The Determined Dollar
money saving kitchen essentials

Top 5 Money Saving Kitchen Essentials

Have you ever looked around your kitchen and thought about which gadgets are simply nice to have, and which ones are saving you money? I recently took stock of this and came up with a list of my top 5 kitchen money-savers.

Before buying anything for the house, I ask myself, “How useful will this be in my everyday life? Will I get a return on this investment financially? And, will I enjoy having this in my home?”

While not every single thing has to check off every box (not everything has to be utilitarian!), I try to be conscientious about how much stuff I accumulate and think about whether it “deserves” a spot on a shelf. I’ve definitely got a drawer full of random stuff to clean out, but this list is all about my favorites that check all three marks!

From food prep, to storage, to clean up, here are my top five kitchen money saving kitchen essentials that I can’t live without because they save me lots of cash while making life easier. 

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1. Produce Saving Containers

I wasn’t sure if these would make a noticable difference in preserving the life of quickly perishing fruits and veggies, but I figured, for around $9 a container it’s worth a try! And was I ever so pleased with the result! The ones I got are the Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Containers

All you do is put your fruit or vegetables in the bin before washing. Wash right before you eat it; this will preserve them much longer. I also like that the bins are clear and I can see exactly what’s in it. They’re super easy to rinse clean and they paid for themselves in only a few weeks of use. 

2. Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Cleaning with chemicals is a tricky thing. Sure you want to get your kitchen countertops actually clean and free of harmful bacteria, but is residue from poisonous chemicals much better? And not to mention how fast paper towels get used. This expense adds up to potentially a couple of hundred dollars a year.

Then I discovered Norwex microfiber cloths, which allows you to effectively clean your kitchen (and the rest of your house for that matter) with only water.

Yep! I thought it was too good to be true until I read Dr. Annie’s experiment on microfiber cloths. Norwex is a great brand and definitely pays for itself over time, but if you’re looking for a more cost effective option, E-Cloths also seem to work just as well and you can get them on Amazon. 

3. Refrigerator Organizers

I have a confession to make: my fridge very quickly becomes a graveyard for leftovers. Either I push the leftovers to the back of the fridge, or I simply forget and the leftover food is wasted. I get so frustrated with myself when this happens because I’m on an ongoing mission to reduce food waste in our home (it’s a constant work in progress).

Let me tell you, fridge bins like these have been a complete game changer. We’ve now got one bin labeled “leftovers” and that’s where all the leftovers go, not to rot, but to be used before the container is filled.

Now that I have one central location in which to keep leftovers, I can see exactly what we need to use up so that hardly anything is wasted. The other bins have been helpful for separating lunch foods and storing bottles and containers so that we don’t end up with three bottles of ketchup or knock over the syrup while searching for a jar of olives… you get the picture. These are awesome.

4. The Instant Pot

Are you even surprised to see this one made the list?  I can’t even begin to estimate how many times this baby has saved us from going out to eat on a whim. It makes cooking SO easy and fast. Let’s just say that in addition to making amazing food, it’s paid for itself several times over in the two years I’ve owned one.

I love making soup, chili, risotto, carnitas… anything you can make in a slow cooker you can make in the Instant Pot. In fact, there’s a slow cooker feature and it works great, but you can also use the pressure cooker setting to make your favorite slow cooker meals a million times faster.

Here’s my go-to meal: I keep a supply of frozen chicken thighs for those nights when I just don’t have it in me to do real cooking, along with frozen veggies, rice, and a bottle of teriyaki sauce. All I do is throw in the frozen chicken, pour in the sauce, and push the on button. By the time the rice is done, the chicken is ready and we have delicious teriyaki chicken bowls on the table. It seriously tastes like it’s been marinating all day (the beauty of pressure cooking). I also like how easy the stainless steel pot is to clean.

5. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This is an old-school cooking staple in my book. I enjoy cooking and I love how elegant an enameled cast iron dutch oven looks when you serve a roast or a stew that’s been braising all afternoon (sort of the antithesis to the Instant Pot; I like options). When you’ve got a classic recipe like beef bourguinon, this is the cooking pot of choice. But cast iron also makes great breads, and browns meat beautifully; the uses are vast, which means you needs less stuff in your kitchen, which means you don’t need to spend as much money!

Before I learned the ways of frugality, I thought I had to have the Le Creuset brand, and I admit I do love it! It’s heirloom quality, you’ll never have to buy another one, and you can pass it down through generations, which is special if cooking is part of your family heritage. So for me, even though the price is premium, I enjoy my Le Creuset and the fact that it will last a lifetime makes it totally worth the upfront cost.

However, there are excellent options that cost a fraction  of a Le Creuset, like this Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. If I were in the market for one today, that’s what I’d buy.

Overall, this is a must-have in my kitchen because it’s so versatile, makes great food, and will last forever, which saves money!

So there you have it, my top five kitchen essentials that save money! Not to mention, they also make my life a little easier and cooking more enjoyable. What are your favorite kitchen money-savers? Comment below!

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money saving kitchen essentials