Cheapskate in the Kitchen

"Waste not, want not." Those simple words had so much meaning generations ago, when a coffee can became a well-used canister and worn-out garments became warm quilts.  As a society, we seem to have forgotten the value of reusing things. (There is a difference between thrift and pack-ratting. We can all think of someone who has stuff stacked up to the ceiling because he or she cannot bear the idea of throwing it out. The test is easy: Is this thing useful? If it is, put it to use. If it is not, give it away, put it in the recycling bin or, if all else fails, the trash. ) 

When you buy in bulk and cook more from scratch, you reduce the amount of packaged stuff you bring into the house.  Less packaging saves you money. If you can reuse something, you can avoid buying something else. Buying used things can save money, too.

We are cheapskates and are proud of it. I would like to show off a few ideas from the Stealthy Kitchen:

Ovaltine jars are a perfect fit for the door of our fridge freezer. They are also a perfect fit for small bags of flours, grains, flaxseed meal, xanthan gum and other ingredients that should be kept frozen. Scissors and packing tape give it a custom look, in a Red Green sort of way. (Since we bake our own bread, we buy yeast in 2-pound bags. The largest jar available at our local store is 4oz and costs over $4, while we can get a 2-pound bag for just twice that. A 2-pound bag of yeast will fill an Ovaltine jar plus one of the 4oz jars from the store.)

Overripe bananas get peeled and stored in the freezer to use for smoothies. When we bake chicken, we pop the bones into the freezer to future stock. Since the ziplocks are labelled and kept in the freezer, we reuse them again and again until they fall apart. We reuse the ziplocks for bread and cookies, too.

Peanut butter jars are perfect canisters for brown sugar; Ovaltine jars hold a pound of popping corn. Either will serve well for canisters for bulk cocoa, carob powder, nuts,  raisins, lentils...

The collection beside the kitchen sink represents a lot of saved money. Our favorite coffee mugs came "free" with jam. (Or did the jam come free, packed in the mugs?) "Disposable" plastic sippy cups and plastic silverware can be used again and again. Stealthy Dad's melamine dishes from when he was little are treasured by our boys. Molasses bottles can be washed and reused to store homemade chocolate sauce. We have a complete set of vintage dishes collected from sellers on eBay. Washable water bottles are a convenient way to avoid buying bottled water. Both Stealthy Dad and I were given plastic water mugs as souvenirs during hospital stays and they make great silverware drying cups. Our favorite brand of plant-based liquid dish and hand soaps has refills available for the pumps. 

I will skip showing you our compost scraps. We reserve a crisper drawer of the fridge to collect those for dumping in the big bin outside.

What are your best money-savers in the kitchen?

I shared this post with Frugal Fridays  and the Living Well Blog Hop.


  1. But I want to see your compost scraps... ;-)

    1. I might save the compost for its own post. Sometimes it gets larger than life.

  2. What's the old saying? "Never keep anything unless you know it to be beautiful or useful"? Something like that! You sure have useful down pat. (I, personally, think anything stored in a glass jar is 'beautiful.')

  3. Great tips -- thanks! But how did you get the Ovaltine jars to stop smelling like Ovaltine? I have tried washing them thoroughly but they still retain a certain malty aroma that doesn't go well with lentils. ;)

    1. That's so funny! I have had a couple of Ovaltine jars whose contents did not overpower the slight, lingering scent of malt. Lentils and a couple of different flours. The good news is that the scent never tainted the flavour of the contents, and over time did go away.


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