14 Simple Kitchen Hacks That Save Food and Money

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Unrecognizable woman holding in her hands opened avocado, close up

Waste Less, Save More

While eating at home is generally less expensive than eating out, there are always ways to save even more when preparing meals in your own kitchen. Some of these money-saving hacks involve a little extra time, but the upshot is extra taste and extra cash in your wallet.

Related: Easy-to-Make Foods to Stop Buying at the Store

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Shred and Slice Your Own Cheese

Cheese is expensive, and the price only goes higher when it's sliced and shredded for you. Instead of paying more for the extra processing, do the work yourself. Buy a large block of cheese, shred what you need, and slice the rest. Freeze any you don't plan to use right away and you'll have sliced and shredded cheese at your fingertips for less money (and packaging) than buying it pre-cut.

Related: Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Mac and Cheese

Homemade salad dressing

Make Simple Salad Dressing

Salad dressing can also get pricey, especially if everyone in the family likes different kinds. But it's one of the easiest things to make yourself, and you probably have everything you need on hand. Combine olive oil and vinegar (white, red, balsamic, take your pick) for a base, then add spices to taste. To remove the guesswork, a clever bottle meant for salad dressings ($9 on Amazon) has recipes printed on the side.

Related: DIY Condiments and Sauces to Liven Up Multiple Meals

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Buy Lettuce Whole

The price markup for pre-washed and pre-cut lettuce is substantial. Instead, buy a head of lettuce or a couple of romaine hearts and wash and cut them yourself. If you want to have cut lettuce on hand in the fridge, store the cut pieces in a container with a dry paper towel. The towel will absorb moisture and keep the lettuce fresh longer. Change the paper towel every few days as needed.

Related: Quick and Easy Cold Salads for People Who Hate Lettuce

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Break Up Bananas

Keep bananas fresh longer by wrapping the stem ends in plastic wrap. This works even better if bananas are separate from the bunch first, and then the ends are wrapped. Still have too many to use before they go bad? Try one of these tasty banana recipes or freeze them.

Plastic Wrap
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Chill Plastic Wrap (Seriously)

Ever wrestled with a container of plastic wrap? To prevent waste, store the box in the refrigerator. Cold plastic wrap is easier to separate and tear.

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Citrus Fruits

Roll Those Lemons

Get more juice out of citrus fruit by rolling it on a hard surface before cutting it open. If you need fresh lemon juice for salad dressing or a delicious lemonade, roll the lemon firmly on a cutting board or counter before cutting for almost twice the juice. 

Cooking Spray

Skip the Cooking Spray

Cooking spray is largely a waste of money and may contain ingredients you don't want in your food anyway. Eliminate the cost by skipping it altogether. You can use olive oil, butter, or coconut oil in its place depending on the dish. Coconut oil works especially well for baked goods to keep them from sticking. 

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Keep Cookies Crisp With Bread

Keep homemade cookies fresh by laying a piece of bread on the top of them in a storage container. Change the bread every few days. This is especially useful during the holiday season to stretch out an abundance of Christmas cookies for a week or two. 


Take Eggs Swimming

Don't throw out eggs just because you aren't sure if they are still fresh. Test them first by placing them in a bowl of cold water. Toss only the ones that float — that means they're no longer fresh. Keep the sinkers, which are still good to eat

Store Brown Sugar

Store Brown Sugar With a Marshmallow

Ever tried to make a recipe with brown sugar only to discover it's hard as a rock in the cupboard? Next time put a few marshmallows in the brown sugar to keep it soft when storing.

Freeze Herbs

Freeze Fresh Herbs

Most recipes call for no more than a few tablespoons of fresh herbs, which are sold in such big bunches that often the unused portions go to waste. Instead of tossing them, cut them all up and freeze what you don't use in ice cube trays with water. The cubes can be tossed into soups and stews, or mixed with butter for sautéing vegetables and meats. 

Ice Cream

Preserve Ice Cream With Wax Paper

Ice cream can lose its appeal (and flavor) if it's not stored in an airtight container to prevent oxygen from seeping in. To keep ice cream at its freshest, place wax paper directly on the surface before replacing the lid to help seal in moisture. 

Preserve Guacamole

Keep Guacamole Green

Homemade guacamole can go brown fast. Prevent discoloration by retaining the avocado seed and placing it in the guacamole until it's ready to eat. This trick won't keep it fresh forever, but it will give you hours longer. Store unused avocado with a slice of onion to help keep it fresh.

Love Your Leftovers

Don't Dry Out Leftovers

Warming up leftovers in the microwave can leave them dried out and inedible, so before nuking a meal, add some moisture. Sandwiches or other foods with bread will turn out better if they're wrapped with a damp paper towel before they're reheated. For pasta or meat, place a glass of water in the microwave with the dish to help keep it moist.

Related: Here's How Long 53 Leftovers Will Last in the Fridge