5 Kitchen Tips to Save Money and Make Life Easier
Thrifty Kitchen Secrets Which are Simple to Follow
Sometimes a solution to a problem is staring you in the teeth, but you just don't see it. Other times a solution comes to you in a Eureka moment. A little bit of lateral thinking is always useful, whether you are in the kitchen, the office or the garden shed.
During my eventful life, among other things I've been a housewife, stay-at-home mother, restaurateur, mature student, and juggled home and work life as a professional adviser until, more recently, I have become a retired pensioner with time to think and put my thoughts into articles which I hope will help other people.
Lots of people have clever ideas for making their life a little easier, or saving a bit of money, but they don't necessarily spread the good news around.
With my age and experience, I have plenty to say, and I'm planning a series of pages with handy hints. Here are 5 money-saving kitchen tips:
1. Using Vinegar for Household Chores - Uses for Pickle Vinegar:
If you have food which was pickled in vinegar, don’t waste the vinegar once the pickles are eaten – you can re-use it.
- Vinegar can be used successfully to dissolve hardened calcium deposits in your kettle. Just soak your kettle overnight in your left-over vinegar, and then wash it out gently with a washing up brush in the morning to remove all those irritating floating bits of calcium. The kettle will come out clean as a whistle (even if it isn’t a whistling kettle!). If you then boil some water in the kettle, this will get rid of any lingering smell straight away.
- You can also use vinegar round your taps and basin to dissolve limescale.
Cleaning Your Kettle With Used Vinegar
2. Using Vinegar in the kitchen:
You can re-use the vinegar from shop-bought pickles to pickle your own onions, beetroot, or other produce.
Ingredients for Salad Dressing
I sometimes use the left-over pickle vinegar to make a salad dressing as follows:
– add to your used vinegar all or any of the following, according to taste:
- some olive oil
- a little crushed garlic
- herbs such as marjoram or coriander
- half a teaspoon of mustard
- half a teaspoon of sugar
- a few chilli flakes
- a little soy sauce
– it makes a delicious dressing
Chop and Freeze Your Herbs
3. Fresh herbs - How to Use Every Last Herb Leaf Before It Goes Off:
Set aside the amount of fresh herbs you can reasonably use in two or three days, and then chop up the rest, put them in a small plastic bag, flatten out the bag as much as possible, tie the top and freeze flat.
Freezing the leaves as flat as possible will ensure that, once frozen, the pieces will be fairly separate, and thus easy to use without having to melt down a big chunk of more than you require.
Alternatively, put the chopped leaves in an ice cube tray, add a little water, and freeze. You will then have frozen herb ice cubes, which you can bag up, and use for cooking as required.
Plastic Lids as Spoon Rests
4. Small Plastic Lids:
Keep one or two clean plastic lids from things like yogurt or soup containers on your kitchen counter to rest spoons when cooking.
Or you can dump teabags on them – it saves dirtying your work surface.
5. Use a Dictionary When You Go Shopping:
Yes, I mean it, a foreign language dictionary - I'm not kidding!
It took me fifty-five years in the kitchen to think of this tip, as the idea came to me only recently after someone gave me some food labelled in Polish.
If you live in an ethnically diverse area (like London, where I live), there is a great deal of imported food with labels in a language other than English which you may not understand.
Much of the food imported from Poland, for instance, is cheaper than the English equivalent – butter is about half the price – and there are also things which look as though they might be tasty, but you’re not sure what those bottles of red stuff contain by way of ingredients.
Study the Label of This Polish Soup Packet
Sometimes it pays just to study the photographs on the labels, or see if you can make out a couple of words in the list of ingredients which are similar to English or another language that you are more familiar with.
For instance, take a look at the photograph of a Polish soup packet above - a shrewd guess told me that the word "Frankusca" means French, as it sounds similar in several European languages. "Zupa" sounds a lot like Soup, And "Cebulowa" sounds like the Spanish word for onion, "cebolla", added to which the picture shows a bowl of soup and some onions. You don't have to be a genius to assume that you are looking at a Polish packet of Knorr French Onion Soup, which you will see I have labelled accordingly in my handwriting.
But I have recently done something so obvious that I should have thought of it years ago - going shopping with a small pocket dictionary in the language of the majority of food imports in a particular shop. Doing this with a Polish dictionary, I managed to translate the labels of every herb, sauce mix and pudding you could think of and, at home, with a marker, I wrote the English equivalent on each packet and bottle. I was so proud of myself.
A Word About Dictionaries and Translations:
I confess that, being interested in language generally, I have dictionaries and language courses in a lot more languages than most people would, but, hey, you can usually pick up a cheap dictionary at a car boot sale or charity shop or an on-line auction – that’s how I acquired all mine.
Or you could search online to find a list of translations for most common foods in any given language (what is known as a Cheat Sheet), and print it off to take on your shopping jaunts. It will save you money and allow you to try out new things without worrying that they contain ingredients which disgust you. In my case, sauerkraut, processed pork, and hazelnuts are foods which I would give a miss to, whilst anything containing anchovies, chili and red peppers would be worth a try.