In September my family moved from a 1000 square foot duplex with a tiny, tiny kitchen to an almost 1800 square foot house with a huge (to me, at least) kitchen, complete with an island, pantry, and freezer that I bought on Craigslist. You’d think that it would be easier to practice kitchen frugality in a larger kitchen, right?
Well, in some ways yes. But in other ways no. The one thing I have learned through the process of moving kitchens is that organization is essential to saving money in the kitchen.
Our old kitchen was tiny. We had a small refrigerator/freezer combo, a cabinet under the sink, one for pots and pans, two cabinets for food, two for plates and glasses, the cabinets above the refrigerator and stove, and five drawers. Our washer and dryer were also located in the kitchen, and we had no wall space for a moveable island or anything of that nature. Our counter space was also limited. We had a small counter next to the fridge, just big enough for the coffee pot, a counter on one side of the stove, just big enough for my Kitchenaid Mixer, and one slightly larger counter, where the microwave resided.
In order to save money in the kitchen, I had to do a couple of things.
I try to stock up on food when it’s on sale, but it’s hard to stock up, when you don’t have space. So to add more storage space, I added shelves to our coat closet and turned it into a small pantry.
I love to bake my own bread. I used to do it in a bread machine, but it took up way too much space in our kitchen. So when I got my Kitchenaid mixer, the bread machine was given away on Freecycle. The Kitchenaid had the ability to knead the dough (the worst part of making bread), along with many other uses. When you have a small kitchen, look for small appliances that do more than one job.
When we moved, I breathed a sigh of relief. No more trying to cook on one small counter. Now I have one long counter, an island, and three medium sized counters that are each about the same size as the one cooking counter I had at our old place. Not to mention I have a dishwasher to store dirty dishes out of sight! So I should have been on top of things, right? Well, I had a couple of things to learn.
At our old place, I just needed to open the cupboard or the coat closet, and I could see what food I had. Now, I need a system for keeping track of the great food I find on sale. The pantry and stand alone freezer are too big to just glance and go. Inventory and food rotation are important now. I’m working on developing a system that works, but it’s still in progress.
Jugs full of water take up space to save energy in the freezer, but to fully utilize the freezer, I need to keep it full of food. That means planning my cooking, so I can keep plenty of defrost, heat, and eat casseroles ready for busy nights.
In the end, whether you have a big kitchen or a small kitchen, there are organizational problems you have to overcome to be able practice frugality to the fullest.
What are your biggest challenges when it comes to saving money in the kitchen? Do you have anything you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on?
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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