning for out of season saves money too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The easiest (and most cost effective) are herbs. The easiest period are perennials – anything I don’t have to plant every year is a bonus, like rhubarb, most berries, Egyptian onions, etc. The hardest for me are the heat divas and anything with a long growing season. Living in USDA zone 4 doesn’t help. ;)

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  4. I’m pretty sure I have that same oven, but sadly don’t use the convection part of it. I mainly use it when we are having 2 items that need to be heated in an oven, but for different times and temperatures. It is very handy for that, so all parts of a meal can be ready at the same time.
    My husband and I were just discussing how we need to make our own seasoning mixes, and reduce our reliance on the quick fix hamburger helper style meals. We want to choose healthier options, and save money.
    I’ll have to look into that savings catcher program. I already save 10% on most things at Wal-Mart since my husband and I work for them. Who doesn’t want to save more though. ;)
    I used to print coupons too, but I think I wasted more money on ink since the stores would often be out of the item I was looking for. :(
    You are doing a great job living greener. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I thought about how I’ll be able to bake two things at once! Definitely helpful!!
      I’ve totally been on a mission to find healthy recipes to replace the convenience stuff since posting this, and I’ve (of course) found a lot!
      Oh, you NEED to do the savings catcher program!! I don’t know how many stores are in your area, but there are a ton near our WalMart so they have to match all the competitors. It’s the one reason not to buy generic/store brand (though we do anyway for a lot of stuff). But yeah, look into it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just an update… I’ve saved my first 25 cents with the savings catcher! YAY! It was 1 cent on water because Target had it cheaper, and 24 cents on a bag of candy that Shaw’s had cheaper. I never would have made 2 extra stops for 25 cents, but I’ll take the cash back. :) Thanks for sharing this service with me. You’d think being employed by the company would make me an expert on what they offered. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Lol! I’ve gotten small amounts back, too, but there are some weeks that I get over $10 back!!
          By the way, for some reason I didn’t get notified of this comment. I just happened to see it while scrolling down to reply to another one. Anyway that’s the reason I’d yet to respond. :P

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Since we purchased our Homestead this summer, we have been eating out less, giving Kitchen scraps to our chickens or worm compost bin. Those are a few of the ways we’ve been saving. I know there are more ways we can be working toward that. Hey! Thanks for visiting our blog!! It was nice to see you. Had you not visited, I might not have found your blog, which I followed. Hope you’ll follow us too!! Have a great weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We’re fortunate that our local council (we live in Essex in the UK) does very extensive recycling so they collect our cans and bottles, plastic, cardboard and paper on alternating weeks in specific containers, which they supply as well as special composting bins for food waste. It definitely helps us be more green. I also bought a steamer with a washable pad to clean the floors without detergent/wipes. We have wooden flooring and tiles on our ground floor that need a lot of cleaning and it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I’ve been trying new “recipes” to replace convenience foods since writing this and it’s been great!
      Oh, you should definitely get a sewing machine! I got mine four or five years ago and it has been an amazing addition to my life! I’ve made all kinds of things, mostly things that have saved $$ ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, we are on one income as I am a stay at home mum. Money is tight, I meal plan for the week ahead and only buy what I need. It has cut down on waste. I take food out with us when out and about eg, homemade soup in a flask. I save a lot by not buying coffees out too..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, we’re one income as well and it’s definitely important not to waste money!
      I’m really trying to do better about meal planning and reducing waste. And I have no idea how much, but like you, I’m saving a ton by not buying coffees/soda while out!! It’s unbelievable how much drinks and such cost. O_O

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the idea of an “economic/green audit”. I can not say enough good things about my slow cooker! I do love to make large meals (soups, stews and slow cooker roasts of all animal types!). We eat for days with 4 active adults in the house. Good luck moving forward with your goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I LOVE the making your own napkins! I’ll have to put that on my list!! I’m inspired by your room by room evaluations.

    I would definitely put freezer cooking on your list to try. It saves us tons of time and money. Ok, maybe the time planning is the same as the time I would’ve spent cooking but it makes me feel better. Haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, they have helped save so many paper napkins so far!
      Hmm, well I would much rather spend planning time at a convenient time than spend the same amount of time at the hectic part of the day (dinner!) so yeah, thanks I will look into freezer cooking! ^_^

      Like

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