12 Must-have Tools for a Frugal Kitchen

We are always talking about expensive appliances and utensils that simplify our cooking, but there are very simple items that are even more important if you want a functioning and frugal kitchen. These will make your life infinitely easier.

Here are twelve kitchen essentials that I recommend everyone has in their home.

Rubber bands

1. Labels

So simple, but so crucial. You have to label and date your food, because it is so easy to forget what the contents of an old container is.

It is especially important to label your meats when you freeze them. And of course, it is essential to date your products, so you can keep track of their freezer time limits and use them up in time.

2 - 4. Tape, binder clips and rubber bands

I use them to reclose foods to make sure that they are lasting until I'm finished with the food. Each of those is best for certain foods.

For example, I tend to use binder clips for reclosing my potato chip bags because they do not pop off or crush the chips, but for frozen meats I usually choose rubber bands to make the bags take up as little space as possible in my freezer.

I often save the rubber bands from my produce, but I also got a big bag of rubber bands from Amazon a few years ago which has an assortment of sizes and colors, and I have been reusing those ever since.

Tape is also great, especially for bags of cereal, taco shells and cookie packages. If you have one of these basic tape dispensers and run out of tape, do not have to throw the whole thing away - just pop the old roll off and put on a new roll.

5. Chalkboard or a dry erase board

I use the chalkboard to keep up with my grocery list. As I run out of items, I just go and write the things on the chalkboard. This is such a big help in making sure that I get what I need when I go.

I do not have to keep making unexpected runs back and forth to the store because I forgot something anymore. I also jot down meal ideas, recipe notes, and just a variety of things that help me in my planning and shopping process.

6. Microwavable storage bowls

If you have a plastic set and a glass set, this is going to make a huge difference when it comes to meal preparation, storing leftovers, and packing and carrying lunch from home. I have a stackable set with a few sizes from Walmart.

This allows me to store my leftovers no matter how much is remaining. I can heat them up right in the container, and they can go from the fridge right into a lunch bag.

I also use sectioned containers to freeze my meals for the week and then just take them with me for lunch. I also like to have a set of glass bowls for basic food storage because they are better for heating certain foods like red sauces.


7. Push pins and a cork board / magnets for the refrigerator

I use them both to keep coupons or receipts in plain view so I remember to factor them in when planning my shopping trips.

I also use them to hold any notes I might need to take with me to the store. If you do not have a cork board, take about five pieces of corrugated cardboard from any shipping or shoe box and glue them together. You can leave it plain or cover it with contact paper.

8. Notepad

Use a notepad to quickly jot down meal plans, finalize your grocery list, write down some new recipe you just created. You can just pin those notes to your cork board or put them on the refrigerator with a magnet. You could buy one or just make one by securing some leaf paper pieces with a binder clip and putting it on a strong magnet on the back.

9. Zip top bags

Fresh meat and chicken are always cheaper if bought in larger quantities, and that is what I always have zip top bags on hand for. I bring those bigger pieces home, cut them down to portion sizes, and store them in the freezer in freezer grade bags, making sure there is space in between the pieces so I can thaw them out separately.

Freezer grade bags are thicker than regular sandwich zip top bags and can help prevent freezer burn and frost on the food. These are better than foil because I can easily see what's inside and I can defrost meat in the microwave without having to take the meat out.

Broccoli in freezer bag

These are also great for storing fresh cut veggies in the fridge or the freezer. When you are ready to cook them, just add a little water to the bag, leave a small opening at the top and microwave the veggies right in the bag.

10. Gallon sized pitcher

Homemade drinks are so much cheaper, healthier and more delicious than bottled ones. To make a gallon of iced tea, use 8-12 tea bags and 2 cups of sugar. You can make a whole gallon of iced tea for about 70 cents instead of spending $4 on a half gallon bottle of juice, but you could not do that without a pitcher.

11. Brita filter

Instead of wasting money on bottled water, get a water filter pitcher. You only have to change the filter every six months, and the newer model of this has an indicator light so that you know when you have to change it. The whole thing costs about $45 including the filter, and filter replacements are about $20 each.

12. Insulated lunch bag

I work from home most days but I pack my husband's lunch every single day, and mine once a week when I go into the office. This allows us to take leftovers, sandwiches, drinks and snacks from home for lunch instead of spending money on fast food. These come in handy for my kids’ field trips as well.

Frugal kitchen

These twelve things help me run my kitchen smoothly and frugally. What does your kitchen essentials list consist of? Do you have any other frugal kitchen tips to offer? Let me know in the comments!

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