When you’re starting the frugal lifestyle, the cost of ingredients can sometimes seem overwhelming. Learn how spices save money, making spices and condiments a worthwhile investment for your pantry.
How Condiments and Spices Can Save Money
If you’ve spent a little time in the condiments and spices aisle of your local grocery store lately you may have come to the conclusion that cooking at home is expensive! And it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing. Those tiny jars of spices and seasoning blends can cost upwards of $4 apiece, and it can really add up. But did you know that condiments and spices can actually save you money? (Not to mention that you can make most of them yourself for less anyway?) Keep reading, and I’ll show you how.
Keep It Tasty
My oldest son likes to ask me if I’m “making it tasty” when I add spices or extras into a meal that I’m making for him. With a nice selection of spices and condiments on hand, even your most basic ingredients can turn into very tasty dishes.
For example, a piece of toast can go sweet and crunchy with homemade honey butter, cinnamon and sugar, or you can enjoy a savory slice topped with butter and garlic salt. Chicken breasts can be brushed with ranch dressing and baked, brushed with barbecue sauce and grilled, or sauteed with veggies and served over fried rice with soy sauce. Ground beef can be turned into taco filling (using Taco Seasoning), Italian meatballs, burgers, sloppy joes (using Sloppy Joe Seasoning) or a meaty marinara. With the right seasonings and condiments in your cupboards, you can transform any dish. The possibilities really are endless.
We all know that one of the easiest ways to save money is to eat at home instead of going out. But the truth is, when your food is bland and monotonous it can be hard to work up the willpower to do just that. With a little cooking know-how, though, and a shelf full of flavors to choose from, you can create fabulous home-cooked meals for pennies on the restaurant dollar. You’ll find it easier to stick to your budget and you might even prefer your home-cooked meals to eating out!
–Use a Meal Planning Binder to plan your meals so you’re not tempted to eat out.
Another big benefit to herbs and spices are also a power-packed source of nutrition and antioxidants. Even though they seem pricey at first, ounce for ounce they are an inexpensive way to make your food more nutritious. Also, since your food tastes better you’ll enjoy cooking healthy homemade meals more often and avoiding the additives and hidden calories in restaurant foods.
You can even grow your own herbs at home by creating a simple herb garden (it could be as easy as growing herbs in flower pots in your window sill) and using the fresh herbs in meals or drying or freezing them to use later.
Love Your Leftovers
If you don’t love leftovers (or even if you do) try giving them a new twist with your growing stash of spices and condiments. Grilled chicken can turn into a yummy stir fry, barbeque sandwich, chicken salad, or fajitas. Leftover spaghetti sauce can be the base for a delicious homemade soup. You can turn stale bread into Italian croutons or pumpkin spice french toast.
–Here are some great tips on How to Use Leftovers.
Ways to Save Money on Spices
Now that you know how spices and condiments can save you money, let’s talk about a few ways to save money when you purchase them. Here are a few ways to stock up on them frugally.
Grow your own herbs – Growing your own herbs can be an easy way to save money on the cost of spices. Use the fresh herbs to flavor your food or Dry and Preserve them.
–Learn How to Grow an Herb Garden.
Shop Ethnic Sections and Stores – Oftentimes you can find spices cheaper than name brand in the International aisle or specialty shops.
Buy in Bulk – Pick up your most-used spices in bulk. If you need just a little of an expensive spice, you can buy just the amount you need in a bulk food store by the pound. You may end up paying a little more per ounce but save in the long run by not letting a lot of spices go to waste.
–Want to learn more about buying in bulk? Check out this Beginners Guide to Azure Standard
Freeze Them – If you do end up with a larger quantity of spices that you use infrequently, you can freeze them to make them last longer. You can freeze some condiments when you find them for good prices as well!
–How to Make Fresh Tomato BBQ Sauce and Freeze it.
Make Your Own – Making your own homemade spice mixes and condiments is a great way to control costs, control the ingredients, and adjust to dietary needs and taste preferences.
— Here are several recipes to get you started Making Your Own Spices and Condiments.
Take Advantage of Sales – Take advantage of low prices and seasonal sales to stock up when spices and condiment prices are at their lowest.
Looking to save ways to save? Check out these frugal living posts:
- 12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- 5 Ways to Save Money Gardening
- Does Buying a Whole Chicken Really Save Money?
- Things I Never Buy To Save Me Money
- How to Save On The Cost of Convenience
Find even more Frugal Living Tips on Little House Living.
Looking for more seasoning recipes that you can make quickly and easily? My book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes just like the ones shared in this article!
What are some ways that you have used spices and condiments to save you money?
This post on How Spices Save Money was originally published on Little House Living in November 2015. It has been updated as of November 2019.