Easy Kitchen Hacks to Save Money

We are all looking for some extra money in the budget, and food is a great place to find wiggle room.

Today, I want to share my best kitchen hacks that I use to save money on food. I was raised by Depression Era parents in rural Kansas, and I still live in many of the same ways that I was raised, so my suggestions may seem unusual, but you are welcome to take and use whatever works for your family.

Hamburger buns

We are often tempted to discard things because they are past their expiry date. The key to saving money in the kitchen is not giving up on foods that easily. A lot of foods are still edible and usable after their “best by” date.

For example, I have bought Sara Lee hamburger buns that claim to have expired. However, they are not moldy, and are perfectly safe to use. They might be a bit drier, but if you take these, butter them and you toast them in a griddle on the stove, like you would a grilled cheese, they soften right up and taste delicious. I do not toss things until I see mold.

Moreover, I have found that hamburger buns make a really good breakfast sandwich. We are used to using English muffins, bagels, toast, wraps for breakfast sandwiches, and hamburger buns just do not seem to fit: they are what you use for sandwiches, lunch, dinner, Saturdays, cookouts, but not breakfast.

I assure you, however, that they make an excellent breakfast sandwich, in spite of our intuition, so if you have some lying around with no other use, feel free to toast them and have them for breakfast, and save on English muffins or bagels that week.


Hot dog buns also have unexpected uses. You can toast them and add garlic in order to make them into garlic breadsticks to go with your spaghetti.

You can also spread spaghetti sauce on them, top them with mozzarella cheese and bake until it melts. This is an excellent option for when you have leftovers, such as spaghetti sauce.

Those hot dog buns would have also been good with chili on top, meatballs, and so many other things. Never feel bad about getting creative in your kitchen and using up leftovers.

The next tip is to use cheap Italian dressing as marinades. I got two bottles for $2 last time I was shopping. You can use this on chicken, but our favorite thing to use it on is shrimp. I honestly did not like shrimp before I tried it this way.

Buy the large shrimp with the shell, dump the dressing in a Ziploc bag with the shrimp, and put it in the fridge for 24 hours to get marinated. When you come home from work the next night, put it in a pan, cover it and bake it till your shrimp is done.

Going to All You Can Eat Shrimp at Red Lobster would cost $20 a person, or you could do this, throw in a baked potato and a vegetable, and both of you could have a restaurant quality meal for less than $12.

Probably my best kitchen cleaning hack is to never purchase rags or washcloths to use in your kitchen area or to use for your cleaning. Instead, take those old towels that are a bit frayed or have strings or holes in them, cut them up and use them as rags in the kitchen.

We even will use them to wash cars in our yard. They are great, and their thickness makes them an even better rag because they absorb better than some of the ones that you will purchase.

Cooking bacon

Bacon has become quite expensive, so something we do when we buy some is cut the package right down the center. This way, we fool ourselves and feel like we have twice the amount of bacon. When you fry it up, it seems like it fries flatter and does not twist, creating an illusion of more bacon again.

Do not forget the basic things like plain old gravy. We had that as a supper quite often when the kids were growing up. It is an inexpensive and filling meal.

You can also add hamburger to it and make hamburger gravy, have it over biscuits, over toast, over mashed potatoes. You can also do sausage gravy if you are a sausage fan. I loved making those when I was in a hurry after a long day at work.

Cheap meal idea

When we have some items that need to be used up, I just tell my husband that we are making a new recipe.

Tonight, I had some squash and zucchini, so I decided to make a squash enchilada casserole. I cut up the squash and I sliced it thin, and then laid it out in layers as if they were lasagna.

We also had some ground turkey that needed to be used up, so I cooked it with a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of paprika, onion, peppers, and about a cup of corn. I added some minced garlic and dried black beans, mixed it all together with some enchilada sauce and cheese and layered it all together. It smelled fantastic.

I then layered it on top of our squash. I just added the rest of the squash on top for another layer and then added about a cup and a half of cheese. Finally, I let it all bake until the squash was done. It turned out delicious.


I make pancakes and berries and whipped topping at home, which is way cheaper than eating out, and you get way more berries. My new favorite is using the Country Crock plant cream, which costs much less than regular heavy cream, and I turn it into whipped topping.

Here is the recipe: one cup of the plant cream, a teaspoon or two of vanilla, a quarter of a cup of powdered sugar, then just whip it and turn it into whipped topping. I store it in my refrigerator for 2-3 days.

My final tip is not to use your dryer, because it heats up your home. In the summer, save both your money and your house by drying outside or on a drying rack.

Kitchen hacks

I hope that my kitchen tips will be useful to you. Do you have any others in mind? Share your wisdom in the comments and have a great day.

Join the conversation
  • Julie Julie on Oct 22, 2023
    I love your tips. I am a widow and need to stretch my budget. Thank you!
  • Darlene Darlene on Dec 01, 2023
    Thanks for the great memories of my Mimi’s cooking. Don’t you know I’m having Hamburg gravy and mashed potatoes for dinner tonight. And that dried out bread is going to be bread pudding with golden raisins. I look forward to more columns from you.