12 ways to save money in the kitchen (that are also good for the planet)

My friends and family sometimes complain that it's "too expensive" to be more sustainable at home, and it's cheaper to opt for a disposable lifestyle that is the norm for so many households around the world.

But does sustainability really have to be expensive? To prove that you can live responsibly AND save some money, here are 12 awesome ideas for creating a planet-strong kitchen on a budget.

1. Grow your own herbs
This has got to be one of the easiest ways to save money at home. Instead of shelling out a quarter of your pay packet for fresh produce, try supplementing your shopping with some home grown eats. For a few dollars (or less if you use cuttings!) you can start your own herb garden on a windowsill or balcony.

Learn how to start your herb collection with this super simple DIY

2. Look for seasonal produce
Buying in season is generally less expensive than buying out of season. It also means that you're more likely to be supporting local and regional growers, which also means reducing your food miles.

Check out these seasonal produce guides to get you shopping more efficiently (or just ask your local greengrocer)

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3. Shop local
As above, buying local has the benefits of supporting local industries and reducing food miles (learn about what these are here ). Buying local can also help connect you to your local community by getting to know the growers in your area. You can also have to opportunity to enquire about how the produce was grown and even get some recipe tips!

4. Can't eat it? Preserve it!
What do you do when you've bought too much food? This is such a common question among the 1 Million Women community that we've dedicated an entire blog post to answering this question! Read it here

You can freeze, pickle and ferment your favourite produce to enjoy it later on, meaning that less food ends up in the bin. Learn more about how to reduce food waste by checking out these awesome resources.

5. Keep a weekly menu and make a shopping list
My mum's been doing this since we were kids, and not just because it made the insanity of weeknights a little easier to bear for my stressed-out parents. Keeping a menu means that you can plan ahead for the ingredients that you'll need, budget for them and make an accurate shopping list (which will avoid the embarrassment of finding out when you get home that you already have 19 cans of chickpeas in the cupboard).

A weekly plan for what you're going to be eating is also a brilliant way to keep track of your nutrition and even improve your overall health. For example, if you know that one family member is lacking in iron, pump your weekly menu with beans, tabouli and spinach to make sure they're getting their much-needed energy boost.

Check out some of our great recipe ideas here!

6. Stick to your budget
While it's tempting to splash out on fancy potatoes and exotic spice mixes from the gourmet deli, sometimes it's necessary to cap your spending on food.

Think it's impossible to shop on a budget and still have fresh and flavoursome food? When Josh Greenfield set out to cook and eat three meals a day, all for US$1 each, everyone thought that he would be living off fast food and 2 minute noodles, but he certainly proved them wrong! Read how he did it here.

7. Be a savvy shopper

Maybe it's the kind of behaviour you normally associate with your 85-year-old grandmother (love you, Nonna!), but coupon collecting and other saving strategies can really make your budget stretch further. Enquire at your favourite shops when sales are happening, how to keep informed about specials, and whether there are any loyalty programs for regular shoppers. Also get to know the routine of your local shop: maybe there's an "ugly vegetable" section where stock is discounted.

1 Million Women is empowering women and girls around the world to lower their impact on the planet. If you love what we do, please support our work by donating a couple of dollars. For the price of a cuppa, you can help us inspire millions more! (click to donate)

8. Use up your scraps
Did you know that there are over 10 perfectly good food scraps you're probably throwing away? Turn those potato peels into chips, those carrot tops into dip and those celery cuttings into stock! Waste not, want not.

9. Do it yourself!
I live and breathe DIY, but did you know that you can also save a tonne of money by making many kitchen staples yourself? From pesto to pasta sauce, it's hard to imagine why anyone would by these things pre-packaged once you get into the habit of making it at home. It's generally cheaper, healthier (because you're controlling what goes into it) and also very rewarding.

10. Make a big batch
This isn't just a great tip for saving money, but also time. As the only non-meat eater in the house, I generally make enough of whatever I'm cooking for a few people so that I can freeze the leftovers for a fast and healthy meal when I'm rushing off to work or coming home late at night.

11. Join a food co-op
Depending on where you live, this may or may not be an option for you. If you're lucky enough to have a food co-op near you (a quick Google search will be able to locate the nearest one), check out how their prices compare to the supermarket. Generally prices will be lower for members, plus most co-ops encourage shoppers to reduce their rubbish production by putting produce in reusable bags and containers. Many co-ops also specialise in organic and local produce!

12. Buy in bulk
Grains, beans, baking supplies and many other products are generally less expensive when you buy in bulk, and often don't include copious amounts of packaging. Team up with friends, family and neighbours if you need to.

What's you're top tip for cutting down on waste and costs in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Shutterstock

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