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In a year unlike any other, we need our money to stretch more than ever. The easiest place to start is your kitchen, and it’s where you’ll see the fruits of your labor the fastest, too. It starts with making small, sustainable changes — no longer relying on paper towels or seltzer, for example — and instead, opting for tools that can either replicate the same product at home, or is multi-use, so we aren’t constantly repurchasing it.
I’m always on the hunt for tips and tricks to help us save a few bucks, and I’m sharing the ways that worked best for me to save big in my kitchen. With a few small changes and several small investments, you’ll save big in the long run — and get to enjoy your favorite food in new ways (and for longer, too!) Read on for my tips and tricks for saving a little money in every home’s most important room.
No more bad apples
I’m a skeptic, so I was on the fence about picking this up, but I was tired of fruits spoiling before I had time to eat them. Then, my inner nerd kicked in and after I understood the science, I pushed Add to Cart — and I’ve already saved so much on groceries.
BluApple keeps your produce fresher longer by absorbing ethylene gas from your fruits and vegetables. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone and found in a lot of your weekly staples like apples, bananas, cantaloupes, grapes, tomatoes and potatoes — and this hormone floats around your crisper drawers and triggers cells to degrade to the tune of about $600 of spoiled produce per year for the average American family.
You know that saying, “one bad apple spoils the bunch,” that’s ethylene! Fill these little blue plastic apples with the activated carbon packet every three months and it absorbs the gas that signals this ripening, so your groceries stay fresher longer, while reducing odors from your fridge. You can even use this in your fruit bowl. In fact, it works so well that reviewers are saying they need to move them away from fruit to have it ripen! Such a genius buy.
Full steam ahead
I’m a self-proclaimed coffee guru. With the four to five cups I throw back daily, it’s not only a necessity but a taste bud vice. While I should probably just drink straight from the carafe given my daily volume needs, I still want each cup to feel special and my obsession with beautiful frothed milk has led me to packing my Aerolatte in my purse when I go to other people’s homes. I get coffeeshop-worthy concoctions without the hefty markups.
I love that this tiny little wand whisks up milk, warm or even cold, into gorgeous little foamy mountain peaks in just a few seconds. That frothy layer insulates my coffee, too, keeping it warmer longer, best $20 I have ever spent and it’s a gift I’ve given my most favorite people — mostly so I won’t have to bring it to their house!
Throw in the towel on paper towels
There’s a serious pang of guilt every time I wipe a mini sticky hand with a fresh, clean paper towel and within 6.5 seconds it’s in the trash bin. I think the Brawny Man had preconditioned me to believe that every mess needs a new towel and I’m ready to break this terrible addiction.
That said, I’m really happy to have made the switch to bamboo paper towels. They come in a roll that feels familiar and fits in your paper towel holder, so psychologically it’s been seamless to make the initial swap.
Bamboo is sustainable and grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers and these sheets are super durable and lint free. Twenty cloths come in a roll where each sheet is perforated giving you the feel of a paper towel, but just one of these replaces 60 conventional paper towel rolls! You can use them over and over again, up to 120 times before you need to discard according to the manufacturer - which may be a bit of a stretch, but even if you reuse them 20 times the environment is still in the green. Just pop them in the washing machine and air dry for longer life.
I stash one towel in each bathroom for easy sink cleanups and a few in my broom closet for cleaning floors and baseboards. I’m still on my first roll, and when I’m down to my last sheet I think I’ll stack washed cloths in a pretty, DIY or eco-friendly tissue dispenser to keep saving money, and do my small part for the health of this green earth.
Off to a fresher start
Nothing is more frustrating than soft foods drying out and crispy foods going stale. My husband is a fan of brown sugar in his coffee and each morning it became a nuisance trying to chisel a piece off with a butter knife, and I pretty much gave up on enjoying a sprinkle on top of my oatmeal, too. But then I remembered the terracotta bear that sported every grandma’s brown sugar container and knew there must be something to their savvy.
All you do is soak this terracotta chip in water for 15 minutes, pat dry, then just place it in your brown sugar container — it will keep sugar soft and moist for three to six months. The same goes for cookies, cakes, bread, marshmallows, fresh herbs, even dried fruit! You can also stash it with crackers, pretzels and chips to keep them crunchy and crispy, too.
If you’re a fan of sparkling water, you know it can be an expensive and plastic-heavy habit. I crunched some numbers at home and it finally made sense to check out SodaStream. The One Touch is super easy to use, you just insert your bottle and push your desired carbonation level. Each CO2 cartridge makes 60 liters of seltzer and refills of the cylinder are $15, so after setup costs you’ll quickly begin saving a bundle.
There are syrups and flavors to add some sparkle to your water game, and if you are open to geeking out on the internet, there are ways to use the SodaStream to re-carbonate flat soda and beer — and recipes for sparkling wine, cocktails, coffee and more.
Sweeten the pot
Quarantine has us craving comfort food, but less time than ever to sit by the stove all day (anyone else tackling homeschooling?). Folks have been raving about the Instant Pot for months and the multitude of ways you can use it to stretch your food dollars while hitting-the-spot taste-wise.
This multi-cooker can steam, slow cook, ferment and even pasteurize! The best part is that it’s a pressure cooker that cooks up to 70 percent faster and has 48 different settings for soups, beans, rice and ribs so even if you’re a cooking novice you can pull off a chef-worthy dinner for pennies on the dollar.
People have gotten so creative with this cooker — you can even bake with it, folks! Crazy, right? You can pull off tasty cheesecakes, make your own flavored Greek yogurt, pop popcorn, infuse spiced wine and water and so much more. I’m definitely game for any cooking hacks that save me money, don’t involve dirtying up my stovetop and that I can pull off during a 13-minute break from doing the Elmo Slide with the kids!
Video produced by Kat Vasquez
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